BTCC is back, and EngageSportMode’s dedicated correspondent has also returned to action. Here’s his rundown of who shined and who flopped on the first weekend of racing.
Six newcomers, various driver changes, a new manufacturer and a major regulation change and the British Touring Car Championship was ready for action in 2016. Once again, the series started at Brands Hatch on the Indy Circuit, which I’ve been less than complimentary about in the past. However, this year was certainly an improvement on the previous snooze-fests we’ve had to endure.
Race One (1st – Ingram, 2nd – Shedden, 3rd – Neal)
Tom Ingram secured pole on Saturday for the first time and made no mistake in the opening race of the day with a lights to flag victory, despite a safety car to recover Alex Martin’s heavily damaged car after taking action to avoid a spinning Hunter Abbott. The mid-race battle for fourth between several cars was certainly entertaining, finally culminating in Ash Sutton emerging as victor ahead of teammate Josh Cook and Rob Collard, who had earlier collided with his teammate, Sam Tordoff. Being a fly on the wall in the WSR garage post-race sounded like the place to be if you believe ITV’s coverage. The opening race of the season was less conservative than normal and brought a new team and driver to the top step of the podium.
Race Two (Shedden, Neal, A Smith) A formidable Honda 1-2 for Gordon Shedden and Matt Neal come the end of the race looks ominous for the rest of the season, as they were rarely troubled and looked in cruise control after the second lap. After scrapping the fastest-lap starting grid used last season, and reverting back to the first race finishing positions, Ingram made another good start as he retained the lead. A fast-starting Collard raced through into second and closed in on Ingram on the second lap. However, as Collard pulled a move down Ingram’s inside, contact took place, sending Collard into a spin and leaving Ingram with damaged suspension. Perhaps a bit more could have been given and taken on both sides. Motorbase duo Andrew Jordan and Mat Jackson worked well together, taking several positions working in tandem. It’ll be interesting to see how they progress over the season. The end of the race was spiced-up by several cars going off the track, some twice, after fluid on the track, but this didn’t stop the Hondas coming through convincingly. (more…)