Colin Turkington

BTCC 2017 | Knockhill – What did we learn?

The annual trip to Scotland produced three entertaining races, helped by more incidents of dubious driving standards. The series left Knockhill with a new leader at the top of the standings, but what else did we learn?

2017 BTCC Knockhill

Colin Turkington now leads the way following a hat-trick of thirds from Ash Sutton, while the former leader, Gordon Shedden, sits third and twelve points off top. Saturday’s qualifying saw a Subaru 1-2 with Jason Plato finally producing what we’ve come to expect of him, just ahead of the championship charging Sutton.

Plato duly converted his 50th pole position into a 96th BTCC victory and incredibly his first since the opening race at Knockhill twelve months ago. Although Sutton raced hard, and after a failed switch to try to gain an extra point for leading a lap, this race deservedly belonged to Plato. Their challengers, Turkington and Rob Collard, were a small gap behind the top two, but miles ahead of the rest of the field, which were headed by James Cole, who achieved a career best hat-trick of fifths over the weekend.

2017 BTCC Knockhill

The Subaru dominance continued in the second race, although the drivers switched finishing positions, further enhancing Sutton’s title credentials, while the three behind remained the same as before. The main talking point of the second race came within the first twenty seconds as a large crash, triggered by Andrew Jordan, wiped out several drivers. Jordan out-braked himself which meant he rammed Matt Neal, who in turn went into Senna Proctor who then collected Jordan. A few others had to take evasive action and ended up in the gravel trap, ruining their races too.

It was good to see Jordan admit his mistake afterwards, although it didn’t save him from a hefty fine and penalty points on his licence. Jordan has never shown championship form since winning the title in 2013 and this was a poor mistake. A championship challenge isn’t helped by moving teams each year, but he just doesn’t look as formidable as he was once.

However, the Subarus at Knockhill certainly looked formidable. In the second race, all four were inside the top seven – quite incredible. Just why did they go so well? Sutton’s looked great all season, but the other three have been nowhere to be seen. In Scotland, real wheel drive power was a huge advantage as the top five in the first two races were all powered from the rear. But then, why weren’t the BMWs seriously challenging? This could be down to the Subarus’ boxer engine which allows for a better centre of gravity and on a circuit such as Knockhill, this extra edge could well have been the difference. (more…)

BTCC 2017 | Croft – what did we learn? | Plus, exclusive photos |

Last weekend saw the British Touring Car Championship make the actual trip to the North East. EngageSportMode dispatched our BTCC Correspondent, ably assisted by Uncle Steve, to cover things on the ground as they happened. 

2017 BTCC Croft (C) BTCC

Shedden arrived at Croft leading the championship table (C) BTCC

On Sunday, BTCC fans woke to the worrying news of the injuries suffered by Luke Davenport, Jeff Smith and Aron Taylor-Smith after the horrifying crash in Saturday’s qualifying. With oil on a wet track, they were simply passengers as events unfolded. It has been a worrying time for the series and support races, as a whole, with some serious crashes in recent weeks. It’s strange to write about because this is something that we have not become accustomed to. It also shows the strength of the cars and the general safety of the series that when an event like this happens, we are so shocked, worried and surprised.

Ever since the eleven, or twelve depending on who you believe, car pile-up occurred on Saturday, I’ve been racking my brains to think of the last BTCC driver to suffer broken bones as a result of a crash. Yes, plenty have been hospitalised over the years, but to break a bone? The best I could come up with was Charlie Cox from 1995, but research suggests he suffered severe concussion rather than broken bones. I know Matt Neal drove towards the end of one of the recent seasons with a broken bone in his hand, but that wasn’t a result of a BTCC crash. Either way, the injuries suffered by Taylor-Smith (broken leg), Smith (multiple chest and shoulder injuries in addition to a broken arm) and Davenport (multiple chest injuries, lung damage, broken arm, leg and pelvis) are horrific, but thankfully rare. ESM would obviously like to send all three our best wishes for a speedy recovery.

With the traditional summer break now upon us, there is an outside chance that Taylor-Smith may be fit to race at Snetterton in seven weeks. However, you feel that it could well be the end of the season for Smith and Davenport.

