The 1998 BTCC is often regarded as the greatest season of them all, with top line drivers, teams and manufacturers all fighting for the title. Here, BTCC in the 90s takes a look back at the teams and drivers who were part of that legendary season.
Blend 37 Williams Renault
The reigning champions from 1997 would lose both their drivers and manufacturers titles in 1998 & eventually pulled out of the BTCC when Renault withdrew in 1999. The team continue to compete in Formula 1, winning their last GP in 2012 with Pastor Maldonado.
The 1997 champion would have a less successful year in 1998, with his worst championship position since 1993. At the end of the season, he would move to Ford, who he won the 2000 title with. At the end of the super touring era, Alain would spend 3 seasons driving for Opel in the DTM, before joining Chevrolet in 2005 in the WTCC for 8 seasons. He finished runner up to Chevrolet Rob Huff in 2012, leaving the series as Chevrolet withdrew ‘works’ support to the RML team. He returned to the BTCC in 2014 in a BMR run VW Passat, scoring 2 podiums. He is currently acting as driver coach for MG in the British Touring Car Championship.
After a successful debut season in 1997, Jason Plato continued to impress in 1998, in a car nowhere near as dominant as the previous season. Jason continued with Renault until they withdrew at the end of 1999, where he joined Vauxhall, winning the championship in 2001, after an extrememly controversial fight for the title with team mate Yvan Muller, leaving the team at the end of the season. In 2004, Jason started presenting the Channel 5 British TV series ‘Fifth Gear’ co-starring with fellow 1998 BTCC driver, Tiff Needell and Vicki Butler-Henderson. 2004 also saw him return to the BTCC & has been present ever since, racing for the likes of Seat and Chevrolet, winning his 91st BTCC race for Subaru at Knockhill this season (2016). Jason is expected to continue with Subaru into the 2017 BTCC season.
Volvo S40 Racing
Volvo finally won a championship in 1998, with Rickard Rydell winning the drivers championship. The Volvo outfit was run by TWR, who stayed in the championship until Volvo withdrew works support at the end of 1999. TWR continued to race in other series until 2002, when the costs resulting from the running of its Arrows F1 team, led to the demise of TWR in 2002.
In 2010, the founder of the team, Tom Walkinshaw, passed away – following complications arising from cancer.
The popular Swede finally bagged the title in 1998, after many seasons of championship challenges. He continued with Volvo until 1999, then spent a season at Ford in 2000 – his last year in the BTCC. Rickard went on to spend a few seasons in the Swedish & European Touring Car Championships, before 8 seasons in the WTCC, mainly driving for Seat Sport. He won the GT1 class at Le Mans in 2007 and announced his retirement from motorsport in 2016, but continues to act as driver coach to Gustav Malja in GP2, whilst working for the family flower business “Rydells”.
Gianni replaced Kelvin Burt at Volvo in 1998 and came to the BTCC having competed in Formula 1 for the likes of Minardi and Footwork, having raced 8 Grands Prix for Sauber the previous season. However, Gianni struggled against team-mate Rydell, scoring a best of 4th place at Thruxton in the August Bank Holiday meeting. Axed at the end of the season, Morbidelli then spent several years in various European touring car series’, with a high point in the 2001 ETCC, where he raced the BMW 320i to fifth place in the championship, winning the last race at Estoril. He also won a round of the WTCC in 2014.
This season he races a Honda Civic in TCR, currently lying 7th in the standings.
Team Honda Sport
Team Honda Sport was run by Prodrive, famed for their impressive record in World Rallying. At the end of 1998, Prodrive were handed the contract to run the Ford Mondeos for 2 years, culminating in the ‘double’ in 2000 for Alain Menu & Ford, before withdrawing when Ford pulled out of the championship. After leaving the BTCC, Prodrive continued to run Subarus in the WRC, whilst also running BAR in Formula 1. During the last decade Prodrive’s non-motorsport activities have grown to represent the majority of the company’s turnover.
James had his best BTCC season to date in 1998, finished 3rd in the standings. He continued with Honda until they withdrew at the end of 2000, where he moved to Vauxhall and won the BTCC title for them in 2002 and again in 2004, which was his last full season in the BTCC. He then spent the next few seasons in the WTCC, driving for the likes of Seat & Lada, with sporadic appearances in the BTCC – his last appearance being at the Silverstone finale in 2011, driving a Motorbase Ford Focus.
