TouringCarTimes’ Top 30 drivers of 2017: 20 to 11
It is time for the second part of the TouringCarTimes’ staff rundown of the Top 30 drivers from the 2017 season. This list features what we rank as the top touring car drivers from the past season in the major national and international BTCC, DTM, STCC, Supercars, TCR and WTCC championships.
20 – Mike Rockenfeller (DTM – Team Phoenix – 1 win)
Never discard Mike ”Rocky” Rockenfeller whose experience was key with the new tyres developed by Hankook for this season. The 2013 champion never took a day off after breaking his left foot in a heavy shunt at Norisring, remaining in the championship fight until the penultimate race while recovering to finish fourth overall.
19 – Mehdi Bennani (WTCC – Sébastien Loeb Racing – 3 wins)
Mehdi Bennani enjoyed one his strongest season’s to-date in the WTCC, despite losing out on retaining his independents’ title to team-mate Tom Chilton, due to a few too many DNFs during the season, none of which were entirely his fault. Clashes with Norbert Michelisz, Thed Bjork and Yvan Muller put him into retirement in Italy, China and Qatar, which shows he was always battling in the right side of the field. The Moroccan went to Qatar third in the standings, and with an outside chance of the title in the privateer Citroen.
18 – Jack Goff (BTCC – Eurotech Racing – 1 win)
Jack Goff enjoyed his best season in the BTCC to date in 2017 and through the second half of the year, firmly established himself as a front-running contender in his Honda Civic. Rising to the challenge of leading the Eurotech squad after the incident at Croft that ruled out team-mate Jeff Smith, Goff gave the team reason to cheer with two poles, seven podiums and a first win since 2014. Finishing the year ahead of Honda factory man Matt Neal was a good way to conclude his season.
17 – Tom Chilton (WTCC – Sébastien Loeb Racing – 3 wins)
Tom Chilton took on a two-championship programme in 2017, and the results were certainly mixed, as his BTCC programme did not go to expectations, with a single podium in the first race in the Power Maxed Vauxhall Astra the highlight. Adversely, we saw some of the best racing ever from the Brit in the WTCC, winning a barnstorming opening race in Monza, holding off the much fancied Rob Huff throughout, a ding-dong battle with his team-mate in Qatar for his third victory and essentially the independents’ title, and walking away with third overall, his best WTCC season to-date, and one in which he could have won the most races of all if it wasn’t for a slightly cheeky pass on Yann Ehrlacher in Argentina.
16 – David Reynolds (Supercars – Erebus Motorsport – 1 win)
David Reynolds joined Erebus Motorsport last season and took a big step forward together with the team for 2017 to finish seventh with one victory, at no other race than the legendary Bathurst 1000, and two podium finishes, promising more for 2018.
15 – Chaz Mostert (Supercars – Prodrive Racing – 3 wins)
Chaz Mostert was not part of the title fight at the very end of the season but was best of the none-DJR Team Penske Ford drivers, finishing fifth overall. The 25-year-old was close to the top four of the championship in terms of qualifying average and was only beaten by McLaughlin for the number of fastest race laps and we should undoubtedly see him in the top next year again.
14 – Tom Ingram (BTCC – Speedworks Motorsport – 4 wins)
Running in a single car team with limited budget, Tom Ingram really came of age as a touring car driver in 2017 and could well have ended the year with a title to his name with a bit more luck on his side. The best qualifier on the BTCC grid, Ingram led more laps than anyone else and won four times as he secured the Independents title and finished third overall. Ultimately, the misfortune that saw him pick up just one points finish from the races at Oulton Park and Croft would be the main reason why his overall challenge fell away.
13 – Jamie Green (DTM – Team Rosberg – 3 wins)
2017 was definitely the one that got away from Jamie Green, the most regular points scorer in the field. Giving away victory to Mattias Ekström and a gearbox failure a few laps from the end at the Red Bull Ring were the blows to the best season for the Brit since joining Audi.
12 – Shane van Gisbergen (Supercars – Triple Eight – 4 wins)
Outgoing Supercars champion Shane van Gisbergen could not match his strong season of 2016 and dropped outside the podium to finish fourth overall. There is however no doubt that he is one of the fastest drivers in the championship with no less than four victories and the best qualifying average of all this season and it would be a big surprise if he is not challenging for the title in 2018.
11 – Fabian Coulthard (Supercars – DJR Team Penske – 4 wins)
Fabian Coulthard headed the championship for the first part but was ultimately shadowed by his team-mate Scott McLaughlin. The Kiwi still finished a well-deserved third overall in the championship with four victories to his tally, his so far best Supercars season.
Positions 10 to 1 to follow on Thursday…