2017 was the most open year of the championship for quite a few years. To pull no punches with that statement, the main reason was Paul Smith leaving Vee after dominating the series for years.
This attracted several former champions and front-runners back to the series Daniel Hands, and inspired the other front-runners like Ben Miloudi, Ian Jordan etc to step up and try to grab their chance.
Undoubtedly, some of the strongest competitors were either a bit rusty, only did part seasons, or had reliability issues – and with eventual winner Ben Miloudi not defending his crown and very strong runners like Adam Macauly moving his attention back to the Irish scene, 2018 will be even more of a free-for-all!
I’d say there are at least eight drivers likely to win the championship – and that’s without the usual surprise of a rookie jumping in at the front or one of the existing drivers stepping up to challenge the front runners.
I think Class B will be even tougher this year.
James Harridge could be the first to take A and B class together – which is both good and bad.
It’s bad that all us other Class B runners are clearly in a different league to the likes of him so we have no chance of ever beating him on track unless he has problems. This means we don’t get any trophies, but then from his point of view why win one trophy when you can win two?
The good thing is that if this does happen – and if not this year then it’s only a matter of time – it might make the organisers make some changes to make A and B class more distinct, and bring it back to the original ethos of B class being cheaper, having older and less technically advanced cars, and/or more inexperienced drivers.
And I’m not having a whinge here, because if new rules came in that excluded me from B Class I’d be totally fine with that.
As it stands, though, I’m one of the serious contenders in B, and although I’ll be starting off with a less than perfect car there is another engine on the cards along with new tyres and a few other improvements to come later in the year.
Jamie Harrison has moved to the Bears team in a new car and will undoubtedly be the one to beat other than Harridge, and I suspect Andrew Cooper will be very quick again this year (if he’s coming back?), as well as Jack Wilkinson if he does a full season.
Colin Gregory will be in Adam Macaulays car and I doubt that will slow him down too much, but I’m not sure if he’ll run that to B spec or move to Class A.
Ross Price also showed he could mix it at the front in B without much experience, so he’ll be another serious threat.
And the joy of Class B means you’re even more likely to see absolutely anyone, old or new, suddenly click and be up the front!
We have a couple of new tracks to most of us – Castle Coombe to start with and then the Snetterton 200 circuit at the end of the year, and then Mondello Park for all those travelling to Ireland for a chance to try some International craic.
Me? I still hate Brands so will be trying to break out of that this year, and hopefully Silverstone will be kind ot me for the first time ever.
If I have mildly better luck than last year it would be nice, and I will definitely be looking to *puts on a European accent* push very ‘ard.
I know both the car and myself are capable of more, so let’s see if I can unlock it!
Hope to see you all out there, and let’s have a safe, clean but hard fought 2018 season!
***On a side note, you may have seen that I’m doing a charity parachute jump on 5th May – please click the link and throw a few ponds my way for this! It’s for a great cause and massive thanks to those of you who have already given!