The 1999 Auto Trader RAC British Touring Car Championship featured 26 races across 13 rounds. It began on 5 April at Donington Park and concluded on 19 September at Silverstone. The driver's title was won by Laurent Aïello in his debut season driving for the Nissan works team, with his teammate David Leslie in second place. Reigning champion Rickard Rydell finished in third place.

Laurent Aiello won the drivers championship driving a Nissan

One of the surprises of the season was the performance of independent driver Matt Neal. Driving for his father's Team Dynamics in a 1998 Nissan Primera,[1] Neal became the first independent driver to win a championship race in the feature race of the first Donington round; series organisers TOCA had put up a reward for £250,000 for this achievement.[2]

David Leslie finished 2nd driving a Nissan
James Thompson finished fourth overall driving a Honda Accord.
Matt Neal won the Michelin Cup for Independents and finished 9th overall driving a Nissan

Background

Six manufacturer backed teams contested the 1999 championship,[3] Audi and Peugeot having withdrawn at the end 1998. Seven independent drivers appeared on the initial entry list[3] however neither the Atford Ford Mondeo[4] of Gareth Howell or the TRM Motorsport BMW 320i of Collin Gallie made an appearance.

Just a single tyre manufacturer was represented (Michelin) and all competitors used the same tyre, most notably including independent runners.[5]

Night racing was introduced to the BTCC for the first time for the rounds at Snetterton in July. The pit lane and main spectator areas were floodlit, whilst other parts of the circuit were in total darkness. To aid the drivers eyesight for the sharp changes from light to dark, the cockpits had a soft red light glowing inside.

Team and driver changes

Tom Walkinshaw Racing again ran Volvo's effort, defending champion Rickard Rydell came into the 1999 season with a new team-mate in Belgian Vincent Radermecker who had previously raced in the Belgian Procar series and replaced Italian Gianni Morbidelli.

1998 manufacturer champions Nissan once again entered two Primeras engineered by RML. David Leslie remained with the team for a third season and was joined by Frenchman Laurent Aiello, a former STW and French champion who took the seat vacated by Anthony Reid.

After a successful year in 1998 with Prodrive, Honda's effort was now to be run by WSR in a straight swap with Ford. James Thompson went into the season as title favourite and topped pre-season testing[6] and he was joined by Peter Kox for the second year in a row. The team entered a third car for 1994 champion and STW Honda works driver Gabriele Tarquini at the Knockhill and Brands Hatch rounds.

The Williams campaign, running a pair of Renault Lagunas, was headed by Jason Plato who was promoted to lead driver following the departure of Alain Menu to Ford. He was joined by Jean-Christophe Boullion, a former Williams F1 test driver, Sauber F1 race driver and 1994 Formula 3000 champion. Boullion had missed out securing the Renault drive to Plato in 1997.[7]

The Triple Eight Racing Vauxhall Vectras were driven by 1995 champion John Cleland, his 11th season driving for the manufacturer and he was joined by Yvan Muller following Audi's withdrawal. He replaced Derek Warwick who retired from full-time racing to focus on running the team.[8]

Completing the factory team line-up was Ford, now run by Prodrive who had what many regarded as the strongest driver line up in the pit lane, with ’97 champion Alain Menu partnering ’98 runner-up Anthony Reid. They replaced the 1998 lineup of Will Hoy, Craig Baird and Nigel Mansell.

The Independents field was spearheaded by title favourite Matt Neal, whom had shown throughout 1998 his ability to mix it with the manufacturer backed teams. Neal’s Dynamics team would again have a year old ex STW Primera[1] at their disposal, a car that Neal had shared with Steven Richards at Bathurst in 1998.[9]

1998 Vectra Challenge winner Mark Blair, entered a 1996 Vauxhall Vectra[10] which had been a prize for winning the support series and had been driven by Mark Lemmer in 1998. The car was updated with the 1999 aero kit but was unable to use the latest specification engines.

Lee Brookes returned to the series driving a 1998 Honda Accord.[11] Brookes missed four races after injuring his arm and then withdrew from the series after the second visit to Thruxton stating that nothing they did to the car made it competitive.[12]

Paula Cook also drove a 1998 Honda Accord[13] that she had previously driven in the final two rounds of 1998 and run by D.C Cook Motorsport. The team withdrew after the Snetterton rounds citing lack of budget.