This season, he’s been competing in the WTCC with Munnich Motorsport in a Chevrolet Cruze – scoring 24 points, with one meeting to go.
Former BMW test driver Peter Kox replaced Gabriele Tarquini at Honda in 1998. He struggled to match the form set by Thompson in 1998, but improved in 1999 to win his only BTCC race at the inaugural night race at Snetterton. Despite this, at the end of 1999, he was replaced by Tarquini, who returned for a full season in 2000. Kox moved to the ETCC in 2000 for Honda, finishing the season as championship runner up. He then raced sporadically in the FIA GT Championship & the Blaincpain Sprint Series.
Audi Sport UK
Audi Sport UK were formed by Richard Lloyd’s Apex Motorsport group when they won a contract to run Audi’s entry to the BTCC. 1998 would be the last year of Audi Sport UK’s entry into the BTCC, with Apex moving to sports car racing to run programs for Audi and Bentley.
Richard Lloyd was tragically killed in 2008, when a private jet on which he was travelling crashed into a house in Farnborough, London. The investigation into the crash found that a combination of incorrectly identified, non-critical system failures led to the in-flight shut-down of both engines, with the crew unable to restart them in time to avoid the impact.
1998 was John’s 3rd and final BTCC season & his least successful, as the 2WD Audi was far less competitive than its 4WD version that the team had raced for the 2 preceding seasons. John left competitive racing after leaving the BTCC and setup Bintcliffe Sport, which raced in the Production Class of the BTCC for several seasons, winning its first race at Snetterton in 2000. They also ran Jason Plato and Darren Manning in ASCAR.
John returned to racing in 2011 racing in an Audi R8 LMS in the British GT championship for United Autosports. As of 2016, John is now director of Donotbend Limited – a designer furniture outlet based in Minskip, near York.
Yvan made his BTCC debut in 1998 and impressed in a less than competitive Audi A4. After Audi pulled out at the end of 1998, Yvan would move to Vauxhall for 1999, winning his first BTCC race at Brands Hatch in 1999, pulling off a stunning move on Laurent Aiello & Anthony Reid in the process. When Vauxhall built a dominant car for the BTCC in 2001, Yvan took advantage and battled for the title for several seasons, before finally clinching the title in 2003. In 2006, he moved to the WTCC with Seat, winning the title in 2008 before winning 3 more world titles for Chevrolet in 2010, ’11 and ’13.
Yvan is founder and team principal of Yvan Muller Racing & has announced that 2016 would be the last season of his professional career & that he is retiring from the sport to concentrate on his family and race team.
Vodafone Nissan Racing
The Nissan effort in ’98 was run by the fabled RML team, who took the team to the manufacturers title, whilst Anthony Reid finished as runner up in the drivers championship. The team continued with Nissan into 1999 and dominated the BTCC, with Nissan pulling the plug on the works effort at the end of the season. The team returned to the BTCC in 2004, running the Seat Sport effort for one season, before dominating the WTCC with the Chevrolet Cruze, winning the title for 4 consecutive seasons, alongside the BTCC for Jason Plato in 2010, again in a Chevrolet. As of 2016, RML run several customer programs for independent teams in the WTCC, their Cruze TC1 having won a handful of races since 2014.
David won 2 races in 1998, on his way to 6th in the championship, never being able to string together a consistent weekend in the car. He continued with Nissan into 1999, finishing 2nd in the championship, after a season long battle with his teammate Laurent Aiello. He only raced in a handful of BTCC races in 2000, replacing the injured James Thompson in a Honda for Thruxton & then replacing Colin Blair in a PRO Motorsport Nissan Primera.
David returned to the championship in 2002 for a 2 year stint at Proton, which started with much promise, but the project was not a great success. Thereafter, David provided commentary for Eurosport on the WTCC, although he continued to occasionally participate in the Britcar series. He was also lecturing Motorsport Management at Swansea Metropolitan University. Sadly, David was killed in a plane crash in 2008, when a private jet on which he was travelling crashed into a house in Farnborough, London.
