The West Surrey Racing BMWs took a clean sweep of wins in three frantic BTCC at Croft at the weekend.
Sam Tordoff started from pole in the JCT600 Racing 125i M Sport and held the lead through the opening stages of the race. He opened a gap of eight-tenths of a second to Andy Priaulx, but a brief shower closed the gap and Priaulx nipped through to the lead.
When the rain stopped, the front-runners settled into position, a BMW 1-2-3 with Rob Collard bringing up the rear. Collard had work to do late on, fending off Gordon Shedden’s Honda as his soft tyres lost performance.
A lively battle for fifth saw Rob Austin and Colin Turkington squabble early on before their tyres faded. That allowed both Matt Neal and Andrew Jordan through to claim fifth and sixth at the flag.
Priaulx held on to take victory, his first in the series since his last full season in 2002, reinforcing that he remains one of the best touring car racers in the world, despite some struggles so far this year. He said: “So far this year we haven’t converted our pace into results, but it’s so good to be back to winning ways. I’m still learning every weekend but we’ve broken the duck now so we’ll keep pushing on.”
Jason Plato gambled on starting from the pitlane on soft tyres. After qualifying 12th, he hoped the move would give him clear air to set a fast lap early on and snatch pole. It sort of worked, Plato putting the Team BMR VW third for Race 2.
But it was Tordoff again who secured pole for the second encounter, the Yorkshireman absolutely flying around his home circuit. He scampered away from the start and never had to look over his shoulder for the duration.
Priaulx meanwhile, starting from second, found himself embroiled with the VWs of Plato and Turkington who muscled through before the BMWs tyres were up to temperature. Priaulx stuck with the Team BMR pair for the rest of the race but to avail.
Again, the battle for fifth proved highly entertaining as four cars disputed the position. Collard led Shedden until the latter got his Honda’s nose just in front. But the pair touched, putting Shedden sideways at well over 100mph. Fortunately the former champion’s epic car control averted a huge crash. And he still claimed the position.
As Shedden and Collard fought, Rob Austin and Tom Ingram closed up. Austin got within striking distance, but a yellow flag at the first corner effectively neutralised the fight. Austin did what he could on the last lap, the result coming down to a drag race out of the final hairpin. But Collard got the better slingshot and crossed the line just 0.15 seconds in front.
Collard was drawn on pole of the reverse-grid third race of the day. But it was Shedden who held the lead for much of the race, Collard biding his time until the Honda’s soft tyres stopped working. He got his chance on lap 12, taking the inside line for the chicane.
Shedden took to the grass in avoidance which put him in touch with Priaulx, the duo battling hard until the finish.
Turkington and Plato had a comparatively quiet race to fourth and fifth, though Tordoff was close behind after fighting back to sixth. the VW’s were joined in the top ten by team boss Warren Scott, scoring the best result of his BTCC career.
Speaking after the race, Collard said: “This is such a great team and an amazing group of people, so to score three wins in a day is just incredible. They work so hard to produce such a good car and we can’t always show that, but today is for all the work everyone at WSR has put in.”
Elsewhere, Nic Hamilton enjoyed a promising debut the AMD Tuning Audi S3. Cerebral palsy sufferer Nic, brother reigning Formula One champion Lewis, finished all three races, making up places from his start position.
His run of strong results means Shedden leads the championship by 10 points from Plato. Neal holds onto to third despite a low-scoring weekend, while Tordoff’s victory moves him up to fourth.
The BTCC takes a six-week holiday now until the next round at Snetterton on August 9.
Race 1 top ten after 15 laps
- Andy Priaulx — Team IHG Rewards Club/BMW 125i M Sport — 21:32.210
- Sam Tordoff — JCT600 Racing with GardX/BMW 125i M Sport — +0.764
- Rob Collard — JCT600 Racing with GardX/BMW 125i M Sport — +5.770
- Gordon Shedden — Honda Yuasa Racing/Honda Civic Type R — +10.031
- Matt Neal — Honda Yuasa Racing/Honda Civic Type R — +21.250
- Andrew Jordan — MG Pirtek Racing/MG6 GT — +21.730
- Colin Turkington — Team BMR/Volkswagen CC — +23.344
- Tom Ingram — Speedworks Motorsport/Toyota Avensis — +23.617
- Adam Morgan — WIX Racing/Mercedes A-Class — +29.403
- Jack Goff — MG 5 Cases Racing/MG6 GT — +34.136
Race 2 top ten after 15 laps
- Sam Tordoff — JCT600 Racing with GardX/BMW 125i M Sport — 21:48.128
- Jason Plato — Team BMR/Volkswagen CC — +2.368
- Colin Turkington — Team BMR/Volkswagen CC — +2.936
- Andy Priaulx — Team IHG Rewards Club/BMW 125i M Sport — +3.548
- Gordon Shedden — Honda Yuasa Racing/Honda Civic Type R — +8.023
- Rob Collard — JCT600 Racing with GardX/BMW 125i M Sport — +8.404
- Rob Austin — Exocet AlcoSense/Audi A4 — +8.558
- Tom Ingram — Speedworks Motorsport/Toyota Avensis — +13.384
- Adam Morgan — WIX Racing/Mercedes A-Class — +14.725
- Jack Goff — MG 5 Cases Racing/MG6 GT — +15.620
Race 3 top ten after 15 laps
- Rob Collard — JCT600 Racing with GardX/BMW 125i M Sport — 21:45.389
- Andy Priaulx — Team IHG Rewards Club/BMW 125i M Sport — +7.249
- Gordon Shedden — Honda Yuasa Racing/Honda Civic Type R — +7.973
- Colin Turkington — Team BMR/Volkswagen CC — +10.585
- Jason Plato — Team BMR/Volkswagen CC — +11.551
- Sam Tordoff — JCT600 Racing with GardX/BMW 125i M Sport — +11.732
- Tom Ingram — Speedworks Motorsport/Toyota Avensis — +13.641
- Jack Goff — MG 5 Cases Racing/MG6 GT — +15.313
- Matt Neal — Honda Yuasa Racing/Honda Civic Type R — +17.568
- Warren Scott — Team BMR/Volkswagen CC — +22.364
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By Only Motors