Russell Spence started the season driving a 1998 Renault Laguna[14] run by Arena International Spence would suffer a frightening crash at Oulton Park and step down soon after due to business commitments. He was replaced by 1991 champion Will Hoy from Snetterton onwards.

Season review

The season would be dominated by Nissan. Aïello would notch up ten race victories to claim the title in what would be his first and only year in the British championship. Teammate David Leslie would be the Frenchman’s only sustained title challenger, finishing comfortably as runner-up. The Japanese marque would be one of several though to withdraw from the series at the end of the year.

Rickard Rydell’s hopes of defending his title were dashed early following six retirements in the first twelve races, but a return to form in the second half of the season allowed the Swede to finish as best of the rest behind the Nissan pair. New teammate Vincent Radermecker had a solid first season in Britain, racking up several podium finishes. Volvo however would join Nissan in departing the series come season’s end.

Honda’s season would be much the same as the previous one. James Thompson would win four races, but inconsistency prevented him from challenging the Nissans. Peter Kox would have an improved second year in Britain, his highlight being a maiden win under the lights at Snetterton.

Renault’s season would be characterised by a lack of development along with a string of engine failures, culminating in the French marque being the third to end their programme at the end of the season. Numerous retirements hampered new team-leader Jason Plato’s hopes of a title challenge, whilst rookie teammate Jean-Christophe Boullion was consistent but unspectacular, mustering only tenth in the standings.

Team newcomer Yvan Muller would continue Vauxhall’s resurgence from 1998, picking up their only win of the season at Brands Hatch and becoming a regular front runner. Veteran teammate John Cleland would have a disappointing season, finishing as last of the works drivers and subsequently announcing his retirement from racing at the end of the year.

The biggest disappointment however was the Prodrive Ford team. The car showed flashes of pace, but terrible inconsistency would result in just one race win, both Menu and Reid finishing outside the top ten in the drivers championship, and bottom of the manufacturers championship.

The most memorable story of the season was Matt Neal. At the opening meeting at Donington Park, he became the first independent to win a race outright in 11 years, collecting a £250,000 prize put up by TOCA. Good form in the first half of the year saw him threatening a title challenge against the works teams, but a lack of development on his Primera saw him fall down the standings as the season progressed.

Entry list

Team Car No. Drivers Rounds
Manufacturers
Sweden Volvo S40 Racing Volvo S40 1 Sweden Rickard Rydell All
11 Belgium Vincent Radermecker All
United Kingdom Ford Team Mondeo Ford Mondeo 2 United Kingdom Anthony Reid All
4 Switzerland Alain Menu All
Japan Team Honda Sport Honda Accord 3 United Kingdom James Thompson All
33 Netherlands Peter Kox All
55 Italy Gabriele Tarquini 10–11
France Nescafé Blend 37 Williams Renault Renault Laguna 5 United Kingdom Jason Plato All
37 France Jean-Christophe Boullion All
United Kingdom Vodafone Nissan Racing Nissan Primera GT 6 United Kingdom David Leslie All
23 France Laurent Aïello All
United Kingdom Vauxhall Motorsport Vauxhall Vectra 7 France Yvan Muller All
8 United Kingdom John Cleland All
Independents
United Kingdom ADR Motorsport Vauxhall Vectra 15 United Kingdom Mark Blair All
United Kingdom Arena International Renault Laguna 17 United Kingdom Russell Spence 1–7
United Kingdom Will Hoy 8–13
United Kingdom DC Cook Motorsport Honda Accord 22 United Kingdom Paula Cook 1–8
United Kingdom Max Power Racing Team Dynamics Nissan Primera GT 77 United Kingdom Matt Neal All
United Kingdom Brookes Motorsport Honda Accord 99 United Kingdom Lee Brookes 1–3, 6–9

Calendar

All races were held in the United Kingdom.

