LAT Archive: 60 years of BTCC champs and record holders

The UK's greatest motorsport series celebrates its diamond jubilee this season. We look back at those who have taken top honours in British Touring Cars

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The British Touring Car Championship ranks alongside Germany’s DTM and Australia’s Supercars as immensely popular and competitive national tin top series. Only, of course, the BTCC has been running longer than either.

This year the series celebrates its 60th anniversary and will be marked by an extended 60-mile final race at Snetterton in which cars will run without success ballast. Also the Silverstone Classic and Goodwood Festival of Speed will pay homage with a flurry of races and special car and driver appearances.

Before then, and thanks to LAT Images, AutoClassics reflects on some of its champions and record breakers.

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1958 British Saloon Car Championship

Silverstone, England. May 3.

Jack Sears won the inaugural season of the BTCC in 1958, albeit then known as the British Saloon Car Championship. He and title rival Tommy Sopwith were tied on points during the climax of the season. The duo sparred in Riley 1.5s, with Sears emerging victorious. Since 2013 a trophy named in his honour has been awarded for upcoming drivers in the series.

1968 British Saloon Car Championship

Silverstone, England. July 27.

Ten years later and it was Frank Gardner who would be crowned king, marking a triumphant debut for the Ford Escort – which celebrates its 50th anniversary in 2018. Here Gardner leads the 2000cc class from Peter Arundell.

1978 British Saloon Car Championship

Brands Hatch, England. July 14-16

Arguably, the Patrick Motor Sport Mini is now more recognisable from its Goodwood Members' Meeting exploits in the hands of Nick Swift. But in 1978 it was Richard Longman in the 1275 GT that took the title. It was the first championship win for a Mini since 1969.

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1984 British Touring Car Championship

Brands Hatch, England. July 22

With four titles racked up, including three on the bounce, having won in 1975, 1983, 1984 and 1985, Andy Rouse is the most successful BTCC driver of all time. It was only in 2011 that his then record of 60 series wins was beaten. He's seen here descending through Paddock Hill Bend at Brands Hatch in a Rover Vitesse on his way to the '84 title.

1988 British Touring Car Championship

Brands Hatch, England. July 24

In 1988 Frank Sytner took both the Class B, for engine capacities between 2001cc and 2500cc, and overall crown in his BMW E30 M3. He would repeat the class victory in an M3 two years later although missed out on overall honours to Ford Sierra RS500 driver Robb Gravett.

1998 British Touring Car Championship.

Brands Hatch, England. August 31

Super Swede and cult touring car hero Rickard Rydell pits his Super Touring era Volvo S40 against Le Mans podium finisher Anthony Reid's Nissan Primera GT. They go on to score a one-two but it's Rydell who wins the 1998 championship.

2000 British Touring Car Championship

Brands Hatch, England. April 8/9

Jason Plato takes to the grass as he celebrates his first victory for the Vauxhall team, winning at Brands Hatch. In 2011 Plato went on to beat Rouse's record and going on to extend his tally to 97 so far. He's also a double BTCC champion and has finished the season inside the top three on 12 occassions.

2003 British Touring Car Championship

Rockingham, England. June 21/22

But it's Plato's archrival Matt Neal that has the honour of most BTCC starts, with a total of 633 racked up since 1991. Plato is second, some 93 behind. Back-to-back titles were scored for Neal in 2005 and 2006, with a third coming in 2011. Here he leads team-mate Alan Morrison in the first round to be staged at Rockingham Motor Speedway.

2008 British Touring Car Championship

Snetterton, Norfolk, England. July 11/12

Italian Fabrizio Giovanardi catches the undertray of his VX Racing Vauxhall Vectra as he clips the chicane kerbing at Snetterton. He celebrated 50 years of the BTCC by taking title honours later on in 2008.

Images courtesy of LAT Archive

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