If there’s one person that knows what it takes to succeed in the Nankang Tyre BMW Compact Cup, it’s four-time defending champion (yep, we wrote that correctly!) Steven Dailly and incredibly, he’s elected to go for an unprecedented 5th title in the championship this season in 2021. To do this, he’ll need a winning start in the opening rounds at Croft in North Yorkshire this weekend, where 30 cars are set to go racing on Sunday.

First off, here’s a quick recap – Ian Jones and Tom Griffiths picked up the first two wins of the year at Oulton Park, despite in the second both Jones and Dailly sailing off the road in the wet conditions at Island Bend, before an incredible triple header at Thruxton in mixed conditions saw some of the championship’s best racing in recent times with Dailly, Jordan Stilp and Griffiths all taking a win apiece before the weekend was through. From here, Dailly went on a rampage at Brands Hatch with a double before taking another win, a second and a third at the Donington season finale to wrap up the crown. While Dailly is ready to return again this year, second-placed Tom Griffiths and third-placed Jordan Stilp have elected to move on, which means that Steven may well get some new challengers on his tail.

That said, one of his biggest adversaries this year, if not the biggest, is sure to be Ian Jones. Ian has been a regular front runner and contender over the last few seasons and ending up 4th in points in 2020 doesn’t fully represent what he’s capable of. He’s always been in the hunt and is a proven race winner, so expect him to be nothing less than formidable every time he’s on track. Next up from those who finished behind Dailly in points are Ben Huntley, the Dobles and Masters champion Paul Maguire. Mikey Doble is contesting a dual campaign of Ginetta GT5 Challenge with this season’s Compact Cup, meaning he’ll either be incredibly race prepared or incredibly tired come the end of the season – probably both. His father Mike is also back in one of the paddock’s favourite father and son duos and both are usually found in and around the top 10 and can certainly be ones to watch on any given weekend.

Ben Huntley had an incredibly consistent 2020 and managed to finish every single race inside the top 10 to help him earn 5th in the final standings. He’s proven himself to be pretty potent in wet weather and may be hoping for it on Sunday, but even in the dry he’s a fast peddler and will be looking to take a victory after he could only take a best of 2nd at the Oulton Park opener. As for Paul Maguire, he managed to frequent the top 10 several times with a best finish of 4th at Donington Park and the former MX-5 champion will be keen to carry on impressing in his third season behind the wheel of a BMW.

Other top drivers expected to make an impact at some stage this season include former Fiesta race winner Lee Dendy-Sadler, Oliver Faller, Rhys Claydon and Matt Flowers, four drivers that ended up hovering around the bottom of the top 10 in points by season’s end. All of them have had their moments showcasing flashes of pace and ended up with just 41 points separating them, showing that they can all race consistently and push the envelope a little more whenever required. All four are sure to be wanting a solid start to the year and if they can pick up an extra position or two more than expected, then that will surely be a bonus.

We’ve been waiting since October to get back to the track and now seven months later it’s finally time for our Compact Cuppers to hit the grid once more and get the 2021 season underway at last!

Scott Woodwiss


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