Round Circuit Date Pole Position Fastest Lap Winning Driver Winning Team Winning Independent
1 R1 Donington Park (National), Leicestershire 5 April United Kingdom James Thompson United Kingdom David Leslie United Kingdom James Thompson Team Honda Sport United Kingdom Matt Neal
R2 United Kingdom Matt Neal United Kingdom Anthony Reid United Kingdom Matt Neal Max Power Racing Team Dynamics United Kingdom Matt Neal
2 R3 Silverstone Circuit (International), Northamptonshire 18 April United Kingdom David Leslie United Kingdom David Leslie France Laurent Aïello Vodafone Nissan Racing United Kingdom Matt Neal
R4 France Laurent Aïello France Laurent Aïello United Kingdom Jason Plato Nescafé Blend 37 Williams Renault United Kingdom Paula Cook
3 R5 Thruxton Circuit, Hampshire 3 May Sweden Rickard Rydell France Laurent Aïello France Laurent Aïello Vodafone Nissan Racing United Kingdom Matt Neal
R6 Sweden Rickard Rydell Belgium Vincent Radermecker France Laurent Aïello Vodafone Nissan Racing United Kingdom Lee Brookes
4 R7 Brands Hatch (Indy), Kent 16 May Switzerland Alain Menu United Kingdom Jason Plato France Yvan Muller Vauxhall Motorsport United Kingdom Mark Blair
R8 France Laurent Aïello United Kingdom Jason Plato France Laurent Aïello Vodafone Nissan Racing United Kingdom Matt Neal
5 R9 Oulton Park (Fosters), Cheshire 31 May France Laurent Aïello Sweden Rickard Rydell France Laurent Aïello Vodafone Nissan Racing United Kingdom Matt Neal
R10 France Laurent Aïello United Kingdom David Leslie France Laurent Aïello Vodafone Nissan Racing United Kingdom Matt Neal
6 R11 Donington Park (Grand Prix), Leicestershire 20 June United Kingdom James Thompson Sweden Rickard Rydell United Kingdom James Thompson Team Honda Sport United Kingdom Matt Neal
R12 United Kingdom David Leslie United Kingdom David Leslie United Kingdom David Leslie Vodafone Nissan Racing United Kingdom Matt Neal
7 R13 Croft Circuit, North Yorkshire 4 July United Kingdom James Thompson United Kingdom David Leslie United Kingdom James Thompson Team Honda Sport United Kingdom Matt Neal
R14 United Kingdom James Thompson Sweden Rickard Rydell Sweden Rickard Rydell Volvo S40 Racing United Kingdom Matt Neal
8 R15 Snetterton Circuit, Norfolk 17 July France Laurent Aïello United Kingdom David Leslie United Kingdom David Leslie Vodafone Nissan Racing United Kingdom Matt Neal
R16 France Laurent Aïello France Laurent Aïello Netherlands Peter Kox Team Honda Sport United Kingdom Matt Neal
9 R17 Thruxton Circuit, Hampshire 1 August Sweden Rickard Rydell Sweden Rickard Rydell France Laurent Aïello Vodafone Nissan Racing United Kingdom Matt Neal
R18 Sweden Rickard Rydell Sweden Rickard Rydell United Kingdom David Leslie Vodafone Nissan Racing United Kingdom Will Hoy
10 R19 Knockhill Circuit, Fife 15 August France Laurent Aïello France Laurent Aïello France Laurent Aïello Vodafone Nissan Racing United Kingdom Matt Neal
R20 Switzerland Alain Menu Italy Gabriele Tarquini Switzerland Alain Menu Ford Team Mondeo United Kingdom Mark Blair
11 R21 Brands Hatch (Indy), Kent 30 August France Laurent Aïello United Kingdom David Leslie Sweden Rickard Rydell Volvo S40 Racing United Kingdom Matt Neal
R22 Sweden Rickard Rydell France J-C Boullion France Laurent Aïello Vodafone Nissan Racing United Kingdom Matt Neal
12 R23 Oulton Park (Island), Cheshire 12 September United Kingdom David Leslie United Kingdom David Leslie France Laurent Aïello Vodafone Nissan Racing United Kingdom Matt Neal
R24 United Kingdom David Leslie United Kingdom James Thompson United Kingdom James Thompson Team Honda Sport United Kingdom Matt Neal
13 R25 Silverstone Circuit (International), Northamptonshire 19 September France Laurent Aïello United Kingdom Jason Plato Sweden Rickard Rydell Volvo S40 Racing United Kingdom Will Hoy
R26 France Laurent Aïello Sweden Rickard Rydell Sweden Rickard Rydell Volvo S40 Racing United Kingdom Matt Neal

