The BTCC moved to a sunny Donington Park this weekend just gone and saw a slightly expanded grid from what had competed at Brands Hatch a fortnight previous, Welch Motorsports had got over the issues and injuries that plagued the opening weekend and Support Our Para’s racing fielded a Second Infiniti for the first time this season.
Practice was dominated by Jason Plato in the BMR Racing VW CC but it would be team mate and reigning champion Turkington who would grab the pole position for race 1. Gordon Shedden in the Yuasa Honda Civic would line up just ahead of Plato with Adam Morgan’s Wix Racing Mercedes in 4th and Andrew Jordan’s Pirtek 888 MG 5th.
A fantastic showing from the Power Maxed Racing / Help for Heroes squad saw Clio Cup graduate Josh Cook put his Chevrolet Cruze 6th ahead of Matt Neal’s Yuasa Type R Civic. Sam Tordoff was best of the rear wheel drives in his JCT600 Gardx BMW 1M in 8th ahead of the second Mercedes, the Laser Tools entry of Aidan Moffat, Cook’s Power Maxed team mate Dave Newsham’s Chevrolet rounded out the top ten.
Big names further down the pack saw Rob Collard in his JCT600 Gardx BMW 19th while stable mate in the IHG Rewards BMW was down in 23rd. Join series leader Jack Goff would line up in 13th in his Triple 8 MG6 who also picked up 2 penalty points for a collision with the Exocet Alcosense racing Audi of Hunter Abbot during FP1.
Jason Plato took an almost lights to flag victory after disposing of both Turkington and Shedden in the early laps dominating in a bid to get a title challenge back on track following Brands Hatch’s disappointments, Shedden would end up second after a good battle with Turkington for the podium places, just behind though was where the action really was, Jordan and Morgan battling hard the Mercedes pilot opting to run the Dunlop soft compound in race 1.
Neal also took the option rubber in the opening round but couldn’t hold on as well as Morgan, the Mercedes finishing 9th while Neal’s Honda arrived at the flag in 16th place and out of the points. In between all of this the youngsters were upsetting the old guard with Goff, Cook and Tordoff all getting stuck into the more experienced Collard and Newsham.
At the flag Plato led home Shedden – who would take the fastest lap and pole position for the second race, Turkington, Jordan, Tordoff, Newsham, Goff, Collard, Morgan and Rob Austin in the other Exocet Alcosense A4 Audi.
Turkington would line up alongside the Honda of Shedden for race 2 while Morgan had made the soft tyres work for long enough to post 3rd fastest time in race 1 ahead of the victor, Plato. The two MGs were up next each wearing soft rubber Jordan ahead of Goff while Neal would start 7th but light having lost the ballast carried in race 1, with Collard Newsham and Moffat filling the top ten.
Turkington led away and drove to a first victory for his new team and in doing so earned a second of the day for BMR racing and became the 5th different winner in 5 rounds, but it was a different story behind. Following a short safety car interlude after Alex Martin in the Team Parker Dextra Racing Ford Focus collected Warren Scott’s BMR VW at the old hairpin.
Following the restart, behind Turkington, Goff on the soft tyres was battling hard with Neal, Morgan, Collard and Plato, while Shedden tried to hold onto Turkington in front before his soft tyres dropped off leaving the 2012 champion 14th at the flag.
It was then down to Shedden’s team mate to fight for the big points with several other as the race for second position heated up, with Neal, Morgan and Jordan battling hard but fair as paint was traded, this allowed Collard to join the fun reaching 3rd briefly as Jordan caught a huge slide without losing too much time as the laps ran down.
Neal would win the battle for second eventually with Morgan filling the podium from Jordan, Plato, and Collard, a fantastic result for Josh Cook in 7th ahead of Goff who pipped Tordoff by a fraction for 8th and Priaulx in 10th.
The reverse grid was kind to the rookie with Josh Cook taking the pole ahead of Collard Plato and the rest.
Collard got the jump on the Chevy of Cook but this was not to be another run to the flag as the race 3 reverse grid did what it was designed to do. Cook soon passed the BMW for the lead as the more established names battled towards the front of the pack.
Once again the safety car made an appearance following an incident at the chicane involving Goff and Tordoff, the former being forced into his first retirement of the season and with that the first time he would fail to finish in the top ten in 2015.
After the safety car had disappeared the big news was that Aron Smith had moved up and was knocking on the door of the podium having suffered earlier in the day with a non start in race 1 and 12th place in race 2 from the back of the field.
Smith was soon passed the heavier, soft shod BMW and into second place, cruising towards the Cruze ahead.
A huge moment for the pair going through the Craner Curves saw the two leaders cross the grass after the smallest of contact and rejoin in the middle of the (now) lead battle between Neal, Jordan, Collard and Shedden with Morgan not far behind, how no one collided is a small miracle. Motor racing is exciting but also very dangerous.
Collard fought back to the front again with Neal, Jordan and Shedden chasing just ahead of Cook, Smith and Morgan, before the soft tyres on the BMW faded handing the lead to Neal with Jordan now chasing looking to become 2015s 6th winner in 6.
Behind the lead battles Aiden Moffat has made his way up to the sharp end as the race nears conclusion although Newsham’s Chevrolet off at the chicane meant that there would be no last corner lunge for the race victory and Neal took his second victory of 2015 ahead of Jordan, Shedden, Collard, Moffat, Morgan, Smith, Cook and Plato with Martin Depper in his Eurotech Racing Civic 9th and Tom Ingram in the Speedworks Toyota Avensis in tenth.
Matt Neal still leads the championship now by 2 points from Turkington with Shedden, Jordan and Plato all in contention and joint leader at the start of the weekend Jack Goff in 6th.
Thruxton is up next and we cannot wait.