1998 was Anthony’s second season in the BTCC & the year he achieved his first win. He won 7 times that season, but lost the championship to Rydell by 15 points. He moved to Ford in 1999 and finished runner up again in 2000, this time to team mate Alain Menu. Post supertouring, he led MG’s entry into the BTCC, being the only non-Vauxhall driver to win a race in 2001. He drove for the team for the next 3 seasons, winning the Independent’s cup ahead of Matt Neal in 2004. He also won the BTCC Masters race, at the end of the season. That was Reid’s last full season in the championship, but he briefly returned to the BTCC for the final three rounds of the 2009 season for WSR. In 2008, Anthony raced in the TC2000 series, developing & racing the works Honda Civic.
More recently, Anthony has been racing in the British GT Championship, winning the GTC class in 2011, alongside teammate Jordan Witt & starring in several episodes of “Top Gear”.
Tiff drove a 3rd Primera at the August Bank Holiday meeting at Brands Hatch & continued his touring car feud with Nigel Mansell. Tiff is well known for presenting TV Shows such as “Fifth Gear” which he hosted until cancellation in May 2016.
Tiff was the narrator for the recent “Touring Car Legends” documentry series on ITV4 & now does regular after dinner speeches.
Ford Mondeo Racing
West Surrey Racing ran the Ford contract to run the Mondeo in 1998, securing their first win at Silverstone with Will Hoy. After leaving Ford, WSR have run manufacturer efforts for Honda and MG, alongside programmes in A1 Grand Prix & outings in the WTCC. Since 2007, WSR have run a BMW programme in the BTCC, culminating in the BTCC title in 2009 & 2014 for Colin Turkington.
The 1991 Champion had his most successful season for Ford in 1998, taking his final BTCC win at Silverstone. He took a further podium finish at Donington and finished 10th in the championship. With Ford taking on Menu & Reid for 1999, Will was left without a drive, but took over an independent Laguna for the 2nd half of 1999, taking 2 independent wins and finishing 3rd in the independents standings. In 2000, he drove a Class B Peugeot 306 in a one-off appearance at Silverstone, his last appearance in the championship.
In 2002, Will had started making a name for himself as a TV presenter, providing expert analysis to ITV’s coverage of the BTCC. Sadly, after a short illness resulting from an inoperable brain tumour, Will Hoy passed away on 19th December 2002.
1998 was Craig’s first and only season in the BTCC. Brought in to replace Paul Radisich, Craig struggled to match his team mates results and was moved aside for Mansell in three meetings. Since leaving the BTCC, Craig went on to race in V8 Supercars and the Carerra Cup Championship, winning it on 5 occasions in 2006, ’08, ’11, ’12 & ’13. He also won the Bathurst 12 hours in 2007. In 2016, Craig competed in the 2016 Bathurst 12 Hours in a Class AA McLaren, but failed to finish the race.
Baird was awarded the New Zealand Order of Merit in the New Year Honours 2010, for services to motorsport.
The 1992 Formula 1 World Champion needs no introduction. In 1998, Ford signed Mansell to drive at 3 BTCC meetings – Donington, Brands Hatch & Silverstone. What followed was a mix of some utterly brilliant driving at Donington and a weekend of moaning and crashes at Brands Hatch. Despite struggling at times, Mansell went on to outscore Craig Baird, despite only racing in 3 meetings. 1998 was the last time we would see Nigel in the BTCC.
Nigel Mansell last raced in 2010, sharing a car with his sons Greg & Leo at Le Mans. Nigel is often found as an FIA steward at Formula 1 Grands Prix. He also plays golf & owns the Team UK Youth cycling team.
Esso Ultron Team Peugeot
1998 was a real struggle for the Peugeot team, who were run by Motor Sport Developments. With spiralling costs in the series & a lack of success, Peugeot withdrew from the BTCC at the end of 1998.
1998 was the last time MSD entered the BTCC.
The 1992 champion had a tough year in 1998, scoring only 10 points as he struggled with a poor car. Left without a drive in 1999, he joined Team Dynamics as Team Manager, overseeing Matt Neal’s historic first BTCC victory at Donington Park in 1999. He returned to the driving seat in 2001, driving the unreliable Alfa Romeo 147, hauling it onto the podium at Oulton Park. In 2002, he joined the Vic Lee run Peugeot team, winning 6 independent cups & getting a podium at Brands Hatch. 2002 was Tim’s last season in the BTCC.
