Sam Tordoff leads the British Touring Car Championship by 11 points over Gordon Shedden
(Photo from: www.btcc.net)
Sam Tordoff remains in control of the 2016 British Touring Car Championship season after three consistent rounds at the weekend, as those around him faltered. The WSR BMW driver now leads the standings by 11 points of reigning champion Gordon Shedden with Matt Neal in the second Honda Civic Tyre-R a further 2 points behind in third.
None of the championship contenders had it their own way on Saturday during qualifying as Ashley Sutton took his second pole position of the season in the Triple Eight MG with Tom Ingram second and Josh Cook in the second MG third. Andrew Jordan qualified fourth with Adam Morgan fifth Rob Austin sixth. Matt Neal was the highest place championship contender in seventh with Hunter Abbott eighth. Aron Smith and Gordon Shedden rounded out the top 10.
Race 1 and as the lights went out it was Ingram who took the lead ahead of Sutton, Jordan and Cook as many drivers went wide at Copse as Warren Scott span. At the end of lap 1 the order was Ingram, Sutton, Jordan, Cook, Austin, Morgan, Aron Smith, Neal, Shedden and Moffat.
The top four quickly developed a gap over the rest of the field as Morgan overtook Austin for fifth. Behind the top 10 the championship contenders were on the move as Tordoff, Jackson, Collard and Turkington were all together just outside points. Lap 4 and Cook and Jordan collided at Luffield as Cook attempted to go round the outside of the Pirtek Racing man. Cook managed to recover and completed the move for third going into Becketts and quickly set his sights on the lead duo.
Lap 7 and Sutton made his move as Ingram ran slightly wide at Luffield enabling the MG rookie to slide up the inside, and taking the lead as they went onto lap 8. Onto lap 12 and Cook had closed onto the back of Ingram and, with the help of a slight tap at Luffield, he made his way past into second. However behind Shedden fell to the rear of the field as he suffered a front left puncture.
As the race went on the big battles started to occur behind the leaders as on lap 18 Austin re-overtook Morgan for fifth as Aron Smith was seventh with Matt Neal performing a fantastic defence display to keep Moffat, Hill, Depper and Collard behind him. A lap later and Neal and Moffat clashed allowing Hill through with Collard passing Moffat a lap later. Depper was the loser however as he suffered damaged in the contact leaving him with only three wheels on his car.
There was more bad news for Neal as he too suffered a puncture on lap 21 though at the front Sutton took the flag to take his second win of the season ahead of his teammate Cook, with Ingram third, Jordan a lonely fourth with Rob Austin fifth and Adam Morgan sixth. Seventh was Jake Hill followed by Aron Smith, Collard and Colin Turkington who rounded out the top 10.
However the dram from race 1 was not over as after the race ended as the Triple Eight MG’s were excluded from the race for a technical infringement which promoted Tom Ingram into first, Jordan second and Rob Austin third. It meant that the duo would have to start from the rear of the grid for Race 2 however they would keep the success ballast they got for the positions.
Onto Race 2 with Ingram on pole and Jordan second. Again Ingram lead the first lap after a good start followed by Jordan, Austin, Morgan, Hill, Collard, Aron Smith, Turkington, Plato and Moffat. The order at the front remained the same until lap five when Morgan made his move for third, which also allowed Jake Hill through for fourth. Onto lap eight and Jordan made his move on Ingram for the lead, diving up the inside of Becketts, which also gave Morgan a chance to move up to second, which he completed at Luffield.
As the race went on Rob Austin started to drop down the order as Aron Smith, Turkington and Plato all made their way past the Toyota. However lap 10 and Smith ran into difficulties as he also suffered a left front puncture. Lap 11 and Turkington and Plato passed Hill for fourth and fifth respectively.
Lap 13 and it went from bad to worse for Austin as he too suffered a left front puncture, dropping out of the points and to the rear of the field. Jeff Smith also suffered a front left puncture three laps later, however his blow out was so sever it blew the front left corner off his car, spreading debris all over the circuit down the Wellington Straight. This bought out the safety car.
Lap 20 and the safety car was back in, with five laps to go, leaving Jordan and Morgan to resume their battle for the lead. However Jordan stretched out his lead and was able to take his second win of the season and keep his slim title hopes alive. Adam Morgan kept second ahead of Ingram, Turkington and Plato. Mat Jackson finished sixth, Collard seventh however it was heartbreak for Hill who suffered a read left puncture on lap 22. This ensured Shedden finished eighth, Moffat ninth as Abbott rounded out the top 10.
Race 3, and time for the reverse grid race as Shedden found himself on pole with Collard second. Lights out and Collard took the lead into the first bend, using his rear wheel advantage from standing starts to perfection as Jackson and Shedden ran side by side for half a lap before the Scot was able to slot into second.
At the end of lap 1 the order was Collard, Shedden, Jackson, Plato, Turkington, Ingram, Jordan, Morgan, Moffat and Tordoff. Lap 2 and Shedden was back in the lead, performing the move of the day on Collard, flinging his Honda up the inside of Becketts on the brakes and taking the lead before the right hand bend onto the Wellington Straight.
A lap later and Jackson was through for second, again at Becketts but this time around the outside to take the inside line around the right hander. Behind Matt Neal was on a charge, following a lacklustre second race, and on lap 4 he made his move on Jack Goff for twelfth.
Shedden began to eke out a gap over Jackson who was closely followed by Collard and Plato. Lap 8 and the first casualty of the lead group occurred as Aron Smith again retired, this time with a mechanical issue.
Behind Tordoff and Neal were making their way through the field with the duo up to eighth and ninth respectively on lap 11. The following lap and Tordoff was past Jordan for seventh, his final overtake of the day, while Neal was able to get past two laps later at his favourite overtaking spot Becketts. The same lap Adam Morgan received a drive through penalty for track limits, dropping him out of the points while a lap later fifth placed Ingram crawled back to the pits with a technical problem.
This promoted Tordoff and Neal up the order however Neal was not done as he overtook his championship rival on lap 20 for sixth. Six became fifth on the final lap as Jason Plato suffered a left front puncture however no one could get near Shedden who took his fourth win of the year, ahead of Jackson who performed another superb defensive drive for second. Rob Collard rounded out the podium places ahead of Turkington, Neal, Tordoff, Cook and Jordan with Moffat and the second MG of Sutton rounding out the top 10.
It was a fantastic three races which leaves eight drivers with a mathematical chance of winning the 2016 BTCC drivers title. Brands Hatch plays host to what will be a fantastic finale.