Reid vs. Rydell, 20 years on: Time For Coffee?

Oft-repeated phrase though it is, the Super Touring era of BTCC really was magnificent. Big grids, big budgets and big name drivers all conspired to create some truly memorable racing and hours of entertainment. One or two rather cool cars, too...

Everyone will have their favourite season, but 1998 lingers fondly in the memory for a number of reasons. First is simply that Super Touring was in decline after that; for 1999 Peugeot and Audi dropped out, then in 2000 - the final year of those regulations - just three manufacturer teams entered. Throughout the 90s there had been huge manufacturer support, with eight factory teams a regular fixture every season - 1998 would be the final year in history that Britain's premier tin top championship enjoyed such widespread investment.

What a season it was, too. With the Audis no longer able to run four-wheel drive for 1998 all cars were front-wheel drive. While there were victories for '97 champ Alain Menu in his Laguna, the Vauxhall Vectra driven by John Cleland, Will Hoy (Ford Mondeo) and James Thompson (Honda Accord), it was Anthony Reid and Rickard Rydell who proved the class of the field.

Reid's Nissan Primera and Rydell's Volvo S40 could always be found somewhere near the front of the pack, most notably at Brands Hatch when the two came to blows both on and off the track. Rounds 25 and 26 would decide who took the title, because nobody else could at this point, and it was the Swede's to lose.

As can be seen in the video, it's proper BTCC end-of-term carnage. Anthony Reid attempts perhaps a move never seen outside of TOCA Touring Cars, Alain Menu fights both Hondas numerous times and even David Leslie gets involved in a skirmish. More than that it's genuinely tense racing, James Thompson always lurking with the potential to turn things on their head.

Of course that didn't happen, and Rydell won the championship in that glorious, five-cylinder S40. In fact he won the BTCC on 20th September 1998, so here it is to mark 20 years (and a day) since that triumph. What a win. What a car. What a series...



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Comments (26) Join the discussion on the forum

  • DanG355 21 Sep 2018

    Aaah the 90's Super Touring era. My favourite time for the BTCC - saloon cars that could take a battering, lots of ramming each other to make passes, hot headed drivers (John Cleland was my pantomime villain) and a grid of cars that looked like the road cars with larger wheels and spoilers.

    Fond memories of watching these live on the BBC and I think I remember Murray Walker commentating although that could be a different era. Every race was a slam fest of tit for tat bumping, blatant use of the "ram another car rather than use your brakes to slow down at a hairpin" method and yet I don't remember many driver reprimands - what happened on the track stayed on the track!

    Looking back at it now I'm not sure the large manufacturers would back such antics on track but my word it was great to watch.

    I still enjoy the BTCC today but by these standards it just feels a little more like a lower formula despite the progress in technology and no doubt faster lap times.

    Might watch more tonight to see Volvo estates on track, Alfa Romeos flipping over umpteen times, Smokin Joe in the BMW, Mansell taking out Needell and an angry Scotsman giving an irate interview after coming off worse in a demolition derby!

    Edited by DanG355 on Friday 21st September 09:54

  • GiveItSomeWellie 21 Sep 2018

    I remember getting the 1998 season review as a gift for my 8th birthday on VCR. I don't think I've ever watched something quite so much, I'm fairly sure I could recite most of the results!

    This was really what got me into racing. F1 was cool, but my parents had a Vectra and I could see it going racing with my next door neighbors Nissan Primera, and my parents friends Volvo V40, there wasn't anything better to an 8 year old!

    The feature race at the 2nd Donington meeting has to go down as one of the most exciting races ever held, I still love watching it to this day.

  • Pintofbest 21 Sep 2018

    Most of my company car history on that grid - loved that series.

  • The Brummie 21 Sep 2018

    So much more fun than today’s BTCC. Super Tourers really were the dogs bks.

  • DanielSan 21 Sep 2018

    I may have to get the season review out this afternoon.... It was great to see Rydell driving his S40 at Silverstone Classic this year, so many memories came back. And always great to see John Cleland out in the Vectra at the historic touring car rounds. It’s like being 12 again

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