BTCC 2018 | Thruxton | What did we learn?

The temperatures may have been sizzling, but the action at Thruxton was rather more lukewarm. Looking back, what did ESM’s BTCC Correspondent make of it all?

2018 BTCC Thruxton

The BTCC rolled up at Thruxton for the latest rounds and while the races left a lot to be desired, the championship itself certainly became more intriguing. Adam Morgan now finds himself in new territory as he leads the championship after the weekend’s races.

2018 BTCC Thruxton

Race one: Matt Neal broke his own Thruxton qualifying lap record to secure a first outright pole since this time last year. Colin Turkington qualified second with Brett Smith an impressive third. However, Smith bogged down at the start as Turkington tried his best to take the lead from Neal, but to no avail. An ill Andrew Jordan raced up to fourth, although eventually slipped back to sixth. Championship leader, Tom Ingram, suffered a battery issue and succumbed to his first retirement of the season at the end of lap 5. Other than a late collision between Michael Caine and Tom Boardman, which resulted in Boardman losing a wheel, the race was practically a non-event as Neal won from Turkington and Dan Cammish. Race rating: 4/10

2018 BTCC Thruxton

Race two:Turkington had better luck at the start of the second race as he was able to power by Neal as the lights went out. The opening laps saw Josh Cook charge through the field from ninth on the grid to second by the end of lap 6 after a move on Neal, leaving him a considerable amount of the race left to chase down Turkington. That was something he duly completed and on lap 11, Cook took the race lead and didn’t look back. Meanwhile, a large train of cars had appeared behind Neal, but he held on to claim a second podium of the day. Ingram showed why he was the championship leader coming into the weekend as he moved from the back of the grid to twelfth, albeit with no weight. Race rating: 7/10 (more…)

BTCC 2017 | Thruxton – What did we learn?

The British Touring Car Championship returns this weekend, with the action taking place at Oulton Park. Our BTCC Correspondent recaps what happened last time out at Thruxton.

BTCC 2017 Thruxton

Thruxton may be home to the fastest corner on the BTCC calendar, but the latest rounds won’t be remembered for being a classic. Other than the incidents of a farcical second race, it was, in truth, a fairly processional affair. However, what else did we learn?

First of all, for how many years have we complained about the tyres at Thruxton and, in particular, punctures? This year, there were no major incidents, which ironically meant it perhaps wasn’t as entertaining as we’ve become accustomed to. Whether the tyres will ever be good enough to allow a soft option tyre here remains to be seen, but great credit must go to Dunlop for this season’s tread. A slight change in the compound make-up and width seems to have made all the difference, which is great if the drivers can now concentrate on driving without the worry of punctures.

Another thing we have become used to seeing at Thruxton is front wheel drive cars at the front, especially the Hondas. Saturday’s qualifying and the opening race seemed to continue the form guide as the evergreen duo of Matt Neal and Gordon Shedden in the manufacturer Hondas and Eurotech’s Jack Goff held the top 3 positions. An astonishing point to note is that it was Neal’s first pole in nearly five years. However, from the second race onwards, it was the BMW show – helped by the sunny conditions, which in turn helped their tyres.

BTCC 2017 Thruxton

Wins for Rob Collard and Colin Turkington handed BMW their 100th outright BTCC win. It’s a great achievement by one of the stalwart teams of the series.  Following the BMWs’ performance at Thruxton, supposedly one of their weaker circuits, they must be seriously confident for the rest of the season. Turkington is now less than 20 points behind leader Tom Ingram and must be feeling confident that title number 3 could be on its way if his and BMW’s form continues. (more…)

BTCC 2016 – Thruxton | Reviewed and Rated

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.

BTCC 2016 ThruxtonSaturday’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.

BTCC 2016 Thruxton

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…)

BTCC 2015 – Thruxton | Reviewed and Rated

EngageSportMode’s BTCC Correspondent returns with his take on all the action, or lack of, from Thruxton.

BTCC 2015 - Thruxton 00

A year ago, ESM visited Thruxton for not a particularly enjoyable experience and although ESM weren’t there in person this year, the action hardly set many viewing pulses racing. That’s not to say the racing was bad, it just wasn’t great, as we had three different winners.

Plenty of action happened before the races on Sunday. Infiniti Support Our Paras Racing have ditched Richard Hawken, after just one race meeting at Donington, and replaced him with ex-F1 driver Martin Donnelly. From driver changes to track changes at Thruxton… Following last year’s big smashes at Church involving Simon Belcher and Nick Foster, Thruxton have finally installed more substantial barriers at the corner and luckily they weren’t tested during the BTCC races this season.

However, there were plenty of damaged cars on Saturday. Dan Welch took no part on Sunday due to damage and Hunter Abbott sustained damage too, although he was able to race 24 hours later. Belcher must be wondering what Thruxton has against him, as he was unable to race after a big shunt with Mike Bushell in qualifying. Bushell was left on crutches following a leg injury and although Belcher was fine, his car was not. This meant that the grid started with a mere 25 cars for Race One.

BTCC 2015 - Thruxton 002

None of the races were particularly exciting; yes there were good parts and bad parts, but a fairly average weekend all in all. Aron Smith secured his first ever pole position, but he made an awful start (due to not seeing the lights because of his advertising strip on his windscreen) and the Hondas of Gordon Shedden and Matt Neal powered through and stayed there for the duration. Smith was still having a strong race until the curse of Thruxton punctures struck, meaning he eventually finished 21st. Smith certainly had the pace to win and was showing great race craft with close racing, but it wasn’t to be. (more…)

BTCC 2014 – Thruxton – Round 7, 8, 9 – Review & exclusive photos

If you’ve already read the editorial you’ll know ESM attended Thruxton for the BTCC at the start of the month. Now, here’s our BTCC Correspondent’s full round-up. Forgive him for the delay; he’s had a first-born child to christen.