Following the weekend’s action at Croft, the championship is starting to form a clearer picture. Astonishingly, championship leader, Gordon Shedden, suffered his worst result of the season in Race 15, a not so lowly ninth. However, of course he suffered a disqualification at Donington, a race that he had won. Eleven points behind him is Rob Collard who, given his past reputation, has surprisingly scored points in every single race this season and achieved a podium at each track. This new, steady approach from Collard is proving greatly effective and he will be hoping it continues for the rest of the season as he looks to win his first title. Behind Collard, are the two stars of Croft.

Colin Turkington, ‘The King of Croft’, is a point behind Collard and a further eight points behind is Ash Sutton, who is fast becoming ‘The Prince of Croft’. Sutton continued his excellent Oulton Park form by securing pole position in the truncated qualifying session and made an outstanding start to the opening race as the top six got away in order. (more…)

BTCC 2017 | Donington Park – What did we learn?

The first race weekend in the 2017 British Touring Car Championship failed to excite our correspondent. What did he take away from Donington Park?2017 BTCC | Donington Park

After a rather tepid affair at Brands Hatch last time out, the action and drama heated up at Donington Park on a weekend marred by the horrific injuries suffered by Billy Monger in the F4 support race. Apart from learning there was more brilliance shown from the marshals and medical services at the track, what else did we learn?

It is perhaps time to stop referring to Tom Ingram, Aiden Moffat, Jack Goff and Josh Cook et al. as ‘young guns’ and ‘rookies’ despite their age and experience after yet more sterling efforts at Donington. In fact, Ingram leads the championship, as his outstanding displays from Brands Hatch continued. Ingram was naturally helped in achieving this by Gordon Shedden’s failed ride height in the final race where he’d crossed the line first. However, Ingram followed up a strong qualifying with a brace of fifth place finishes and another win. He is deservedly top of the ladder and it is a great achievement for Speedworks and Ingram.

When you consider that Ingram is already 82 points ahead of Jason Plato, you would suggest the he will be, or is, a serious title challenger, but what is happening to Plato? His new teammate, Ash Sutton, has outperformed him so far and achieved two podiums at Donington, and these were achieved after starting at the back in the opening race after his qualifying pole lap was discounted. Rarely has Plato been uncompetitive in his BTCC career, but this season has been quite disastrous so far, albeit six races in and with a DNS. A serious championship contender can perhaps afford one bad event per season, yet alone two when the competition is as tough as this season’s. Although, I didn’t publicly air my predictions for the season, I did fancy Plato in what looked like a strong Subaru last season. Will he win the championship? No.

Similarly, Moffat won’t win the championship either, but we did learn that his consistent improvement over the last couple of years has been finally rewarded with a maiden win. It was a great effort from the Scot and I’m sure that it will be the first of many in what promises to be an excellent career. He seems a genuine chap, who just wants to race and not be bothered by complaining about boost levels and such like as some of the field mix themselves with.

2017 BTCC | Donington Park

The mere sight of rain clouds often causes panic and more debate amongst teams and drivers, yet sheer pandemonium greets the precipitation and it was no different at Donington. Generally, the drivers hate rain and the fans love it because it makes the racing unpredictable and ups the ante of excitement. Race three was no different. Several drivers took the scenic route on the warm up laps and the race was stopped after a lap with cars strewn everywhere, including leader Matt Neal. It was, as a fan, brilliant to watch. It was, as a driver, a nightmare.

Why? These drivers are meant to be the best in Britain, yet some of them are calling for the race to be delayed, stopped and so on. Motorsport is dangerous, we all know that, but if you’re not prepared to play ball, don’t race. Similarly, the F1 drivers have a tantrum at the sight of rain. They are meant to be the best in the world. Yet, their former supremo, Bernie Ecclestone, even pondered the idea of fake rain via sprinklers to liven up the races. As a driver, the spray is obviously horrendous, blinding, but surely in 2017 there must be some technological advances somewhere to ease the problem in one way or another? Admittedly, there were small streams across the track, but again, remind yourself that these are supposedly the best drivers in Britain. Again, do we not have the technology to easy these problems? A lot of questions, I know, but it seems completely stupendous that we have to stop racing because it’s a bit wet. (more…)

BTCC 2017 | Brands Hatch Indy – What did we learn?

