The title race was blown wide open after a dramatic day of twists and turns in Scotland. Current leader, Colin Turkington, started the day with a huge 30 point lead, but in the end he was grateful to leave Knockhill with a 10 point gap to his nearest rival, Andrew Jordan.All three of Saturday’s sessions were dominated by home favourite, Rory Butcher. On a track with such a short lap, a 0.2 second gap for pole was sizeable, especially considering 22 other cars were within a second of Butcher’s lap. Dan Cammish, third in the standings, lined up second with Jordan third ahead of Tom Chilton, an impressive fifth for Senna Proctor and Turkington in sixth.
Butcher made a superb start to race one to retain his lead as Jordan passed Cammish. However, the race then endured 7 safety car laps after Nic Hamilton was collected by Michael Crees and it took a while to recover his Ford Focus. Chilton was quick to make a move on Cammish after the re-start as the race tried to settle down.
Ash Sutton and Matt Neal, both known for their ‘elbows out’ approach, came to blows as Sutton decided to try a very optimistic move on Neal via the grass. It resulted in two broken cars and a verbal warning for Sutton. Neal was surprisingly calm after the incident, yet if it had been the other way around, we’d have probably seen Sutton’s toys once again.At the front, Butcher was going well, yet Jordan was constantly in hot pursuit of the Scotsman. Cammish was back in third with Turkington, Chilton and Proctor challenging him. However, as Chilton tried to make a move on Turkington, the latter made the most of the racing line and Chilton subsequently lost several places.
That was not the end of the drama though. Starting the final lap, Jordan finally got a run on Butcher and crossed the line in the lead, but he carried too much speed into Duffus Dip and Butcher was able to regain the lead to secure victory in an entertaining race with plenty of close racing action. Race rating: 7.5/10.
Race two was a fairly tame affair, but with potentially huge championship changing consequences. Jordan, once again, made an excellent start to take the lead off the line, while Butcher retained second from Cammish and Turkington.That was until lap 6, when Cammish opened the door at the end of the lap for both himself and Turkington find a way by. Butcher, perhaps feeling aggrieved at losing two places, decided to try and make an immediate amends on Turkington. However, he got it all wrong, smashing into Turkington’s back wheel and sent the championship leader into the gravel trap. Amazingly, Turkington managed to escape, but re-entered the field in 27th.
Turkington could only manage 19thby the end of the race, while nearest rival, Jordan, took his sixth win of the season to close the gap to just four points with Cammish and Butcher completing the podium celebrations. Race rating: 5.5/10.Jake Hill, who was 10thin race two, was drawn on pole by BTCC legend, Alain Menu, for race three. Hill made an excellent start but didn’t have long to get away as the safety car made its first of two appearances in the race on the opening lap, with yet more championship implications. Jordan and Matt Simpson clashed early in the lap which sent Simpson flying into the gravel trap. However, there was instant karma for Jordan as Proctor got the chicane all wrong and spun in the middle of the track. Jordan, trying to take avoiding action, clipped Proctor and beached himself in the gravel trap. After seven safety car laps to recover the cars, it was back to racing.
Adam Morgan, continuing his upturn in form from Thruxton, managed to secure third from Jason Plato, who was struggling to maintain the front runners’ pace on the less favourable medium tyre. Similarly, Tom Ingram was struggling too, although he did find some late pace to secure fifth.The second safety car was needed to recover an unusual sight – Mike Bushell’s missing wheel that became stranded upright in the middle of the track. Luckily, it didn’t take long to push it out of the way.
Turkington spent the majority of the race stuck behind Sutton, but on lap 20 he finally got a better run on Sutton and despite Sutton’s retaliation, he maintained 13thbefore finally finishing 10th.
At the front, Hill controlled the race well and despite a small last lap error, he won his first ever BTCC race and this time the result stood after previously crossing the line first at Oulton Park before being penalised for an incident with Neal. Josh Cook brought his car home in second with Morgan taking third. Race rating: 7/10.The trio of races Knockhill served up were certainly entertaining and the short and narrow nature of the circuit certainly contributed to the action. Throughout the day, there were battles all around the track and up and down the field.
However, the main talking point of the day has to be Turkington losing his sizeable lead at the top of the championship, through no fault of his own. It was a silly move by Butcher and the stewards agreed by endorsing his licence and applying a grid drop. It was a move that was never really on, yet in the heat of battle, rationale isn’t always applied. What it has given us though, is a wide-open championship battle. Not only has it brought Jordan closer to Turkington, Cammish is only one point further adrift in what is now a three-way battle to be champion.
Although Cook is only thirty points behind Turkington, it would seem far fetched to think he could overhaul all three with six races remaining.
Jordan and Cammish certainly have the momentum, but what was impressive about Turkington in the final race was that he was able to actually fight in the mid-pack to grind out positions and points. With Jordan, there are no questions about his fighting abilities, whereas Turkington is always seen as Mr Consistent. If Turkington is to retain and secure his fourth title, he will need all of his skills – consistency and battling qualities.
It could be argued that this season’s Mr Consistent is actually Cammish. Like Turkington last year, he has only won one race, yet he has finished on the podium eleven times. Until Thruxton, it seemed far-fetched that Cammish could win the championship, but with six top six finishes in the last six races, Cammish is without doubt a serious contender.There are question marks about Jordan’s future next year after Piretk’s sponsorship withdrawal and this could genuinely be Jordan’s last attempt at winning a championship. He will give absolutely everything to secure his second title and his heart on his sleeve attitude could either prove his making or downfall.
What we do know, is that we don’t know what’s going to happen and that’s the beauty of the BTCC. At Silverstone, it’s expected that both the BMWs and Hondas will be closely matched so it’s pointless even predicting who will leave the circuit with the championship lead. It’s going to be great fun watching the trials and tribulations though.
Championship standings after 24 of 30 rounds:
|1.||Colin Turkington||268 points|