Drivers Championship

Points system
 1st   2nd   3rd   4th   5th   6th   7th   8th   9th   10th  Pole Position Lead a lap
in feature race
15 12 10 8 6 5 4 3 2 1 1 1
  • No driver may collect more than one "Lead a Lap" point per race no matter how many laps they lead.
  • Drivers' top 22 results count towards the championship.
Pos Driver DON SIL THR BRH OUL DON CRO SNE THR KNO BRH OUL SIL Pts
1 France Laurent Aïello 11 Ret 1 6 1 1* 3 1* 1 1* Ret 2* 5 3 Ret 7 1 5* 1 DSQ 2 1* 1 2 9 (Ret) 244(245)
2 United Kingdom David Leslie 4 Ret 2 7 11 Ret 6 2 2 8* 2 1* 2 4 1 2* 4 1* 9 3 4 2* 2 4* 11 2* 228
3 Sweden Rickard Rydell 7 Ret 3 Ret 2 2* Ret Ret 7 Ret Ret 4 4 1* 2 8 2 Ret* 6 5 1 5* 3 3 1 1* 192
4 United Kingdom James Thompson 1 2* 5 4 5 8 7 6* 11 Ret 1 3 1 2* 9 15 7 Ret 14 Ret 3 3 DSQ 1* 2 9 174
5 United Kingdom Jason Plato 3 3 6 1* Ret 4* 4 Ret* Ret Ret 3 8 6 6 4 6 5 4 Ret Ret 6 8 Ret 6 Ret Ret 122
6 France Yvan Muller 6 10 Ret 2 Ret 11 1 5 8 3 4 5 8 8 Ret 3 8 6 10 7 12 Ret 9 5 3 5 119
7 Netherlands Peter Kox 9 7 9 5 6 5 Ret 4 9 7 7 Ret 3 9 6 1* 9 9 Ret 2 9 4* 5 Ret 7 Ret 113
8 Belgium Vincent Radermecker 10 5 11 Ret 4 3 Ret Ret 5 4* 10 12 7 7 3 5 3 2 11 8 10 7 4 13 Ret 4 113
9 United Kingdom Matt Neal 5 1* 4 Ret 3 Ret Ret 3 10 2 9 7 10 5* 7 10 6 Ret 7 Ret 5 10 6 10 Ret 6 109
10 France Jean-Christophe Boullion Ret 6 8 3 9 7* 5 7 6 6 8 10 11 Ret 5 4 13 11 5 4 7 6 7 7 8 Ret 97
11 Switzerland Alain Menu 2 Ret 13 Ret Ret 6 12 Ret 3 Ret 5 6 Ret Ret 8 9* 11 3 3 1* Ret Ret Ret 9 12 Ret 84
12 United Kingdom Anthony Reid Ret Ret 7 DSQ 8 Ret 2 8 4 5 11 9 Ret 10* Ret 11 Ret 7* 4 Ret 8 12* 12 8 4 3 78
13 United Kingdom John Cleland 8 4* 10 8 7 9 8 9 12 Ret 6 Ret 9 Ret 12 12 12 Ret 8 9 11 9 8 Ret 5 10 51
14 Italy Gabriele Tarquini 2 6 Ret Ret 17
15 United Kingdom Will Hoy 10 13 10 8 13 11 13 11 10 11 6 7 15
16 United Kingdom Mark Blair 13 Ret 12 11 12 12 9 10 13 9 12 11 12 Ret 13 DNS Ret 10 12 10 14 13 11 12 10 8 11
17 United Kingdom Lee Brookes 12 9 Ret 10 10 10 DNS DNS 13 Ret 13 12 11 16 14 Ret 5
18 United Kingdom Russell Spence 15 8 Ret Ret 13 14 11 Ret DNS DNS 14 Ret 15 11 3
19 United Kingdom Paula Cook 14 Ret Ret 9 Ret 13 10 Ret Ret Ret 15 13 14 13 Ret 14 3
Pos Driver DON SIL THR BRH OUL DON CRO SNE THR KNO BRH OUL SIL Pts

Note: bold signifies pole position (1 point awarded all races), italics signifies fastest lap.

