BTCC 2017 | Oulton Park – what did we learn?

The thrills and excitement of the British Touring Car Championship headed north for the latest rounds at Oulton Park. Tom Ingram had been on top of the standings for the majority of the season so far, but he didn’t leave as a happy driver after a disastrous weekend. This was the major headline from the weekend’s action, but what else did we learn?

2017 BTCC Oulton Park

Ingram wasn’t the only driver to have a poor weekend, as fellow championship rival, Colin Turkington, hardly had a dream weekend either. Ingram qualified relatively well in 11th, considering the weight, but that meant he was in a dangerous track position as the opening race started around the narrow circuit, and so it proved.

Ingram was collected by Jack Goff and was left on the grass as a result, while the rest of the field filed by. However, later in the race, worse was to happen as his back wheel came loose and he retired accordingly. Like Matt Neal’s rather unexpected 2 pole positions in a row, Ingram suffered two DNFs in a row. Things hardly improved for Ingram in the final race with a spin, although he did pick up a solitary point for his weekend’s efforts with a fastest lap. Where does this leave Ingram’s title chances? Realistically, Ingram would have been delighted to be 3rd in the standings after twelve rounds and he’s still in a great position to challenge for the championship.

Similarly, you can’t write Turkington off, especially with his favourite hunting ground of Croft coming up next. Turkington had suffered from electrical gremlins during Saturday’s qualifying and they appeared to return after he bumped into the back of Aiden Moffat during a great battle at the front. The subsequent problem dropped Turkington to the back of the pack, something he did well to recover in the second race to a low scoring points position, before finishing fifth in the final race of the day.

2017 BTCC Oulton Park

Turkington’s teammates, Andrew Jordan and Rob Collard, had great weekends as BMW continued their good form. Neither finished lower than sixth, with Jordan securing his second victory of the season in the opening race, after getting the better of Neal off the start line. You would expect them to have another high points scoring weekend next time at Croft, a track that generally favours the rear wheel drive cars on the grid.

Having said that, the gaps and differences between the front and rear wheel drive cars seems to be less this season. Last time at Thruxton, for example, the rear wheel drive cars showed great pace and even won two of the three races on a circuit that supposedly favours the power through the front wheels. In contrast, Oulton Park supposedly favours the rear wheel drive cars, yet the Hondas and others proved that the front wheel drive cars more than held their own. For this reason, it will be interesting to see how Croft plays out.

Before Croft, a gentle reminder may be required about driving standards after some dubious manoeuvres over the latest rounds, most notably from Moffat and new championship leader, Gordon Shedden. Of course, Shedden claims his ram raid into the back of Josh Cook was a misjudgement, but he seems to forget that there were constant little nibbles prior to this. ‘Leopards’ and ‘spots’ spring to mind. We should expect better from a multiple champion. Moffat would love to be champion one day, yet with the best will in the world, it’s hard to see how he didn’t try to run Ash Sutton off the road in the first race. The pair played down the incident, but perhaps karma caught up with Moffat as he later ruined his car in the barriers at the same place.

2017 BTCC Oulton Park
Adam Morgan’s Mercedes A-Class proved too hot to handle.

Sutton however, was yet again the pick of the Subaru drivers, as Plato still struggles with a car that has never recovered from the damage suffered at Brands Hatch. With a slight increase in boost, something that also helped the Motorbase Focuses, Sutton once again performed admirably picking up a great haul of points with 3rd, 1st and 4th over the weekend. Some of the race-craft shown by Sutton was outstanding, most notably his acquisition of 3rd in the opening race and his move on Jordan for the lead in the second. Plato can only dream of challenging for race wins at the moment, but he will be pleased with the progress of his car, as he secured three finishes in the lower regions of the points.

Plato will hope the improvement continues at Croft, while Ingram and Turkington will also be hoping to reignite their championship challenges after their difficulties at Oulton Park. ESM will, as ever, attend Croft and will be able to bring you a photo gallery, as well as analysis.

Championship standings after 12 races out of 30:

1. Gordon Shedden 157 points
2. Rob Collard 141
3. Tom Ingram 132
4. Colin Turkington 126
5. Matt Neal 124
6. Ash Sutton 112

Up Next: Croft

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