In 2003, Tim became the voice of the BTCC, commentating for ITV – a role he continues to this day. He combines his ITV commitments with intermittment racing programmes, winning the Porsche Carerra Cup GB in 2008 & 2010 and racing sporadically in the British GT Championship. Tim also acts as a driver coach for many up & coming young drivers, and does lots of work for the BRDC.
The double World Cup winner joined Peugeot at the start of 1998, moving from Ford. He managed to draw some good performances from a poor car, finishing a high of 4th at Silverstone and scoring 31 points. 1998 is the last time we would see Paul in the BTCC, who was left without a drive when Peugeot withdrew. He moved to race in V8 Supercars until 2008, when Radisich fractured both ankles, fractured lumbar and thoracic vertebrae, cracked ribs and suffered bruising to his lungs when his throttle stuck open on track. His injuries brought an end his motor racing career.
Radisich is now managing director of a New Zealand oil company – Aegis Oil, a company founded by his father Frank.
The Vauxhall BTCC programme in 1998 was run by the relative newcomers – Triple 8 Race Engineering, which was set up in 1996, specifically to run the Vectras and this season would see Triple 8 take their first BTCC victories. The partnership between them and Vauxhall would last until 2009, with Vauxhall dominating the championship, winning every season except 2002 & 2006. When Vauxhall withdrew, Triple 8 continued running Vectras, until they took on a deal with MG to run MG6s in the BTCC, a deal which runs to this day.
Prior to the start of the 2015 season, the team rebranded itself as “Triple Eight Racing” across all its motorsport programs, introducing a new team name and logo. Triple Eight are also involved in several other forms of motorsport, ranging from the British Rally Championship to the Dunlop Sport Maxx Cup.
BTCC legend John Cleland had his most competitive season since 1995, taking 2 victories – both at Donington Park. The second of those victories has been dubbed as the best touring car race ever, as John beat Nigel Mansell to victory. His season was interupted by a heavy crash at Snetterton, breaking his ribs & forcing him to miss the Thruxton rounds in August. John continued into 1999, but struggled at times & announced his BTCC retirement at Thruxton. He finished his last race at a wet Silverstone in tenth place.
Since leaving the BTCC, John has raced in several series, such as the British GT Championship , ASCAR & the Bathurst 1000. He has also commentated on WTCC races & worked as an FIA Steward in the same championship. John also runs a Volvo and Jaguar dealership & has started running his Super Touring Vectra in the Historic Super Touring Championship.
1998 was Derek’s third and final BTCC season, during which, he took his first and only BTCC victory at a rain soaked Knockhill. He retired from racing at the end of the year, but continued his involvement in the Vauxhall team for another 3 years, as a director.
In 2005 and 2006, Warwick raced in the inaugural season of the Grand Prix Masters formula for retired Formula One drivers. He has also acted as driver steward at many Formula 1 Grands Prix over the past few seasons. Derek is also the current President of the British Racing Drivers Club, succeeding Damon Hill in 2011.
Flavio only made one appearance at a BTCC meeting, racing for the injured John Cleland at Thruxton in 1998. He was selected by Vauxhall after winning 4 races in the Vauxhall Vectra Challenge Support Series. He failed to score in both races, finishing 17th and 11th.
Since 2000, he has raced back in Brazil, in the V8 Stock cars – until 2014. In 2015, he moved to the Brasileiro de Marcas.
DC Cook Motorsports
DC Cook ran ex-works 1997 Laguna in the 1998 AutoSport Cup for Independents, driven by Tommy Rustad – who went on to win the AutoSport Cup. Matt Neal may have scored treble the number of points in the main championship, Rustad’s consistent season bagged him the title. In the last two meetings of the season, they also ran a Honda Accord for Paula Cook, daughter of team owner Derek Cook.
DC Cook Motorsports continued into the BTCC in 1999, but had to withdraw after the Snetterton race meeting, due to financial difficulties. Team owner Derek Cook was killed in a car crash whilst holidaying in Monaco on 1st May 2005.
1998 was Tommy’s only season in the BTCC, during which, he won the AutoSport Cup for Independents – with five class wins throughout the season. At the final meeting of the year, he was given a drive in a 3rd works Renault, where he would annoy team-mate Alain Menu, for having the audacity to overtake him! Tommy’s search for a works drive in 1999 was unsuccessful, so he moved to the Swedish Touring Car Championship, where he would become champion in 2000 & again in 2009.
Since 2014, Tommy has been racing sporadically in the FIA World Rallycross Championship.
