Wow! Sometimes words cannot do justice to an event and this might be one of those occasions. A cocktail of a short track, the weather and it being the penultimate rounds of the season, with every point being vital, provided racing that was practically incomprehensible at times. It was, by far, some of the most exciting racing witnessed in the British Touring Car Championship in recent times.
Jason Plato took his first pole position since Knockhill in August 2017 and he was joined at the front of the grid by Chris Smiley, Matt Neal, Tom Ingram and Tom Oliphant. Colin Turkington arrived at Silverstone with a 10-point lead over Andrew Jordan and a point more over Dan Cammish. Turkington qualified an impressive 6thwith full ballast, Cammish 7thand Jordan was down in 14th.
In the opening race, Plato made a good start as Neal jumped to second briefly, before a tap from Ingram allowed him through. Smiley made his way back up the order in the opening laps after a poor start and settled in third. At the end of lap 4, a clearly quicker Ingram made a great move on Plato for the lead. Meanwhile, Turkington was heading backwards and for the second meeting in a row he was involved in a potentially title changing incident. He was hit from behind by a mixture of Rob Collard and Adam Morgan and was sent in to a spin. After dropping to 25th, Turkington showed great race craft to battle through to 14thas every point could prove to be vital.
However, his closest rivals both finished ahead of him with Jordan in 8th, although a post-race penalty for a push to pass move on Chilton dropped him to 10th, and Cammish in 11th. At the front, Ingram secured a strong victory from Plato with Smiley completing the podium ahead of his teammate, Josh Cook, in a race full of close racing. Race rating: 7/10.
The start of race two was delayed by a lap to recover Aiden Moffat’s prop shaft that had made its way into the middle of the track during the green flag lap. Ingram got away well and it wasn’t long before the title protagonists were making progress. At the start of lap 6, Jordan was 9thwith Turkington a place behind, but Turkington made a great move on him and followed that up with a series of moves in quick succession, as Jordan tried to follow him through.
Lap 9 was when the day really spiced up. The rain clouds, that had loomed large all day, finally precipitated onto the track. Ingram was caught by Plato within a lap and contact between the pair followed. However, Oliphant also joined in with the contact as he hit Plato, but incredibly Oliphant came out of the battle in the lead with Ingram second and Plato third.
Turkington continued his incredible charge through the field as he took third ahead of Cammish and Plato, who ran wide, in the now very slippery conditions which had cars flying everywhere. As a result, the safety car was needed to recover the gravel trapped Adam Morgan’s Mercedes. Under the safety car, there were arguments about who should be where, with Jordan and Cammish arguing about positions, which even resulted in Cammish making contact with Jordan’s BMW – a move that was seen to not go down well with Jordan post-race.
Despite the road now being seriously wet and the cars being on slick tyres, the race restarted at the end of lap 17 and Ingram, Turkington and Plato soon found a way to pass Oliphant. Cammish made a move on Plato for third, but on lap 20 the red flag was shown as enough was enough in the treacherous conditions. The result was taken from lap 19 meaning that Ingram secured his second victory of the day, Turkington demonstrated a true drive of a champion to take 2ndfrom 14thand Cammish was 3rd. Jordan, meanwhile, finished 8th. Race rating: 9/10.
Ash Sutton was drawn on pole for race three after finishing 11thin the second race of the day. He lined up with Matt Simpson sharing the front row and Mike Bushell was joined by Jordan on row two.
However, the big decision at the start of the race was deciding whether to remain on slicks or go to wets. After the green flag lap, several cars came into the pits to change before the race started – most notably Aiden Moffat and Jack Goff.
Sutton got away well, but Simpson then managed to take the lead briefly before Sutton reclaimed the position. Simpson’s involvement didn’t last much longer though as he was punted off by Jordan. The second lap saw cars swapping places all through the field and it was Cook who came through to lead as Jordan started to go backwards.
Turkington was trying his best to pass Jordan on lap 3 as Cammish moved up to 4thbehind Cook, Bushell and Sutton. However, the safety car was brought out to recover Simpson’s car and cars dived to the pits for a not so Formula One style pit stop, reminiscent of the Super Touring era.
Jordan and Oliphant came in a lap earlier than Turkington, although they were all quite far behind once racing restarted at the end of lap 6. Although Jordan did the fastest first sector on lap 7, he was in 19thand Turkington 21st. Meanwhile Goff and Moffat, who were 10thand 11thon lap 8, and first of the wet tyre cars, were starting to look like serious challengers for the race win, such was their performance on the right tyre. Within a couple of laps, they had moved up to 3rdand 4th and they soon had Cammish and Cook in their sights. Like many cars before them, the duo were no match for Goff and Moffat as they zoomed to the front, while Jordan and Turkington were still down in 15thand 16th.
Meanwhile, Cook and Cammish then became involved in a battle, with Cook suffering broken suspension putting him out of the race. Similarly, Turkington showed that he wasn’t happy to stay behind Jordan and the BMW pair respectfully battled with Turkington coming out on top as the pair moved forward to 12thand 13thwith a few laps remaining.
Turkington was now charging as he tried to maximise the points on offer, while Cammish slipped down the field in the remaining laps. At the front, Goff had a sizeable lead, helped by a spin by Moffat, while cars still were overtaking wherever you looked.
However, there was no catching Goff who brought home his rather steamed up Volkswagen CC for Team HARD’s first ever BTCC win by an impressive 7.3 second margin. Moffat was similarly delighted to secure his first podium in the Infiniti Q50, a car that has never looked like securing a podium. Third went the way of Neal who managed to keep his head down throughout the race. Turkington came home 7th, Jordan 8thand Cammish slipped to 12thby the end of the race. Words simply don’t do justice to this race. Race rating: 10/10.
Silverstone really did produce some amazing racing and yes, of course, it was helped by the weather. Incredibly, despite being seemingly under the most pressure and in the worse position of the three throughout the weekend, Turkington somehow managed to extend his lead in the championship to 16 points ahead of Cammish, with Jordan a point further behind. Cammish seemed to be the biggest loser out of the three because he seemed to be in the best position of them on several occasions, before losing out.
At Knockhill, Turkington had to show his battling qualities to even have a lead coming into Silverstone and, once again, he rolled up his sleeves and demonstrated some fantastic driving to not only still be in the lead, but to extend it. Jordan and Cammish must have felt slightly demoralised on Sunday night to be further behind, but the pair will most certainly be up for the fight at Brands Hatch. Cook holds 4thin the championship and he along with Ingram still have a mathematical chance, but no chance in reality.
Who will win the championship? Who knows! Turkington will be delighted to have a 16 point gap at the front, but after the incidents of Knockhill and Silverstone, he will be wary of something similar happening at Brands, but is that best way to secure the championship? It’s likely he’ll be in the mid-pack because he’ll go into qualifying with full ballast and could well be in danger of an incident. Turkington’s best strategy could be keeping out of danger in race one and hopefully finishing around 10thto lose some weight, before going hell for leather in race two. He’s shown in the last two meetings that he can carve his way through the field. Jordan and Cammish have nothing to lose and will go out all guns blazing.
Imagine if the weather came to the party at Brands Hatch too… the title could be anyone’s.
Championship standings after 27 of 30 rounds:
|1. Colin Turkington||297 points|
|2. Dan Cammish||281|
|3. Andrew Jordan||280|
|4. Josh Cook||263|
|5. Tom Ingram||236|
|6. Rory Butcher||228|