There was so much going on in the three British Touring Car Championship races at Thruxton it was hard to know where to look.
The drama began before racing had even got underway as Team BMR took the decision to withdraw all four of its Subaru Levorg machines on safety grounds – the legacy of James Cole’s fuel system-related conflagration at Donington Park.
Tom Ingram claimed his second BTCC pole position on Saturday; Aiden Moffat qualified second, the best showing of his career. Honda’s Matt Neal and MG’s Josh Cook occupied the second row of the grid.
All four were evenly matched at the start and Ingram, Moffat and Neal arrived at the complex together. There wasn’t room for all of them and it was the wiley Neal who came out in front. A touch between Moffat and Ingram allowed Cook and Adam Morgan to nip through into second and third.
Morgan picked his moment to dispatch Cook, out-braking the MG into the chicane. He then set off in hot pursuit of leader Neal – who was hauling 75kg of ballast in his Honda Civic Type R – making his move into the first corner. Moffat pulled off the same move a lap later, but the chance of a first Mercedes one-two was undone by a puncture on lap 10.
Mat Jackson suffered a deflation too, which destroyed much his Ford Focus’s front bodywork. Then a tyre let go on Neal’s car; as he tried to cut into the pits he collected the unsighted Cook, immediately putting both cars out. Gordon Shedden was taken out as well in the ensuing melee, which also involved Jeff Smith and Jake Hill. Many more drivers had extremely close calls.
The officials only option was to red flag the race, calling the results at lap 11. That left Morgan the winner, with Ingram second and Andrew Jordan third. Jeff Smith was fourth ahead of Eurotech team-mate Martin Depper, while Rob Collard – who started 18th – led the BMW trio in sixth.
BTCC Thruxton Race 1 top 10 after 11 laps
- Adam Morgan — WIX Racing/Mercedes A-Class — 14:41.826
- Tom Ingram — Speedworks Motorsport/Toyota Avensis — +3.310
- Andrew Jordan — Motorbase Performance/Ford Focus ST — +3.820
- Jeff Smith — Eurotech Racing/Honda Civic Type R — +5.115
- Martin Depper — Eurotech Racing/Honda Civic Type R — +5.826
- Rob Collard — Team JCT600 w. GardX/BMW 125i M Sport — +6.464
- Sam Tordoff — Team JCT600 w. GardX/BMW 125i M Sport — +6.932
- Jack Goff — Team IHG Rewards Club/BMW 125i M Sport — +8.179
- Dan Welch — Goodstone Racing/Proton Persona — +8.672
- Jake Hill — RCIB Insurance Racing/Toyota Avensis — +8.809
Thruxton is notoriously hard on tyres; add in an unseasonably hot day and they were working overtime, which led to the spate of failures in Race 1. Supplier Dunlop mandated a shortened 12 lap distance for the remaining encounters.
Despite running maximum ballast, Adam Morgan held the lead for much of Race 2. Andrew Jordan beat Tom Ingram off the line to grab second and maintained a watching brief until lap 11 when he showed his hand at the complex and sliced through to the take first.
Rob Collard pounced on Morgan, too, but the Mercedes pilot was able to resist challenges from the following pack, which included Jack Goff, Sam Tordoff and Gordon Shedden, who had scythed through from the back of the grid. He would finish fourth after catching Goff and Tordoff unawares.
Dan Lloyd finished an incredible seventh in only his second ever BTCC race in the Eurotech Honda, while Mat Jackson was eighth ahead of Dan Welch – the Proton driver’s first double top ten – and Rob Austin, taking his best result so far for Handy Motorsport.
BTCC Thruxton Race 2 top 10 after 12 laps
- Andrew Jordan — Motorbase Performance/Ford Focus ST — 15:59.415
- Rob Collard — Team JCT600 w. GardX/BMW 125i M Sport — +0.401
- Adam Morgan — WIX Racing/Mercedes A-Class — +1.791
- Gordon Shedden — Halfords Yuasa Racing/Honda Civic Type R — +1.978
- Jack Goff — Team IHG Rewards Club/BMW 125i M Sport — +2.786
- Sam Tordoff — Team JCT600 w. GardX/BMW 125i M Sport — +3.017
- Dan Lloyd — Eurotech Racing/Honda Civic Type R — +3.483
- Mat Jackson — Motorbase Performance/Ford Focus ST — +6.201
- Dan Welch — Goodstone Racing/Proton Persona — +7.034
- Rob Austin — Handy Motorsport/Toyota Avensis — +7.260
Dan Welch was drawn on pole for the first time for Race 3. Mat Jackson got the holeshot to take the lead, but Welch kept the chasing pack at bay while staying in touch with the leader. Sadly, it only turned out to be a glimpse of what the Welch/Proton combination might be capable after five seasons of development, as the car went off the track and into retirement on lap five after an apparent failure.
While Jackson was relatively comfortable in the lead, the order behind seemed to change every corner. As others fell by the wayside, Jack Goff came out in second, only to be overtaken by Matt Neal. He then became embroiled with Gordon Shedden, the pair running side-by-side round the back on the circuit. But as they reached the chicane, Goff locked up and speared into Shedden; the BMW limped to the finish but the Honda was out.
Neal set about reeling in the slowing Jackson but ran out of laps. Adam Morgan avoided the dramas to complete a podium hat-trick, just ahead of MG duo Josh Cook and Ash Sutton. Robs Collard and Austin were sixth and seventh ahead of Sam Tordoff, while Dan Lloyd completed a stellar debut in ninth. Michael Epps made in three rookie drivers in the top ten.
BTCC Thruxton Race 3 top 10 after 12 laps
- Mat Jackson — Motorbase Performance/Ford Focus ST — 15:54.641
- Matt Neal — Halfords Yuasa Racing/Honda Civic Type R — +0.256
- Adam Morgan — WIX Racing/Mercedes A-Class — +4.568
- Josh Cook — MG RCIB Insurance Racing/MG6 GT — +4.766
- Ash Sutton — MG RCIB Insurance Racing/MG6 GT — +5.006
- Rob Collard — Team JCT600 w. GardX/BMW 125i M Sport — +5.460
- Rob Austin — Handy Motorsport/Toyota Avensis — +6.082
- Sam Tordoff — Team JCT600 w. GardX/BMW 125i M Sport — +6.291
- Dan Lloyd — Eurotech Racing/Honda Civic Type R — +10.533
- Michael Epps — RCIB Insurance Racing/Toyota Avensis — +11.333
Despite only claiming one top ten finish, Matt Neal still holds the championship lead, but is tied on 101 points with Rob Collard. Adam Morgan is just three points in arrears after his triple podium, while Mat Jackson and Gordon Shedden are in close attendance.
It’s always close but, with eight winners from the first nine races, the form book has been torn up at this point. Things could become clearer at the next round at Oulton Park on 5 June, but don’t bet on it.
For more information click here
By Only Motors