Paula made her BTCC debut at the tail end of 1998, racing a Honda Accord in 4 races. She planned to continue racing the Honda for a full season in 1999, but the team had to withdraw Cook after the team fell into financial difficulties. After the BTCC, Paula raced in the Lotus Elise Championship and the Seat Cupra Championship.
After her father’s death, Paula took over the running of DC Cook Direct, until the company folded in 2009. Most recently, she acted as manager to nephew Jake Cook, racing in Formula Renault UK in 2013.
Brookes Motorsport had run in the Indepedents category fo the BTCC since 1996 & ran 1990 BTCC Champion Robb Gravett in 1998, finishing as runner-up to Tommy Rustad. The team continued into 1999, running a part-season for Lee Brookes.
In 2000, Brookes Motorsport rebranded as TCR, who have been running in the ToCA package, racing in many support series to the BTCC.
Outright 1990 BTCC champion, Robb Gravett spent the season battling Rustad and Neal for the AutoSport Cup for Independents, where he finished as runner up, just 1 point ahead of Matt Neal. 1998 was his final year of racing, though he was linked with a return to the BTCC in 2014 and again in 2016.
Gravett is now running a driver safety driving programme called Ultimate Car Control UK.
The 1996 Independent Champion was entered in the Oulton Park rounds at the back end of the 1998 BTCC season, but he failed to start either race.
Team Dynamics came into 1998 armed with their most comeptitive car yet, giving Matt Neal the chance to run up with the works teams, with him scoring several top 5 positions. Running with the ‘big boys’ was at a detriment to his Independent chances though, as several clashes led to him losing ground and ulitmately the Independents title. Team Dynamics continued in the BTCC, winning their first BTCC race in 1999, making history in the process. The won the BTCC title outright in 2005 and 2006, both for Matt Neal, in privately built Honda Integras.
For the past few seasons, Dynamics have been running the Honda works programme in the BTCC & won the 2016 BTCC title with Gordon Shedden.
Matt Neal had his most successful season to date in the Drivers Championship, but lost out in the AutoSport Cup – finishing 3rd. He went on to win his first ever race at Donington Park in 1999, becoming the first independent in the modern era to do so, taking another win in 2000. He joined Peugeot in 2001, but the deal collapsed after one race – so took his Primera to the ETCC, where he won the final race of the season. After a year at Vauxhall, Matt returned to Team Dynamics, now running Hondas. Matt took his first 2 BTCC in 2005 & 2006, before returning to Vauxhall for 2 seasons in 2008. When Vauxhall pulled out at the end of 2009, Neal returned to Team Dynamics, who had become the Honda works outfit – winning his 3rd BTCC title in 2011.
Neal is expected to continue in the Honda for 2017, alongside his role as Group Marketing Director at Rimstock Plc, the alloy wheel manufacturer founded by his father Steve.
Mint Motorsport ran a Vauxhall Vectra for Mark Lemmer in 1998, until Croft. Lemmer then moved across to the Mardi Gras Motorsport outfit. This was the last time the team would be seen in the BTCC.
Mark’s BTCC debut was in 1998, with Mint Motorsport, before moving to Mardi Gras Motorsport after Croft, where he raced for 3 more meetings. With 3 independent wins, he finished 4th in the standings. He returned to the BTCC in 2000, racing in the Class B championship, winning at Knockhill & coming 3rd in Class B. After the BTCC his racing has included the Britcar Endurance series and Historic Racing events.
Lemmer is presently the managing director of the family run Barwell Motorsport racing team, which was set up by his father Richard.
Mardi Gras Motorsport
Mardi Gras Motorsport ran a Vauxhall Vectra for the first 7 meetings of 1998, driven by Roger Moen. After he withdrew, they ran Mark Lemmer sporadically for the rest of the season. The team wouldn’t be seen in the BTCC again until 2004, with John George. The team has run since run cars for many drivers in the Clio Cup BTCC Support Series.
Roger drove in the first fourteen rounds of the 1998 season, before withdrawing after the Croft rounds. He finished fifth in the independents cup and twenty-first overall with one championship point. Roger returned to the BTCC in 2001, racing in the Production category for HTML in a Peugeot 306, winning 7 races on his way to 3rd in class.
In 2003, Roger raced in the Swedish Touring Car Championship.