Jordan On Form As Plato Falters

Jordan celebrates another victory

Jordan celebrates another victory

The latest rounds of the 2014 British Touring Car Championship brought more joy to current champion, Andrew Jordan, with a 1st, 2nd and 4th, but his main challenger going into the weekend, Jason Plato, certainly faltered with a 6th, 7th and a DNF. This meant that at the end of the weekend the pair were separated by 35 points after starting as joint leaders. The weekend provided plenty of high speed action, seen more clearly from the television set than at the circuit itself I have found out, and some notable incidents at the high speed Church corner in particular.

Saturday qualifying saw Jordan put his Pirtek Honda in top spot, which was followed by the Yuasa Honda of Matt Neal, who incredibly hadn’t had a front row start for a year and a half since Croft in 2012. The top 3 was completed by another Honda, of Gordon Shedden, with Mat Jackson, Tom Ingram and Plato completing the top 6. There was an unusually poor qualifying for 2009 champion, Colin Turkington, as he finished 13th.

Race One saw the top 4 get away cleanly from the line, with Rob Collard using his rear wheel drive advantage to climb from 8th to 5th off the start. The opening lap saw the impressive Jackson overtake both Neal and Shedden before he challenged Jordan for the lead coming into the complex. However, despite being a car length ahead, Jordan out-braked Jackson to retain the lead. Race One was seriously low on action, hence the need to mention that Warren Scott and James Cole had an off coming into the complex on lap 3.

2014 BTCC Thruxton AH 170

By lap 7, Jackson’s early momentum had steadied out and he was busy defending from Neal, which only lasted another lap until both Yuasa Racing Hondas found a way past thanks to a good bit of teamwork. The following lap saw Turkington make more progress after his poor qualifying with a fine move around the outside of Adam Morgan for 8th before arriving at Church corner. The only other note from the race worthy to mention, was that in the last couple of laps Collard needed to make his BMW as wide as possible to defend from Plato, something he just managed. Overall, a poor race won by Jordan from Neal, Shedden, Jackson, Collard and Plato.

Luckily Race Two provided a little more entertainment, but again, it was hardly a classic. Jordan and Neal were both cleanly away from the line and another fine Collard start helped him climb up the order. Collard was soon to be 2nd as Shedden out-braked himself trying to jump Jordan.

Jordan leads the way at the start of race two

Jordan leads the way at the start of race two

Lap 2 saw confirmation that Alain Menu had received a drive-through penalty for being out of position on the grid, a shame considering he finished the first race 7th and was running well again. Following his trip through the pits, Menu returned to the track down the grid before finishing a lowly 18th. (more…)

BTCC 2014 at Thruxton – Editor’s View

Last weekend EngageSportMode made its first trip all the way from the North East to Thruxton in the South. After several hundred miles of driving, lots of energy drinks and the requisite sunburn quota, was it all worth it?

Thruxton BTCC 2014 Header

302 miles is the distance from headquarters to Thruxton race circuit in Hampshire. Local to us it certainly is not. As such, this was the UK’s fastest circuit’s one opportunity to impress. Between ESM’s BTCC Correspondent and myself we’ve visited Knockhill, Donington Park, Oulton Park, Rockingham, Goodwood and, of course, Croft. Visiting a new circuit is always exciting, so expectations were high.

Thruxton BTCC 2014 - Tickets

However, Thruxton kicked us in the proverbials from the off with an hour-long wait in traffic to get into the circuit. ESM has been to enough race meetings to know that some queuing is inevitable, with tracks always sited in the middle of nowhere with poor access. But as soon as it became nose-to-tail on the A303 we knew it was going to be a long wait to get into the track. Perhaps more noticeable by its absence was the relative lack of traffic management. Bar one set of traffic lights on a side road, it was otherwise a case of fight it out amongst yourselves. Not a great first impression. Car parking itself was also somewhat amusing, with the need for five people to guide each car into each space.

Anyway, the circuit itself. (more…)

BTCC Round 3 – Thruxton Review

All the latest from ESM’s BTCC Correspondent, with his comprehensive roundup of the action from Thruxton.

Honda’s Dominance Continues.


Honda’s dominance of the 2013 British Touring Car Championship continued at Thruxton last weekend. Honda continued their impressive form from Donington, where they occupied 7 of the 9 podium positions, with 6 of the 9 available at Thruxton. Although it sounds rather dull with Honda performing so well, it was quite the opposite; the weekend produced the best races of the season so far.

Thruxton is notoriously a circuit all about speed and tyre management and this weekend proved to be no different. Due to the high tyre wear, none of the drivers were required to nominate a race to use the white-striped soft tyres this weekend. I think it might have been even more interesting if they had though, I’ve no idea how some of them would have coped!

Race One saw Andrew Jordan on pole, although he got away slowly from the line. The first major incident of the weekend occurred into the first set of corners as the lead train of cars came around and Jason Plato and Gordon Shedden collided. Plato had achieved a better start of the pair and was looking to cement his place when contact occurred. Post-race Shedden was furious and believed that Plato smashed him off the track. I however, completely disagree. TV footage clearly showed Shedden angling his car towards Plato’s and while Jason stood his ground as he was entitled to do, Shedden ended up in the barrier albeit he was able to continue at the back of the grid. (more…)