Though there was a mathematical possibility that Colin Turkington might not win the 2014 British Touring Car Championship at Brands Hatch, on the day there was nothing nearest rival Jason Plato could do to stop him
But Plato wasn’t going to go down without a fight. He qualified on pole for Race 1, a whole nine tenths quicker than second-placed teammate Sam Tordoff. Turkington could only manage fourth, behind Gordon Shedden.
On a damp track, Plato made a slow getaway at the start of the race, allowing Tordoff through. But Turkington got the jump on both of them and swept round the outside of the first turn.
Behind them, mayhem broke out as the field streamed through Paddock Hill. Shedden’s car was turned around by Fabrizio Giovanardi; as the field scattered, Rob Austin was left with nowhere to go and smashed into the Honda, heavily damaging it and his own car.
Jack Goff, Alain Menu, Hunter Abbott and Matt Neal got caught up in the melee. Though Neal’s Honda was undamaged by its trip through the gravel trap, the rough ride aggravated his cracked ribs – he was airlifted to hospital for an x-ray but given the all-clear.
As the safety car pulled off the track, the order was Tordoff, Plato and Turkington. Adam Morgan briefly dueled with Mat Jackson over fourth, but lost out. Jackson then set off in pursuit of Turkington and quickly caught the BMW, but the battle cooled after a near-miss.
A second safety car period followed a clash between Nick Foster and Warren Scott that sent the latter clattering into the barriers.
Rob Collard had a fantastic race, coming through from 23rd on the grid to sixth at the finish, though the feisty Giovanardi did his best to arrest Collard’s progress.
Tordoff let Plato through to lead, and the pair finished one-two. But all eyes were on Turkington, who finished third and took the fastest lap, which was just enough for him to claim his second, hugely popular Drivers’ crown. Plato could still draw level on points, but would lose on countback.
Race Two was no less dramatic. Turkington vaulted into the lead at the start, but Menu crashed on the exit of Paddock Hill, bringing out the safety car. At the restart, Plato tagged Turkington’s car, which sent the BMW into the gravel and out of the race.
Jackson capitalised and took the lead on the run up to Druids. But he didn’t even make it round the rest of the lap, running wide and spinning at Hawthorns. As Plato took avoiding action, Collard scooted through into the lead.
He stayed there for several laps, while Morgan snatched second from Plato. But Collard’s soft tyres started to fade, which allowed Morgan through at Paddock Hill. It didn’t last long, though, as he ran wide and Plato took the lead.
Plato crossed the line first, followed by Morgan and Tordoff. But Plato was given a 20-second penalty for his clash with Turkington, which dropped him to 13th. That promoted Morgan to his and the WIX Racing Mercedes’ first BTCC win.
It wasn’t all bad news for MG though, as Tordoff’s podium finish meant the Triple Eight-run team claimed the Manufacturers’ award.
With three strikes on his record, Plato was demoted to the back of the grid for Race 3. Jack Clarke started on pole in the Crabbie’s Racing Ford.
With the rain coming down, BMW driver Nick Foster took the lead at the start, but Clarke retook the position at Graham Hill Bend. Shedden, starting from third, made light work of Foster and set off after Clarke.
Clarke held his own against the 2012 champion, but when the pass came it was relatively easy. Still, the youngster held off a concerted attack from Jackson until the chequered flag.
Plato surged through to seventh at the finish, outgoing champion Andrew Jordan ultimately stymieing his progress. Foster ended up eighth.
The 2014 British Touring Car Championship looked set to be one of the closest of recent times, and so it proved to be. But ultimately it was the best driver in the best car that won the title. As it should be.
The 2015 season will start next April. Until then, we’ll keep you informed of any developments. Already there is talk of the BMW’s being reined in and rumours about Plato’s future, now that his deal with MG has come to an end.
Visit the BTCC website here
BTCC Brands Hatch GP Race 1 top ten finishers
- Jason Plato — MG KX Clubcard Fuel Save MG6 GT — 18 laps
- Sam Tordoff — MG KX Clubcard Fuel Save MG6 GT — +0.900s
- Colin Turkington — eBay Motors BMW 125i M Sport — +1.807s
- Mat Jackson — Airwaves Racing Ford Focus 3 ST — +3.319s
- Adam Morgan — WIX Racing Mercedes A-Class — +3.473s
- Rob Collard — eBay Motors BMW 125i M Sport — +3.692s
- Fabrizio Giovanardi — Airwaves Racing Ford Focus 3 ST — +8.122s
- Tom Ingram — Speedworks Motorsport Toyota Avensis — +8.603s
- Andrew Jordan — Pirtek Racing Honda Civic — +10.557s
- Nick Foster — eBay Motors BMW 125i M Sport — +11.792s
BTCC Brands Hatch GP Race 2 top ten finishers
- Adam Morgan — WIX Racing Mercedes A-Class — 17 laps (+2.281s)
- Sam Tordoff — MG KX Clubcard Fuel Save MG6 GT — +3.501s
- Rob Collard — eBay Motors BMW 125i M Sport — +5.359s
- Andrew Jordan — Pirtek Racing Honda Civic — +5.373s
- Tom Ingram — Speedworks Motorsport Toyota Avensis — +7.590s
- Gordon Shedden — Honda Yuasa Racing Civic Tourer — +9.127s
- Aron Smith — Chrome Edition Restart Racing Volkswagen CC — +9.128s
- Jack Goff — Chrome Edition Restart Racing Volkswagen CC — +14.693s
- Nick Foster — eBay Motors BMW 125i M Sport — +15.921s
- Jack Clarke — Crabbie’s Racing Ford Focus 3 ST — +16.565s
BTCC Brands Hatch GP Race 3 top ten finishers
- Gordon Shedden — Honda Yuasa Racing Civic Tourer — 15 laps
- Jack Clarke — Crabbie’s Racing Ford Focus 3 ST — +3.614s
- Mat Jackson — Airwaves Racing Ford Focus 3 ST — +4.426s
- Sam Tordoff — MG KX Clubcard Fuel Save MG6 GT — +4.758s
- Aron Smith — Chrome Edition Restart Racing Volkswagen CC — +7.083s
- Andrew Jordan — Pirtek Racing Honda Civic — +8.523s
- Jason Plato — MG KX Clubcard Fuel Save MG6 GT — +9.192s
- Nick Foster — eBay Motors BMW 125i M Sport — +14.286s
- Tom Ingram — Speedworks Motorsport Toyota Avensis — +14.947s
- Marc Hynes — Quantel Bifold Racing MG6 GT — +15.405s
Drivers’ Championship: Colin Turkington
Manufacturer-Constructors’ Championship: MG/Triple Eight
Teams’ Championship: eBay Motors (West Surrey Racing)
Independent Drivers’ Championship: Colin Turkington
Independent Teams’ Championship: eBay Motors (West Surrey Racing)
Jack Sears Trophy (awarded to the Independent driver with the most overtakes): Dave Newsham