The 2021 TOCA season is coming to a close and we have seen some fantastic championship battles not just in the British Touring Car Championship, but also the series’ fantastic support race schedule, in which we have championship fights in Ginettas, Porsches and Minis going to the last weekend of the season at Brands Hatch.
For this feature, I will be looking at some of the best drivers from these support categories and why I feel they should be seriously considered for a BTCC drive for 2022.
Dan is an obvious choice as he has been a title contender in the BTCC in the past, narrowly missing out on the 2019 crown after brake failure pitched him in the barriers in the final round of the season. He returned to the championship in 2020 although sadly for 2021, following Honda’s withdrawal from the sport, he was left without a drive.
Dan is currently winning the Porsche Carrera Cup GB championship, a title he has won twice before, proving that he is indeed one of the best drivers in the country today.
Another driver from the Porsche Carrera Cup GB who should be considered for a drive is Lorcan Hanafin, who has proved to be the dark horse of the 2021 Porsche Championship. Many were expecting a battle between Cammish and Harry King for the title, however it is Hanafin who has surprised everyone and taken the fight the Cammish.
At just 18-years-old, Hanafin has a fantastic future ahead of him and it would be fantastic to see him in the BTCC.
Another young driver who has impressed hugely this season is current Ginetta GT4 Supercup championship leader Adam Smalley.
Smalley has had a year-long battle with the experienced Tom Hibbert and it has been fascinating to see how he, and his team Elite Motorsport, have gone from strength to strength following Smalley’s graduation to the championship last year.
Similar to Hanafin, 20-year-old Smalley has a bright motorsport future ahead of him and it would be fitting to see a BTCC team take a chance with him.
A driver who has been on the TOCA tour for many years now and always impressed is Dan Zelos. Although Dan is only 23, it feels as though he has been around forever, making his debut in the Ginetta Junior Championship in 2014. Since then, Dan has competed in the Renault Clio Cup and more recently, the Mini Challenge UK, a series he is currently winning.
It is a championship Dan has thrived in, finishing in the top three for the last two seasons, only missing out on the title in 2020 to Porsche graduate Nathan Harrison.
The Minis are known as a fantastic proving ground for any young driver trying to get into the BTCC and I feel Dan has done more than enough to warrant a shot in the UK’s premier series.
The final driver I am going to look at on this list is Zelos’ rival for the 2021 Mini Challenge title Max Bird.
Like Zelos and Smalley, Bird made his car debut in the Ginetta Junior Championship before moving into the GT5 series and now the Mini Challenge, where his results have improved dramatically year on year to the point where he is now mounting a serious title charge, just four points behind rival Zelos going into the final rounds at Brands Hatch.
This is despite numerous setbacks such as being punted off earlier in the year while leading at Brands Hatch, although he composed himself admirably after the event.
A professional both in and out of the car, it would be great to see Max given the chance he deserves in the BTCC.
If you feel I have missed any drivers out please feel free to comment below!
Pictures: www.btcc.net, , www.danzelos.com, www.maxbird.co.uk