Trio of New 2014 Winners at Knockhill!
The British Touring Cars made their annual trip north of the border to Knockhill on August Bank Holiday weekend. There were several strong performances from the drivers and teams, as three drivers won for the first time this season. It was also the first time since soft tyres were introduced, that all three races were won by cars using them.
Championship leader, Colin Turkington, set the fastest time in qualifying but lined up 9th following a grid penalty from Snetterton. Turkington’s teammate, Rob Collard, lined up at the back of the grid, again due to misdemeanours. It meant that Sam Tordoff took pole, from an impressive performance from Sherman and Rob Austin, Andrew Jordan, Gordon Shedden, Matt Neal and Jason Plato. There was BTCC-best qualifying for Glynn Geddie in 10th and Hunter Abbott in 11th.
Race One started slowly, as the front-runners stayed in position off the start line although Turkington did manage to get ahead of Nick Foster for 8th. On lap 4, Shedden managed to pass Jordan at the Hairpin after running closely behind him for a few laps. Lap 7 brought the first major incident of the day as Dan Welch launched into the side of Robb Holland off the curbs, damaging his front wheel and suspension. Welch later received a warning for his part in the incident.
On lap 10, the front four of Tordoff, Austin, Shedden and Jordan were running closely together and Neal was not far behind either as the race started to spice up. Turkington was trying to catch up to the leaders and tried a daring move around the outside of Mat Jackson which looked as though it had stuck, but Jackson was able to fight back. The following lap, smoke was becoming more and more visible from the lead car of Tordoff as his left front was catching bodywork, but this didn’t seem to be slowing him down. Behind however, Austin was tagged by Shedden and this sent hurtling towards the grass, but he managed to recover quickly to come back on the track in 5th. Another man sent into a spin was Geddie at the Hairpin, as Foster went up the inside and turned him around. Foster received a warning for his actions.
Lap 14 saw Jordan get ahead of Shedden after the start finish straight, but Jordan just tagged the back of Shedden that sent him into a spin and he careered backwards catching Jordan at the next corner. Jordan suffered broken suspension, while Shedden was able to continue, albeit a few places down. Lap 15 saw Turkington finally make his move stick on Jackson for 6th and it took Turkington a few laps to get ahead of Plato, who had a huge train of cars behind him. However, in getting ahead of Plato, Turkington ran deep into the first corner, which meant that Plato and Jackson caught up with him at the next corner and it was there that Turkington found himself being punted off into the gravel by Plato who had Jackson up his inside.
Turkington’s car was beached in the gravel and that resulted in a safety car period. While all the action was happening behind the leaders, they were also changing position as Neal was now first and Tordoff second. However, Tordoff didn’t stay there for long as under the safety car he pulled off the track with what appeared to be an electrical issue as he managed to get going again, but a long way down the pack. The final laps saw Shedden defending from Mat Jackson and Abbott off at the Hairpin, but winning for the first time this season was Neal from Austin who was 0.2s behind, Shedden, Jackson, Plato and Adam Morgan.
Race Two had a dramatic opening as Austin managed to get around the outside of Neal for the lead, but he ran wide at turn one, which let Neal and Shedden back through although Shedden was then turned around by Austin. Shedden was left facing the wrong way, but he was lucky in being able to continue. However, one man who was finished for the weekend at the same corner was Warren Scott. He was tagged by Marc Hynes and it sent him flying backwards into his teammate Jack Goff and it left him with a severely damaged rear end. The safety car was called for, but Scott managed to limp back to the pits.
The safety car quickly returned to the pits with the order being Neal, Jackson, Plato, Austin, Morgan and Dave Newsham. However, the lead was soon to be Jackson’s as Neal was hit with a drive through penalty for a jump-start – probably the correct decision. Lap 7 saw Turkington gain two further places to be 11th ahead of Jack Clarke and Alain Menu as he continued his charge through the field. Lap 10 saw Neal, who was now well down the field, make contact with the back of Martin Depper and it was enough to send his Honda Civic into the tyre barriers with a hefty bump. Depper’s car was enough off the track so no further safety car period was required.
At the front, Austin was catching Plato for 2nd and Foster let Turkington through to attack Giovanardi which he successfully managed to make it 9th for the Ulsterman. Lap 20 saw Turkington make an almost carbon copy move on Tom Ingram as teammate Collard at the Hairpin, although Turkington got his move finished quicker than Collard to take 6th. Morgan was running well in 4th, but that was soon to be 6th, as Turkington, who was now ahead of Collard, made a good move on the start finish straight and was followed through by Collard.
Within metres of the finish, Aron Smith was fired head-on into the tyre barriers after contact with Foster. The duo came out of the Hairpin level and it appeared from replays that Foster stayed on his line and it was Smith that moved across on him and caused his own incident, although he would disagree I’m sure. Smith’s former teammate, Jackson, comfortably won the race from Plato, Austin, Turkington, Collard and Morgan. It was great to see Jackson on the top step of the podium again and it was also a great drive from Turkington to move from 27th on the grid to 4th. I think the brilliance of his drive was highlighted by the fact that other drivers, notably Shedden, Neal and Jordan found coming through the field much more difficult.
