Without doubt, the latest rounds of the British Touring Car Championship from Thruxton proved to be the most entertaining and intriguing of the season so far; crashes, punctures, arguments, withdrawals, shortened race distances, a red flag, it had it all. ESM’s BTCC Correspondent reviews the aftermath.
Saturday’s qualifying session brought the second outright pole in three meetings for Tom Ingram, followed by a stunning effort from Aiden Moffat to take second ahead of a ballast-laden Matt Neal and MG pair Josh Cook and Ashley Sutton.
Race One (1st Morgan, 2nd Ingram, 3rd Jordan)
Quite simply, the best race of the season so far and it’ll take something special to beat this in the remaining races, despite there being plenty still to go. For a first race of the day, it is hard to remember anything as interesting and exciting. It was like a final race of the day.
After the withdrawal of all four Team BMR Subarus on Sunday morning due to safety concerns about their fuel lines, Neal managed to jump Moffat off the line when the lights went out. He immediately pushed Ingram hard into the opening corners, but Moffat soon came back at him around the outside. With Neal down the inside of Ingram at the third corner, Ingram was nudged sideways into Moffat resulting in a half spin that he managed to power around. All of a sudden Neal was leading the race, Josh Cook was challenging Neal and there was a gaggle of cars ready to pounce on any incident from the leaders. And incident there was. Ingram was turned sideways, allowing Adam Morgan through, and then Sutton’s car was turned sideways before heading off into the barriers with what appeared to be a puncture. All this by the end of lap two!
Things had hardly settled down on the third lap as Morgan was able to overtake Cook for 2nd with it being so close at the front. It was astonishing that a fully ballast Neal was driving so aggressively on a track known to be so abrasive, but he was holding his own. That was until the end of the lap, when Morgan was able to get a better exit out of the chicane and overtook Neal on the start-finish line, but Neal didn’t give up. Back he came for almost half a lap, as it bunched up the leaders, resulting in an incredible sight of six abreast around the back of the circuit. This race was anybody’s.
Moffat came back at Neal to reclaim 2nd, but Morgan started to pull away at the front. Following a lap or two’s lull, lap ten brought puncture after puncture in the hot conditions. The first to suffer was Moffat, then Mark Howard and Mat Jackson, whose tyre caused spectacular damage to the front wing of his Ford Focus. However, the punctures continued as Neal was the next victim at the end of the lap, luckily for him, or so it seemed. This didn’t prove to be the case as he couldn’t find a route into the pits as Ingram overtook on his inside, before Cook mounted the rear of Neal, sending them both into spins collecting several cars in the process, most notably Gordon Shedden who ended up spinning into the pit wall. With cars strewn everywhere and concerns over other car’s tyres, the inevitable red flag occurred, allowing Morgan to claim his second victory of the season. (more…)