British Touring Car Championship fans rejoiced at the weekend as the first of ten Sundays were taken over by the sound of purring engines and screeching tyres. After the first round of action, what have we learnt?

BTCC 2017 | Brands Hatch Indy

With the grid being as strong as ever, it was important that reigning champion Gordon Shedden made a good start at Brands if he wishes to retain the trophy for a third successive season. And he did. Come 6pm on Sunday evening, Shedden was once again top of the pile following a win, second and a seventh. It appears clear at this early stage that his main challengers will be from the BMW trio of Colin Turkington, Rob Collard and Andrew Jordan as well as his teammate, Matt Neal. I would suggest there’s an outside chance of Tom Ingram realistically challenging Shedden too, if he can maintain his opening round form for the season.

Turkington looked like he’d never been away from the BMW 1-series, with which he won the championship in 2014, despite a two year absence with Subaru. His teammates, however, are still ahead of him in the points chart showing how competitive the BMW was at the weekend and will be, again, over the season. Turkington, of course, was not helped by Neal wiping him out off the start line in the opening race.

BTCC 2017 | Brands Hatch Indy

A similar fate ruined Turkington’s former teammate Jason Plato in the second race too. Worryingly for Plato though, he and his teammates’ Subarus never looked competitive all weekend. A few regulation changes to the Subaru Levorg over the close season certainly looked to have ‘worked’, depending on your point of view. They will need to find some solutions quickly if Plato wishes to mount a serious title challenge this time around. (more…)

BTCC 2016 – Snetterton – Reviewed and Rated

After a long break BTCC finally returned this week. There was chaos at Snetterton, and our BTCC Correspondent has got stuck into the big debate about driving standards. Which side of the fence are you on about it?

2016 BTCC Snetterton

Hunter Abbott’s wrecked Chevrolet, following the incident at the start of race three (C) BTCC

The British Touring Car Championship returned at Snetterton following the traditional mid-season six week break and oh boy, it returned alright! Where to start? Three different winners? The first red flag? The second red flag? The camera gantry being rolled into by a flying Hunter Abbott? Drivers complaining about standards? The media complaining about safety?

It would be sensible to remind ourselves at the start of this article that, as Tim Harvey quite rightly pointed out on ITV’s coverage, all tickets state, ‘Motorsport is dangerous.’ Correct, it is. I don’t want to see anyone injured, whether it be minor or serious, nor do I want the unthinkable to happen and a driver be killed or anyone else for that matter. However, we must ask ourselves, why are we fans of the BTCC? Why are we fans of motorsport? We watch it because we want to see close, hard and fair racing. To achieve this, it naturally brings an element of risk and danger and it is something we have to accept if we want to watch motor racing. The debate to be had is how we control this danger. Has it become too dangerous?

Saturday’s qualifying session and Sunday’s first race would suggest not. Qualifying saw Gordon Shedden take pole by the smallest of margins, 0.015s, from Colin Turkington who in turn was the smallest of margins, 0.013s, ahead of Adam Morgan. The gaps were amazingly small on what is the longest lap of the season. In addition to the amazingly close gaps, it was also amazing that it was the first Honda pole in over three years, since Donington Park in 2013.

2016 BTCC Snetterton

(C) BTCC

Race One (1st Turkington, 2nd Shedden, 3rd Jackson)
Turkington got away well from the line, but couldn’t quite take advantage of his start as Shedden retained the lead, but Mat Jackson was able to jump into 3rd. Andrew Jordan’s issues in qualifying were compounded by being pushed out onto the grass at the first corner, but he wasn’t the only one to experience trouble. Morgan was knocked sideways, but retained 5th, Alex Martin went off and Aron Smith picked up a problem to go with his ‘eye-catching’ new livery.