Foster performed the reverse grid draw for Race Three as a result of finishing 10th and he pulled himself out of the bowl to give a top six grid of Foster, Giovanardi, Newsham, Ingram, Morgan and Collard. The opening lap saw Foster get away from the line well and Collard made it up to 3rd with a good move on Newsham. The following lap, Collard made it 2nd when Giovanardi left a huge gap at the Hairpin and subsequently let him through. Giovanardi hadn’t learnt his lesson, when on the next lap he left another huge gap and this time Newsham and Ingram powered through. Lap 6 saw Turkington take Giovanardi too, but he ran wide which allowed the predatory Morgan to nip past them both.
Lap 8 saw some significant position changes as Collard found a way past Foster for the lead and he was soon to be 4th after Newsham and Ingram also bundled their way through, while Turkington past Morgan for 5th. If lap 8 is to be remembered for overtaking, lap 10 will be remembered for contact, as first Giovanardi was sent flying up on to two wheels by Neal and he just managed to hold on to the car and then Plato smacked into Austin at the Hairpin. Austin wasn’t as lucky as Giovanardi and he had to retire with suspension damage. The incident will be investigated at Rockingham.
Lap 11 saw Turkington get past a helpful Foster and a couple of laps later they both overtook Ingram. Things were to get worse for Ingram on lap 15, as Morgan completed a move at the Hairpin, but it also allowed Jordan and Shedden through as well. Towards the end of the race, it mainly petered out although 2nd placed Newsham had a lot of pressure from Turkington, who was also under pressure from Foster. In the end, Collard took his first victory for two years, from a best ever result for AMD in 2nd with Newsham and Turkington, Foster, Jordan and Shedden completed the top six.
The weekend once again proved to be successful for the BTCC as it showed that anyone is capable of winning a race and that even if you have one bad race, you can still have a good weekend like Collard who started the first race 31st and ended up winning the final race of the day. In addition, there were some great overtaking manoeuvres and of course plenty of contact to make it interesting! Championship wise, it’s pretty much as it was as Turkington still has a 23 point cushion at the top from Shedden, although Plato has closed the gap to 39 points and he remains just in contention with three rounds left. However, with 9 races to go, anything can still happen and Turkington only needs a couple of DNFs to completely change the championship around.
Championship Standings after Round 21 of 30:
Jack Sears Trophy – Given to the driver who gains the most places over the season.
||86 places gained|
Pirtek Racing – Honda Civic
Jordan would have hoped for a better weekend than a retirement, 11th and 5th but his hopes of retaining the championship are realistically over. Depper remains on just 9 points for the season.
Honda Yuasa Racing – Honda Civic Tourer
Neal played the team game this weekend whilst getting his first win of the season. Shedden would have hoped to close the gap to Turkington more after he didn’t finish the first race. I think both Shedden and Neal are lucky not to have received any warnings following some of their race contact this weekend.
MG KX Clubcard Fuel Save / Triple Eight Engineering – MG6 GT
A reasonable weekend for MG and I’m sure they would have had a race win if Tordoff hadn’t suffered an electrical issue. Their results didn’t quite match their performance this weekend.
Quantel Bifold Racing / Triple Eight Engineering – MG6 GT
Added one more point to his total. Hynes received his 3rd warning of the season so he was sent to the back of the grid for Race Three.
eBay Motors – BMW 125i M Sport
Another great weekend for the team overall. All of the drivers will be pleased with their performances.
Airwaves Racing / Motorbase – Ford Focus ST MKIII
Another good weekend for Jackson who won his first race of the season and Giovanardi wasn’t quite there.
Crabbie’s Racing / Motorbase – Ford Focus ST MKIII
The first time this season he’s had 2 points finishes in a weekend.
CHROME Edition Restart Racing – Volkswagen CC
The highest finish any of the drivers this weekend was 9th with Smith. Scott’s weekend was ruined by contact in Race Two and Goff and Menu weren’t really in the action.
Handy Motorsport – Toyota Avensis
3 more race finishes for Simon Belcher this weekend, but no points.
STP Racing with Sopp & Sopp – Proton Persona
2 retirements in the first race, a retirement and DNS for the second race and 2 DNS for the final race. Pretty grim.
Laser Tools Racing / RML – Chevrolet Cruze
3 more finishes for the young Scotsman.
AmD Tuning.com – Ford Focus ST MKIII
Great result for Dave Newsham in Race Three along with a 9th and 8th. Can the team continue this pace at Rockingham?
United Autosports – Toyota Avensis
Fantastic qualifying from Geddie, but two 20ths and a 19th aren’t great results. Cole’s best was 22nd in the final race.
Power Maxed Racing – Chevrolet Cruze
22nd, ret, 25th.
WIX Racing – Mercedes-Benz A-Class
Morgan followed up his great weekend at Snetterton with another strong performance at Knockhill. The A-Class is really starting to show what it’s made of.
Houseman Racing – Toyota Avensis
Not Lea Wood’s finest weekend.
AlcoSense Breathalysers Racing / Rob Austin Racing – Audi A4
Fantastic qualifying from Hunter Abbott, but he finished all the races just outside the points.
Exocet Racing / Rob Austin Racing – Audi A4
Great weekend for Rob Austin! He really seems to go well at Knockhill and it was a shame he was taken out in the last race of the day. Can he win again at Rockingham like last year?
Rotek Racing – Audi S3 Saloon
Robb Holland’s slowly improving, although he was taken out in Race One.
Speedworks Motorsport – Toyota Avensis
Best weekend so far for Ingram with two 7ths and a 9th. It could have been better too.
Next up: Rockingham, 7th September.