* signifies that driver lead feature race for at least one lap (1 point given).

Michelin Cup for Independents

Pos Driver DON SIL THR BRH OUL DON CRO SNE THR KNO BRH OUL SIL Pts
1 United Kingdom Matt Neal 5 1 4 Ret 3 Ret Ret 3 10 2 9 7 10 5 7 10 6 Ret 7 Ret 5 10 6 10 Ret 6 353(361)
2 United Kingdom Mark Blair 13 Ret 12 11 11 12 9 10 13 9 12 11 12 Ret 13 DNS Ret 10 12 10 14 13 11 12 10 8 183
3 United Kingdom Will Hoy 10 13 10 8 13 11 13 11 10 11 6 7 131
4 United Kingdom Lee Brookes 12 9 Ret 10 10 10 DNS DNS 13 Ret 13 12 11 16 14 Ret 78
5 United Kingdom Paula Cook 14 Ret Ret 9 Ret 13 10 Ret Ret Ret 15 13 14 13 Ret 14 41
6 United Kingdom Russell Spence 15 8 Ret Ret 13 14 11 Ret DNS DNS 14 Ret 15 11 25
Pos. Driver DON SIL THR BRH OUL DON CRO SNE THR KNO BRH OUL SIL Pts

Manufacturers Championship

Pos Manufacturer DON SIL THR BRH OUL DON CRO SNE THR KNO BRH OUL SIL Pts
1 Nissan / Vodafone Nissan Racing 4 Ret 1 6 1 1 3 1 1 1 2 1 2 3 1 2 1 1 1 3 2 1 1 2 9 2 464
11 Ret 2 7 11 Ret 6 2 2 8 Ret 2 5 4 Ret 7 4 5 9 EX 4 2 2 4 11 Ret
2 Honda / Team Honda Sport 1 2 5 4 5 5 7 4 9 7 1 3 1 2 6 1 7 9 2 2 3 3 5 1 2 9 296
9 7 9 5 6 8 Ret 6 11 Ret 7 Ret 3 9 9 15 9 Ret 14 6 9 4 DSQ Ret 7 Ret
3 Volvo / Volvo S40 Racing 7 5 3 Ret 2 2 Ret Ret 5 4 9 4 4 1 2 5 2 2 6 5 1 5 3 3 1 1 295
10 Ret 11 Ret 4 3 Ret Ret 7 Ret Ret 12 7 7 3 8 3 Ret 11 8 10 7 4 13 Ret 4
4 Renault / Nescafé Blend 37 Williams Renault 3 3 6 1 9 4 4 7 6 6 3 8 6 6 4 4 5 4 5 4 6 6 7 6 8 Ret 227
Ret 6 8 3 Ret 7 5 Ret Ret Ret 8 10 11 Ret 5 6 13 11 Ret Ret 7 8 Ret 7 Ret Ret
5 Vauxhall / Vauxhall Motorsport 6 4 10 2 7 9 1 5 8 3 4 5 8 8 12 3 8 6 8 7 11 9 8 5 3 5 186
8 10 Ret 8 Ret 11 8 9 12 Ret 6 Ret 9 Ret Ret 12 12 Ret 10 9 12 Ret 9 Ret 5 10
6 Ford / Ford Team Mondeo 2 Ret 7 Ret 8 6 2 8 3 5 5 6 Ret 10 8 9 11 3 3 1 8 12 12 8 4 3 164
Ret Ret 13 DSQ Ret Ret 12 Ret 4 Ret 11 9 Ret Ret Ret 11 Ret 7 4 Ret Ret Ret Ret 9 12 Ret
Pos Manufacturer DON SIL THR BRH OUL DON CRO SNE THR KNO BRH OUL SIL Pts

