Following a summer break which has seen to last forever the BTCC blasted back into action in the glorious sunshine of Norfolk’s Snetterton circuit.
Teams and drivers had been busy during the summer break with BMR racing now running a full complement of VW CC’s, disposing of the Vauxhall Insignia’s in which Warren Scott and Jack Goff began the campaign in. It would be the first time since 1988 that the BTCC didn’t have a Vauxhall competing.
On the drivers front, championship hopefuls Colin Turkington and the Team Dynamics pair of Matt Neal and Gordon Shedden all made appearances at the recent Silverstone classic in contemporary touring car machinery.
Practice threw up the first incident of the weekend when Andrew Jordan crashed heavily and was forced to miss the rest of the day’s action following a precautionary trip to hospital. After a second check up on the Sunday morning the champion was cleared to race, although he would start Race 1 from the pitlane.
Two other drivers having a less than great qualifying were Rob Collard – who would start 19th – and Fabrizio Giovanardi who after qualifying 24th would have to start from the back of the grid, following a stewards ruling for an incident at the previous event.
Jason Plato took the pole in his MG from Colin Turkington’s BMW ahead of MG teammate Sam Tordoff, Matt Neal’s Honda, Alain Menu’s VW and Tom Ingram’s Toyota. The other main championship challenger Gordon Shedden would start back in 11th.
Lap 1 Plato and Turkington lead away, Menu gets a great start up to 3rd, ahead of Tordoff. Big incident behind, the BMW of Nick Foster is spun round, Tordoff is off the track and several other cars take to the grass to avoid further contact. Further around the lap Goff in his new VW tangles with the MG of Marc Hynes sending the MG driver spinning down the order.
Lap 2 Tordoff has recovered his MG back to the pits and into retirement. Tom Ingram is up to 4th place ahead of Matt Neal.
Lap 3 Neal gets 4th back from Ingram, just behind the pair Adam Morgan in the A Class Mercedes is catching the VW of Aron Smith. Menu seems to be struggling just ahead of Neal.
Lap 4 As the train behind Menu increases Ingram gets mugged through the Esses and the Bombhole as Smith, Morgan and Shedden all pass the Toyota. Neal Passes Menu and moves up to 3rd behind Plato and Turkington.
Lap 5 Problems for Menu? Smith attempts to pass his teammate on the run down to turn one, slight contact between the two but both continue, Morgan takes full advantage and passes the two of them, Menu up on two wheels as he takes a very tight line on the inside. Ingram loses another place to Mat Jackson’s Ford Focus.
Lap 7 Morgan is pulling away from the VW train and starting to catch Neal, further back Rob Austin taps the Toyota of Glyn Geddie into a spin with his Audi A4.
Lap 8 Chris Stockton retires his Chevrolet Cruze again, more bad luck for the BTC Racing guys. Up front it’s calmed down somewhat, Plato, Turkington, Neal, Morgan, Menu, Smith, Shedden, Jackson, Ingram and Collard your top 10.
Lap 10 A collision between Martin Depper’s Civic and Jack Clarke’s Focus sees Andrew Jordan take two places in one corner.
Final Lap No change at the front Plato has this sewn up but behind there are a few things that need sorting out, Morgan is all over the Honda of Neal, fighting for the final podium position. Ingram off! His front wheel parts company with the rest of the car on the final lap, no contact looks like a failure, more bad luck for the talented youngster.
But at the flag Plato takes the victory from Turkington, Neal, Morgan, Menu, Smith, Shedden, Jackson, Collard and Goff.
Lap 1 Turkington gets a great start and leads away from Plato, drama behind as Menu clips the front on Morgan’s Mercedes with the rear of his VW sending the Swiss spinning off into the barriers and into retirement, safety car deployed.
The order behind the safety car is Turkington, Plato, Neal, Morgan, Shedden, Jackson, Giovanardi, Smith, Collard and Andrew Jordan recovering his bad weekend to 10th place.
Lap 5 Green flag, racing again now for 15 laps. Morgan gets a good run on Neal but for now stays close behind the Honda, Smith and Collard touch which gives Jordan an opportunity to pass the pair, Collard holds line and Goff tries his luck up the inside. 3 wide won’t work, Jordan gets spun to the grass and to the back of the pack, not a good weekend for the reigning champion.
