After a lengthy summer break the BTCC returns at Oulton Park this weekend. Check out what happened last time out at Brands Hatch
At the end of the previous meeting at Snetterton, the usual championship protagonists had risen to the top three in the standings. With a small crowd once again permitted, would Ash Sutton, Tom Ingram and Colin Turkington continue their form at Brands Hatch?
Qualifying – Dan Rowbottom, Gordon Shedden, Jake Hill, Tom Oliphant, Aiden Moffat and Tom Ingram
Dan Rowbottom secured his first ever BTCC pole position on Saturday with a great lap and a gap of just 0.005s to second. He was, of course, helped by being ballast free. After having pole taken away from him at Snetterton, Gordon Shedden secured second from Jake Hill. As ever, qualifying on the Indy Circuit was incredibly close with 28 of the 29 cars being separated by less than a second on the 48-seconds lap.
Race One, 6/10 – Tom Oliphant, Gordon Shedden, Dan Rowbottom
- A shocking start for Rowbottom saw him block in Shedden and Hill, and, as a result, Oliphant made the most of his good start to take the lead. Within 5 laps, Oliphant had a near 3 second lead over Shedden with Sutton close on his case.
- Rowbottom slowly recovered from his poor start as he made his way up to third, but Aiden Moffat was the cork in the bottle in 4th and once Hill made his way through, so did several others.
- Turkington struggled to recover from a poor qualifying and his mid-pack misery was compounded when a tap from Sam Osborne sent him in to a spin, before eventually finishing 21st.
- At the front, Shedden slowed eroded Oliphant’s gap, but in the end, Oliphant just had enough to take the chequered flag by less than 0.2 of a second.
Race Two, 8/10 – Tom Ingram, Ash Sutton, Tom Oliphant
- This time it was Shedden’s turn to make a poor start, as Oliphant scampered off to create a two second lead at the end of the first lap. However, that didn’t last long as a collision between Shedden and Stephen Jelley caused the latter to be beached in the gravel, resulting in a 6-lap safety car period.
- After a good re-start, it wasn’t long before Oliphant was holding up the cars of Rowbottom, Hill, Ingram and Sutton behind him. Oliphant continued to soak up the pressure and drive his lines for the majority of the race, until Ingram finally found a way by on the penultimate lap to win in successive meetings, after he had earlier passed Rowbottom when he himself was trying for the lead.
- Oliphant came home in third as Sutton beat him in a drag race to the line, but it was still an excellent result with full ballast.
- Sutton’s teammate, Moffat, provided much of the entertainment at the lower end of the top 10, as like Oliphant, he had a decent line of cars behind him squabbling for much of the race.
Race Three, 3.5/10 – Adam Morgan, Jack Goff, Aiden Moffat
- The final race of the day saw a full 12 car switch around following the reverse grid draw, promoting Adam Morgan to pole, Jack Goff to second and Senna Proctor to third.
- Morgan made a good start as Proctor slipped back, while Moffat took 2nd on lap 3. However, Goff eventually reclaimed the position on lap 11 and the top 3 stayed as they were until the end of the race, with Morgan never really looking troubled at the front, although he didn’t cruise away.
- Moffat successfully held off a late charge from Jason Plato, but in truth, it was a relatively uneventful race as Morgan claimed Ciceley Motorsport’s first win in a BMW and Goff Team HARD’s first podium in the Cupra Leon.
It was another successful weekend for Sutton and Ingram at Brands Hatch and duo remain at the top of the standings, but it was a disaster of a weekend for Turkington. Until late in the final race, it looked as though Turkington was going to have his first weekend of not scoring a single point since incredibly back in 2003, albeit he hasn’t competed in every championship in between.
Team BMW nor Turkington could find a solution to fix the car as a poor qualifying by Turkington’s standards was compounded by being tapped into a spin in the first race. Although he made up a few places in the second race, it was nowhere near the standards we expect of him, or the standards he expects of himself, let alone factoring in he was ballast free.
It can’t be argued that a team of WSR’s standards didn’t know what to do either, as they had a winning car in the opening race and nearly so in the second too, had it not been for Ingram’s penultimate lap move. Similarly, the third BMW of Jelley was going well in the second race before his demise after tangling with Shedden, which in turn ruined his race three.
In the gap to Oulton Park, WSR are going to have to strip Turkington’s car back to the very bare bones to try and find the problem as it was something we were simply not used to seeing at Brands Hatch. For Oliphant meanwhile, he stepped up at Brands and showed great determination to score some great championship points that now moves him up to 6th in the championship standings.
Josh Cook moves to third after a solid, but not spectacular, race day with a brace of 5th place finishes a good reward for a weekend’s hard work. Similarly, Sutton was relatively quiet at Brands, but went about his business well scoring three top 8 finishes to keep the points rolling in.
Ingram’s switch to Hyundai is already looking rewarding as he now has two wins under his belt in successive meetings, with the one at Snetterton being the first ever win for the car and team. Ingram is looking formidable again this season, similar to how he was a few years back. Can he go one better and win it this time? It’s hard to tell because of Sutton’s continued presence at the front, but the signs look promising for a great championship battle as the season progresses.
At Oulton Park next time, passing is traditionally a little more difficult and we have seen a few processions over the years, so qualifying will be just as important there as it was at Brands. The close nature of the field was shown in abundance in the latest set of races and will a championship big hitter get caught up next time out? We will have to wait until the end of July to find out.
Championship Standings after 9 rounds:
|1.||Ash Sutton||116 points|