Teams Championship

Pos Team DON SIL THR BRH OUL DON CRO SNE THR KNO BRH OUL SIL Pts
1 Vodafone Nissan Racing Ret 6 1 1 1 1 3 2 1 3 1 2 2 210
Ret 7 Ret 2 8 2 4 7 5 DSQ 2 4 Ret
2 Team Honda Sport 2 4 5 4 7 3 2 1 9 2 3 1 9 132
7 5 8 6 Ret Ret 9 15 Ret 6 4 Ret Ret
3 Volvo S40 Racing 5 Ret 2 Ret 4 4 1 5 2 5 5 3 1 127
Ret Ret 3 Ret Ret 12 7 8 Ret 8 7 13 4
4 Nescafé Blend 37 Williams Renault 3 1 4 7 6 8 6 4 4 4 6 6 Ret 108
6 3 7 Ret Ret 10 Ret 6 11 Ret 8 7 Ret
5 Vauxhall Motorsport 4 2 9 5 3 5 8 3 6 7 9 5 5 83
10 8 11 9 Ret Ret Ret 12 Ret 9 Ret Ret 10
6 Team Dynamics 1 Ret Ret 3 2 7 5 10 Ret Ret 10 10 6 55
7 Ford Team Mondeo Ret Ret 6 8 5 6 10 9 3 1 12 8 3 53
Ret DSQ Ret Ret Ret 9 Ret 11 7 Ret Ret 9 Ret
8 Arena International 8 Ret 14 Ret DNS Ret 11 13 8 11 11 11 7 10
9 ADR Motorsport Ret 11 12 10 9 11 Ret DNS 10 10 13 12 8 7
10 Brookes Motorsport 9 10 10 DNS Ret 12 16 Ret 4
11 DC Cook Motorsport Ret 9 13 Ret Ret 13 13 14 2
Pos Team DON SIL THR BRH OUL DON CRO SNE THR KNO BRH OUL SIL Pts

Points System

The points system used for the 1999 British Touring Car Championship was as follows. For the drivers championship, 15 points were awarded to the winner of each race, 12 to second place, 10 for third and 8,6,5,4,3,2,1 for fourth to tenth place respectively. At the end of the season, drivers would drop their four lowest scores. A point would be awarded to the driver who achieved pole position for each race, and a point was awarded to anyone who led the feature race.

For the manufactures championship, the same number of points for the top ten finishing positions were awarded as for the drivers championship but only the top two per manufacturer would receive points for the manufacturer. At the end of the season, manufacturers would drop the points from their worst four rounds of the championship. No points were received for leading laps or pole position.[15]

References

  1. ^ a b "Nissan Primera (50)". Super Touring Register. Retrieved 2017-12-08.
  2. ^ "April 5th 1999, Matt Neal won himself a £250,000 privateer bonus at Donington". www.goodwood.com. Retrieved 2017-12-08.
  3. ^ a b "BTCC: 1999 Entry List, News 99-03-03". Motorsport.com. Retrieved 2017-12-08.
  4. ^ "Ford Mondeo". Super Touring Register. Retrieved 2017-12-08.
  5. ^ "Famous races: Matt Neal talks about Donington 1999 - TouringCarTimes". TouringCarTimes. 2015-01-02. Retrieved 2017-12-08.
  6. ^ "Car Enthusiast - The 1999 Auto Trader British Touring Car Championship". www.carenthusiast.com. Retrieved 2017-12-08.
  7. ^ "Jean-Christophe Boullion - The Williams Grand Prix Database". The Williams Grand Prix Database. Retrieved 2017-12-08.
  8. ^ "Heritage | Triple Eight Racing BTCC". www.tripleeight.co.uk. Retrieved 2017-12-08.
  9. ^ "ASTC: AMP Bathurst 1000 Race Report". Motorsport.com. Retrieved 2017-12-08.
  10. ^ "Vauxhall / Opel Vectra B (V96B-001)". Super Touring Register. Retrieved 2017-12-08.
  11. ^ "Honda Accord (PRO-ST/H-9803)". Super Touring Register. Retrieved 2017-12-08.
  12. ^ Autosport (1999). Touring Car Year: The Official Review of the Auto Trader RAC British Touring Car Championship: 1999-2000. Haymarket Specialist Publications. ISBN 0860249298.
  13. ^ "Honda Accord (PRO-ST/H-9806)". Super Touring Register. Retrieved 2017-12-08.
  14. ^ "Renault Laguna (98/04)". Super Touring Register. Retrieved 2017-12-08.
  15. ^ Vic Lennard (Editor). Auto Trader British Touring Car Championship – Donington Park Official Programme. (1999) p.30 The Really Motoring Group.

External links