The opening laps saw Turkington keep Shedden honest and Morgan climbed back into 4th. Five drivers, including Turkington, were soon under investigation for a potential false-start, but none were found guilty come the end of the race. Half way through the race, Shedden still needed to be incredibly defensive to stave off Turkington’s attacks, but on lap 8 he could no longer repel the Ulsterman, as he made an outstanding move over several corners flipping from the inside to the outside and back to the inside again. Turkington’s move almost allowed Jackson to overtake Shedden too, but he couldn’t find a way by. Similarly to Turkington, Jason Plato felt as though he’d been held up by Tom Ingram and performed a similar move to his teammate on Ingram to take 5th. (more…)

BTCC 2016 – Croft | Photo Gallery

The British Touring Car Championship made the annual trip to the North East, and ESM’s BTCC Correspondent was on hand as usual. Whilst we wait for the words, he’s sent a selection of photos for us to enjoy first.2016 Croft BTCC

As you’ll probably discover, our BTCC Correspondent made the most of the pit lane walkabout to get up close and personal with the drivers. And their grid girls. But there’s race action in there too, we promise.

(more…)

BTCC 2016 – Oulton Park | Reviewed & Rated

Following a month’s break, the BTCC returned at Oulton Park as the series added another two winners to this season’s races.2016 BTCC Oulton ParkAstonishingly, one of those winners was former double champion Colin Turkington, who drove his Subaru home for a first ever BTCC win for the manufacturer. The win came in only their seventh BTCC race after their withdrawal of all of their cars on safety grounds from the previous three rounds at Thruxton. At the top of the championship, there was also a change of leader as Sam Tordoff now holds a single point advantage.

In the previous three or four seasons at least, Oulton Park has largely seen a procession of cars following each other around with very little action to speak of. Luckily, this season was a little different; nobody had told Rob Collard that you can’t overtake around the Cheshire circuit!

Turkington started Subaru’s unbelievable turnaround in fortunes in qualifying on Saturday with an early blistering lap that none of the other thirty-one drivers could beat. It was to be no fluke for Subaru as Jason Plato backed up his teammate’s new found speed with sixth place. An impressive Dan Lloyd joined Turkington on the front row with Tordoff in third, Tom Ingram fourth and reigning champion, Gordon Shedden, fifth.

Race One (1st Turkington, 2nd Tordoff, 3rd Plato)
The opening race of the day was surprisingly entertaining. Turkington made a clean start and retained his lead as Tordoff and Plato both made up places off the line. Lloyd lost a further place on the next lap as Shedden made one of many moves seen at Island Bend over race day. At the end of lap 5 and beginning of 6, Aiden Moffat and Rob Austin had an amazing side by side battle that lasted for nearly half a lap. Oulton Park is hardly the widest of circuits, but strong and respectful driving from both made great viewing. (more…)

BTCC 2015 – Snetterton | Reviewed and Rated

The British Touring Car Championship returned to action on Sunday, following the mid-season break, at Snetterton and it continued the entertainment seen at Croft in the previous round. Our BTCC Correspondent gives us the low down.

BTCC 2015 Snetterton

Colin Turkington re-ignited his title challenge following a disastrous weekend for Honda’s Gordon Shedden who relinquished top spot to the ever-green Jason Plato. Shedden’s poor weekend started when he qualified in 16th following mechanical issues. Shedden only managed to score 3 points all weekend, and one of those was for fastest lap having pitted in the final race. However, qualifying couldn’t have gone any better for Team BMR and their Volkswagens as they secured a 1-2-3 led by Turkington who was followed home by Aron Smith and Plato. Team BMR were sporting a new livery this weekend following sponsorship from RCIB Insurance and the 4th placed man, Andrew Jordan, also had a different looking, shiny silver, car after securing a long-term sponsorship deal with Pirtek. Matt Neal took 5th and Andy Priaulx took 6th.

The returning Mat Jackson took 14th and James Cole was further down as Motorbase and the Ford Focus returned to the series after missing the first half of the season with sponsorship issues. Support our Paras Racing will be missing a car for the rest of the season after a failed sponsorship deal for Max Coates and they’ve already used up their changes of drivers this season. There was also a return for Robb Holland as he replaced Simon Belcher and there was a BTCC debut for Barry Horne, who replaced Alex Martin following the birth of his first child.

