Wednesday, 30 May 2018

BTCC 2018 at Thruxton

This year, the MSA British Touring Car Championship (BTCC) celebrates its 60th anniversary. The last event took place at Thruxton on the weekend of the 19th-20th of May, and our director Jude went along to take in some of the action!

Thruxton held its first BTCC race back in 1968, and with 11 corners over 2.36 miles, this track sees the highest average speed of any circuit visited by the BTCC. 2018 saw new records set for the circuit, with Matt Neal setting a new fastest qualifying lap with a time of 1min 15.612s (112.17mph), and Tom Ingram setting a new fastest race lap with a time of 1min 17.060s (110.06mph) – beating Yvan Muller's 2002 longest standing lap record recorded on the BTCC calendar. 



Mac Tools with Ciceley Motorsport's Adam Morgan moved to the summit of the BTCC standings with victory in the final race in front of a record crowd, following on from points scoring finishes in the first two bouts in Hampshire. 

Matt Neal claimed the early bragging rights as he converted pole position into a race win, before Josh Cook scored his second victory in as many meetings with victory in the next contest. Halford Yuasa Racing's Neal produced a commanding lights-to-flag performance in the opening race, after seeing off race-long pressure from team BMW's Colin Tarkington.

Despite the season so far largely being dominated by a number of young drivers, it was the multiple BTCC champion duo of Neal and Turkington that fought back at the UK's fastest circuit. Neal took a maiden pole position for the all-new Honda Civic Type R during qualifying on Saturday, and he duly converted that advantage into a 62nd career victory. Turkington pulled his BMW 125i M Sport alongside the Honda off the line, but Neal hung in at the Complex as all 32-cars made it through for the first time. Turkington kept Neal honest throughout the 16-lap duration, but their positions remained the same until the finish. 

The Team GardX Racing with Motorbase Ford Focus of Sam Tordoff hounded down Dan Commish's Honda for the final place on the podium, but the latter fended off every advance, and grabbed the second outright rostrum of his debut season. Power Maxed TAG Racing's Cook then followed up his recent Donington Park success with another stellar display at the Hampshire speedbowl. 

Pole-sitter Neal couldn't hang on off-the-line as Turkington's BMW blasted ahead of the Honda Civic Type R on the run down to the Complex. Commish's Honda bogged down at the start, which allowed Tordoff's Ford Focus and Andrew Jordan's Pirtek Racing BMW by in a tussle for third. 

Progress was soon being made behind, however, as the Power Maxed TAG Racing duo of Cook and Senna Procter slipped past Team Shredded Wheat with Gallagher's Tom Chilton. Procter's advances were halted at that point but teammate Cook was on a charge as he saw off Tordoff and Jordan in quick succession. 

Cook's Astra then surged around the outside of Neal's Honda at the final chicane and by lap 10 the local hero was challenging for the lead. The moment of truth came at the end of the next tour as the Bath driver pulled an almost identical move on Turkington's BMW 125i M Sport.

Team GardX Racing with Motorbase's Tordoff held onto fourth from Jordan and Procter. Morgan's second win of the season came in dominate fashion as he commanded the final race from start-to-finish in his Mercedes-Benz A-Class. The Lancastrian driver got a good getaway from pole position and he was able to defend well from an early attack from the Vauxhall Astra of Procter. 

Morgan's job was made slightly more comfortable when a charging Jack Goff hauled his Honda onto the back of Procter's Astra, and a squabble for second ensued. Goff made his move stick on Procter in the final third of the contest, but it was too late to make any inroads into Morgan's advantage. The 29-year-old took the chequered flag and with it the lead in the overall driver's standings. 

Tordoff completed a solid day for Team GardX Racing with Motorbase by taking fourth, whilst team BMW's Turkington fired himself back into championship contention with another top five finish, following on from his double podium earlier in the day. 

Morgan leads the standings by just a point from Cook, with previous championship leader Tom Ingram a further ten points in arrears. Speed works Motorsports' Ingram endured a challenging day after a non-finish in the opener, but the Toyota star provided some respite with a seventh place and a brand-new lap record in the finale.

Results

Round 7

  1. Matt Neal (GBR) Halfords Yuasa Racing 16 laps
  2. Colin Turkington (GBR) Team BMW +0.860s
  3. Dan Commish (GBR) Halfords Yuasa Racing +3.699s
  4. Sam Tordoff (GBR) Team GardX Racing with Motorbase +4.040s
  5. Tom Chilton (GBR) Team Shredded Wheat Racing with Gallagher +5.290s
  6. Andrew Jordan (GBR) BMW Pirtek Racing +8.922s
  7. Senna Procter (GBR) Power Maxed TAG Racing +9.361s
  8. Brett Smith (GBR) WIX Racing with Eurotech +9.725s
  9. Josh Cook (GBR) Power Maxed TAG Racing +14.929s
  10. Chris Smiley (GBR) BTC Norlin Racing +15.436s
Round 8
  1. Josh Cook (GBR) Power Maxed TAG Racing 16 laps
  2. Colin Turkington (GBR) Team BMW +1.325s
  3. Matt Neal (GBR) Halfords Yuasa Racing +5.285s
  4. Sam Tordoff (GBR) Team GardX Racing with Motorbase +6.287s
  5. Andrew Jordan (GBR) BMW Pirtek Racing +6.595s
  6. Senna Proctor (GBR) Power Maxed TAG Racing +7.005s
  7. Adam Morgan (GBR) Mac Tools with Ciceley Motorsport +7.419s
  8. Jack Goff (GBR) WIX Racing with Eurotech +7.816s
  9. Tom Chilton (GBR) Team Shredded Wheat Racing with Gallagher +9.114s
  10. Chris Smiley (GBR) BTC Norlin Racing +10.203s
Round 9
  1. Adam Morgan (GBR) Mac Tools with Ciceley Motorsport 16 laps
  2. Jack Goff (GBR) WIX Racing with Eurotech +2.433s
  3. Senna Proctor (GBR) Power Maxed TAG Racing +3.147s
  4. Sam Tordoff (GBR) Team GardX Racing with Motorbase +5.045s
  5. Colin Turkington (GBR) Team BMW +5.994s
  6. Josh Cook (GBR) Power Maxed TAG Racing +6.544s
  7. Tom Ingram (GBR) Speedworks Motorsport +6.922s
  8. Matt Neal (GBR) Halfords Yuasa Racing +7.722s
  9. Chris Smiley (GBR) BTC Norlin Racing +12.985s
  10. Rob Collard (GBR) Team BMW +13.205s

The next rounds of the BTCC take place at Oulton Park, on the weekend of the 9th-10th of June.