Lap 6 Big contact between Jack Clarke and Warren Scott sees the former motorcycle racer up on two wheels, up front Shedden has caught the Mercedes of Morgan as Neal pulls away and chases down Plato’s MG.
Lap 7 Clarke retires following the Scott contact, Shedden passes Morgan at The Esses, Robb Holland Audi also looks like it’s been in the wars circulating with a missing rear bumper. Back at the front lato has caught Turkington, and Shedden, Neal, Morgan still keeping in contention with the Honda pair.
Lap 8 Plato passes Turkington for the lead at the Montreal hairpin, just behind the lead battle the two Hondas also swap places.
Lap 9 The order is Plato, Turkington, Shedden,Neal, Morgan, Jackson, Giovanardi, Smith.
Lap 10 Collard takes a small off track excursion and rejoins way down the order, as does Tom Ingram, giving the Toyota a run out for the final few laps prior to the third race of the day.
Lap 11 Turkington not giving up as he fight s hard for the lead with Plato, a little further back Giovanardi has his hands and mirrors full with Aron Smith in the VW looking for a way past the multiple champion.
Lap 12 Glyn Geddie in the wars again as he gets a little tap from the Ford Focus of Dave Newsham which sends the Scot into the barriers on the run down to the hairpin. No safety car but yellow flags mean that there will be no overtaking here.
Lap 14 Plato has started to pull a small gap on Turkington.
Final Lap Another victory for Plato from Turkington and a different Honda in third this time in Shedden ahead of Neal and Morgan with Jackson, Giovanardi, Smith, Tordoff and Hynes going into the draw for the race 3 pole.
Aron Smith gets the luck and will start Race 3 on pole from Giovanardi, Jackson, Morgan and the rest, one person who won’t be starting race 3 however is Andrew Jordan who is still suffering the effects of Saturdays crash and has been advised by doctors to sit this one out.
Giovanardi is the only front runner not on the soft tyre in this race, will it benefit him during the latter stages?
Lap 1 Its grid order for the front but just behind Turkington gets a great start and passes Shedden, as does Plato. No dramas through the first part of the lap this time however Jack Clarke retires his Focus with what looks like a mechanical fault.
Lap 2 Morgan tapped by Neal and the Mercedes drops back behind the Honda and Turkington.
Lap 3 Martin Depper gets his Honda in a slide and collects the BMW of Nick Foster, nothing anyone could have done about that really, both drivers will be out though.
Lap 4 Smith getting some real pressure from the Italian behind him as quite a queue has formed behind the VW.
Lap 5 Shedden is fighting Plato for 7th position.
Lap 6 Lots of drivers seemingly getting a bit restless out there lots of looks and near looks as the laps tick away, Smith still controlling the pace at the front.
Lap 7 Jackson put a move on his team mate and moves up into second, can he do anything about the VW in front of him? Behind Neal gets a small tap from Turkington sending him sideways, Morgan jumps the pair as Turkington passes the Honda.
Lap 8 Collard passes the fading Morgan, Jackson battles with Smith for the lead with 4 former champions fighting for the final podium position just behind.
Lap 10 Turkington all over Giovanardi he wants that 3rd position.
Lap 11 Tordoff passes Collard and joins the battle at the back of the lead pack, I doubt this will be the final finishing positions!
Final Lap Jackson and Smith really fighting for it in the closing stages of the race but in the end it will be a 2nd victory of the season to Aron Smith from Jackson. But behind Giovanardi goes offas does Turkington, Giovanardi loses many spots before spinning on the final corner, Turkington recovers to third ahead of Plato, Shedden, Collard, Tordoff, Morgan, Hynes and Goff your top 10.
Neal recovered from his earlier slide to finish 11th, Giovanardi claimed 13th while Alain Menu and Tom Ingram starting from the back of the pack finished 14th and 17th respectively.
Turkington now holds a 23 point lead over Gordon Shedden who in turn leads Plato by another 20 points before the series heads north and to Knockhill, Scotland where Gordon Shedden will look to local support to boost his title hopes on home soil in 3 weeks time.
Unfortunately again I find myself finishing an article this way but as I’m sure you are all aware, over the weekend former BBC Radio 1 presenter and sometime BTCC driver Mike Smith passes away aged 59. Again all at Carwitter would like to offer our condolences to the family and friends at this difficult time.