The 1995 Auto Trader RAC British Touring Car Championship was won by John Cleland in a Vauxhall Cavalier. The Independents’ title was won by Matt Neal in his Team Dynamics Ford Mondeo with fourteen class wins.
Changes for 1995
- All race weekends were now double header meetings, except the British GP support race.
- TOCA announced wings and spoilers were eligible for all cars in the new season.
After their domination in 1994, Alfa Corse went back to contesting the Italian Supertouring Championship, leaving Prodrive to run the works Alfa Romeo team. Derek Warwick was signed to drive alongside 1994 driver Giampiero Simoni, with champion Gabriele Tarquini returning in a third car at Oulton Park. He replaced Simoni after the Silverstone F1 support round, but results continued to be disappointing and Alfa Romeo withdrew from the championship at the end of the season.
TWR Volvo replaced the 850 Estate with the 850 saloon deriative. The cars were instantly on the pace, with Rickard Rydell winning round two and teammate Tim Harvey winning both races at the next round at Brands Hatch. Rydell remained in championship contention until the penultimate round, taking three more victories in the process whilst Harvey dropped back in the standings and at times was unconvincing compared to Rydell.
Frank Williams setup Williams Touring Car Engineering and took over development of Renault Laguna, whilst Sodemo Moteurs supplied engines. 1994 runner up Alain Menu was retained and took more wins than any other driver during the season and he partnered by 1991 champion Will Hoy moving from Toyota. Towards the end of the year, Renault to take the manufacturers title for the first time.
Rouse Sport ran Ford’s works effort for a third season with the V6 Mondeo. Double World Champion Paul Radisich was joined by British F3 championship winner Kelvin Burt. The car was competitive in the early part of the year but fell back in the development race. The powerful but heavy V6 contributed to major front tyre wear that saw the cars become mobile chicanes as races progressed. Radisich in particular struggled, scoring just 2 points in the final 10 races.
Vauxhall announced that the Cavalier was to be replaced by the new Vectra at the end of the season, so 1995 was the last hurrah for the model. John Cleland was joined by James Thompson and despite the Volvo and Renault giving strong competition, Cleland’s consistency and the Cavalier’s reliability took both championships. Thompson crashed heavily during testing for the Knockhill Circuit round and injuries sustained would see him miss the remaining rounds. Jeff Allam was brought in as a last minute replacement for Knockhill and then Michael Briggs, the 1995 South African Touring Car Championship winner, for the rest of the season.
Team Schnitzer were heavily involved in other touring car championships around the world in 1995, with 1994 BTCC drivers Joachim Winkelhock competing in the German Supertouring championship, whilst Steve Soper raced in Japan and took the title there. BMW instead employed it’s UK arm to take on the challenge, with factory drivers Johnny Cecotto and David Brabham. The season was a disaster by BMW standards however, with no wins or even a podium finish to their credit.
Toyota retained Julian Bailey and Tim Sugden, with Toyota Team Europe engineering the Carina with the backing of a major new sponsor, Mobil 1. Both drivers regularly ran near the higher end of the midfield at the start of the season. At Snetterton, the team debuted a brand new right hand drive car, driven by Sugden and then Bailey for the remainder of the year. The new car was a significant step forward to the origianl, allowing the drivers to challenge the top 3 teams, but it wasn’t enough to stop Toyota pulling the plug at the end of the season.
Total Team Peugeot once again entered the Peugeot 405 Mi16, now in its final year. Patrick Watts remained with the team for a second season and he was joined by Simon Harrison, who was the 1994 National Saloon Car Championship winner. Harrison struggled, scoring points on just 4 occasions. Watts was more competitive, finishing on the podium twice.
Honda joined the championship with Motor Sport Developments, entering the Accord driven by David Leslie and double independent champion, James Kaye. Results steadily improved as the season progressed and Leslie in particular was able to mix it at the front of the pack, scoring a podium at Oulton Park.
In the Independents Championship, Matt Neal dominated the season and easily won his second Independent title driving a 1994 Rouse Sport Ford Mondeo – run, as ever, by family outfit Team Dynamics.
Mint Motorsport entered a 1993 Mondeo, also built by Rouse Sport. Hamish Irvine finished fourth in his 1994 Peugeot 405. 1990 BTCC champion Robb Gravett entered the opening rounds at Donington Park in a 1993 Vauxhall Cavalier, before returning at the Silverstone GP support race in an ex-STW Ford Mondeo.
At Sneterton, Gravett scored the first outright podium finish for an independent driver in the 2 litre era. Australian Charlie Cox also entered a Ford Mondeo. A strategic tyre choice saw him take 5th place outright at Brands Hatch in April. Sadly, at the following round, he was involved in a huge crash destroying the car and forcing him to miss a number of races. He returned at Brands Hatch in a rebuilt car, the first hatchback Mondeo to race in the BTCC.
A Mazda 323 was due to run, built by Roger Dowson and run as Team Magic, with Slim Borgudd driving, but the entry never saw fruition and was ultimately canned.