BTCC 2015 Snetterton

Race One saw Turkington get away well from the line as the top drivers stayed in position. Rob Collard was soon in trouble as he was rammed from behind by his teammate Sam Tordoff and he was not the only one to experience early drama, as there were also spins for Rob Austin and Jeff Smith. Turkington looked at ease as early as the fourth lap, the longest lap of the BTCC season incidentally. (more…)

BTCC 2015 – Croft | Reviewed and Rated

With the British Touring Car Championship at ESM’s home circuit, there was never any doubt as to whether we would be in attendance. But, would it be a Sunday to remember, or another snooze-fest like Oulton Park? Our BTCC Correspondent tells the story below:

BTCC 2015 Croft Race One Podium

After Oulton Park, things could only get better for the BTCC and they certainly did at a BMW dominated Croft. There was a win apiece for each of the WSR members and a historic 1-2-3 for the team in the opening race. The championship lead has changed hands following the weekend’s action and Gordon Shedden heads the way into the summer break. However, it was the return of ‘racing’ that meant it was a good day for BTCC fans.

BTCC 2015 Croft

Race One saw the winner from last time out on pole, Sam Tordoff, followed by his teammate Andy Priaulx, Gordon Shedden, Rob Collard, Colin Turkington and Matt Neal. The championship leader going into the weekend, Jason Plato, was down in 12th. Unbelievably, it was the first time since Silverstone 2006 that Plato hadn’t qualified in the top 10. By my rough calculations, that’s about 90 meetings which I find astonishing. However, Plato wasn’t happy with his position and he came up with a cunning plan, within the rules, to set himself up for a better weekend.

2013 Champion Andrew Jordan had a tough weekend

2013 Champion Andrew Jordan had a tough time at Croft

Plato came into the pits at the end of the green flag lap to re-join the race from the pit lane in clear air to set a fast lap for a good grid position in the second race. Another advantage of his plan was that he’d lose his weight as well, leaving him with a good grid positon and no weight. You could say his plan worked as he ended up third for the second race. However, we can, of course, question the morality of it all. Technically, he did nothing wrong, it was within the rules, but do we want drivers doing this every weekend? No, definitely not. As a one off, I think we can just about justify it and hope that Alan Gow can find a way to stop this loophole.

BTCC 2015 Croft

Rob Austin had his best weekend for what seems a very long time.

Race One saw Tordoff get away cleanly as the BMWs roared into the first 3 positions in a race that started under dark clouds. However, on lap 6, Priaulx was able to take the lead from Tordoff with a move up the inside of him at Tower. Priaulx held on for the race win and was followed home by Tordoff and Collard after the latter failed in his bid to get past Tordoff despite good pressure. It was amazing to see an all WSR podium! (more…)

BTCC 2015 – Donington Park | Rated and Reviewed

Although we’ve already discussed ITV’s coverage of the BTCC, our Touring Car Correspondent gives his opinions on whether the races at Donington Park were worth getting so worked up over.
2015 BTCC Donington Park 001
After 5 rounds of the BTCC, I still didn’t have that excitement about the championship that I’ve had in previous seasons. However, in one race that all came flooding back. Race Three was everything you could have possibly ever wanted from a BTCC race. Finally, I have my BTCC excitement back and I can’t wait for the next meeting!

Race One can be quickly disposed of to the back of the BTCC drawer. Not a great deal happened after Jason Plato zoomed through into the lead, ahead of Gordon Shedden and pole sitter Colin Turkington, and he subsequently took a dominant race victory. Shedden and Turkington provided the ‘entertainment’ as they battled for second and that was that. A point of note is that Matt Neal, championship leader, really struggled with the ballast and soft tyres. I guess that is exactly what Alan Gow wants, to make the championship interesting. Hardly fair though. Adam Morgan, in 9th, was the best placed finisher on soft tyres in the opening race. It was cold, but have the rules gone too far in making drivers use the soft tyres three times in races one, two and three?

2015 BTCC Donington Park 003

Race Two saw a fifth different winner in 5 races as Turkington took his first victory of the season in car number 1 and his first victory in a front wheel drive car for a decade. (more…)