Young guns made the headlines in the first round of the BTCC at Brands Hatch last weekend, but the old hands came out on top.
Tom Ingram took his and Speedworks’ first ever pole position in the BTCC in a typically busy and rain-affected qualifying session on the Brands Hatch Indy circuit. The margins were so tight that the top 22 runners were separated by less than a second.
Despite being on the damp side of the grid, Ingram was able to capitalise on his position and drive off into the distance, not putting a wheel wrong on the way to a breakthrough win.
It was an action-packed race behind the leader, though, with all sorts of bumping, boring and overtaking. Experienced Honda pair Gordon Shedden and Matt Neal cut a path through to finish second and third ahead of young MG drivers Ash Sutton – making his BTCC debut – and Josh Cook.
The grid for Race 2 is set on the finishing order of Race 1 this year, and Ingram again led the way at the start. But it didn’t last long as he tangled with the fast-starting Rob Collard on the run to Druids, the impact breaking the Toyota’s rear suspension.
That left Shedden and Neal with a clear path to a one-two finish, while Aron Smith battled through from seventh to third in the Volkswagen CC he drove last year, now tended by new outfit BKR. Motorbase duo Andrew Jordan and Mat Jackson rounded out the top five.
BMW man Sam Tordoff was drawn on pole for Race 3 alongside the Mercedes of Adam Morgan. Yorkshireman Tordoff held off a heavy attack from Lancastrian Morgan over the opening lap, but lost out on the run into Paddock Hill on the second tour.
Tordoff and teammate Jack Goff did their best to haul back past the A-Class, but ran out of laps before they could mount a challenge. Jordan was fourth again, ahead of Matt Neal.
Elsewhere, Team BMR had a solid data gathering weekend with the new Subaru Levorg GT, suffering only two retirements and enjoying a best finish of 12th.
Despite not actually winning a race, his run of solid results means Matt Neal leads the championship heading to the next meeting at Donington Park on 17 April.
The weekend also saw the first rounds of the World Touring Car Championship and TCR International series. The WTCC kicked off at Paul Ricard in France where Citroen won the MAC3 time trial event, while Rob Huff won the race in his debut for Honda.
In TCR, running on the support bill of the Bahrain Grand Prix, Pepe Oriola won both races in the Team Craft-Bamboo SEAT.
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By Only Motors