I have caught up with the 2016 BTCC runner up Sam Tordoff to discuss BTCC, Renault Clio Cup and the future.
- Who or what inspired you to become a racing driver?
I have always had a passion for anything with engines and was brought up surrounded by cars and motorbikes. It was therefore a logical step when my dad put me in a Go-Kart aged 8.
Since then we never really had a plan to be a racing driver – we simply took it one year at a time, enjoyed ourselves and most importantly had fun.
- What was it like completing in the Renault Clio Cup UK over two seasons where you had plenty of success?
At the time, it was very new and something completely different. Previously I had been Karting for 10 years, understood it all and knew everyone in the paddock. Suddenly arriving on the TOCA package and racing cars was very daunting and I felt like a very small fish in a very big pond.
Looking back now, jumping straight in at the deep end from Karting to Clio’s helped me improve a lot!
- 2010 saw you make your BTCC bow at the Brands Hatch season finale. How excited were you to step into BTCC for the final weekend?
Probably the most excited I had ever been! In terms of driving and experience, I probably wasn’t ready but the opportunity presented itself and I jumped at the chance! Racing in the BTCC was always the ultimate goal so to do it so early in my career was fantastic.
- After that weekend, you signed up for the Porsche Carrera Cup GB for two years. How different was it racing in the Porsche Carrera instead of the Renault Clio Cup?
Massive! It was a big learning curve to drive a Porsche which took me two years to master. Having the unique layout of a Porsche with its engine so far back does require a very different driving style from that of a Clio and taught me a lot which I could later use to my advantage when driving a BMW in BTCC.
- Upon graduating to BTCC full time, you’ve had successful mid top ten championship finishes in the BTCC for Triple Eight and West Surrey Racing. Did you expect to find yourself in the title race this season in light of your 6-7th championship finishes in previous seasons?
Absolutely. I always knew I was capable I just needed the machinery and experience to all come together. The MG was very fast but lacked race pace and in my second year we have far too many technical problems.
I moved to BMW looking to progress where my first year was always going to be a learning year with the goal of a title tilt this year and that’s exactly what happened.
- How tough was it to see the title slip out of your grasp during the final race of the season and what did you learn from that experience that will make you a better driver next season, should you decide to remain in the series and have another shot at the BTCC crown?
It was very tough to take having led the championship for so long but I am a firm believer that everything happens for a reason. I had to contend with a lot of pressure and media attention, all of which will be massively useful for the future.
Regardless of finishing P2 in the championship, I am hugely proud of what we achieved and not forgetting we also won the Teams and Constructors’ Championships.
- You seem to have a great record with Snetterton in comparison to other circuits with two wins and countless points finishes. What is it about Snetterton that seems to suit you as a driver more than other circuits?
To be perfectly honest I am not sure! I had a great record there in Clio’s on the old circuit and I was worried when they extended it that I would lose the edge that I seemed to have developed there! However, that’s not been the case and I have subsequently performed very well on the new 300 layout.
- How easy is it to manage your day job as an accountant alongside racing in the BTCC on weekends?
Not easy but I find a way. It is my day job that allows me to go racing and I am very proud of our family business and what my Grandad has achieved. I owe so much to him and JCT600 for where I am today that being at work never feels like a chore.
- Finally, what are your hopes and ambitions for the future?
In terms of motor racing I would like to explore GT Racing and race at some of the blue-ribbon events such as Spa, Monza and Le Mans 24Hr – I certainly don’t want to be stuck in BTCC for the rest of my career just yet.
Outside of racing, I want to work hard and see JCT600 become the best Motor Dealer Group in the country.