Ingram, Shedden and Morgan triumphed in the BTCC season-opener at Brands Hatch
The opening round of the 2016 British Touring Car Championship, held at Brands Hatch Indy circuit, fulfilled all the expectations of motorsports fans in Britain and all over the world. 32-car grid guaranteed at least a traffic jam at Brands Hatch but we saw three action-packed races with three different winners.
Tom Ingram (Speedworks Motorsport) secured his maiden BTCC pole position on Saturday and converted it into his maiden BTCC victory in Sunday’s first race. He started from pole again in the Race 2 but had to retire with a damaged car, so defending champion Gordon Shedden (Halford Yuasa Racing) took his first season’s win. Adam Morgan (WIX Racing) wins Race 3 after he overtook poleman Sam Tordoff.
Maiden pole and maiden win for Tom Ingram
22-year-old Tom Ingram showed the impressive performance in the first race with Speedworks Motorsport’s Toyota Avensis. He started from pole and remained in front until the end of the race. He didn’t give a chance for attacking him to the closest rivals Gordon Shedden and Matt Neal, so the Honda duo took the 2nd and 3rd place respectively. The leading trio steadily runs in front of the field but behind their back, there were plenty of action.
The bumper-to-bumper action from the opening lap resulted in many incidents, off-road excursions and one major crash on Lap 3. Power Maxed Racing’s Hunter Abbott lost control of his Chevrolet Cruze through the Surtees bend, and Alex Martin spun trying to avoid contact. Martin’s Ford Focus missed Abbott but went off the road and hit the barrier. A short safety car intervention followed.
The action continued after re-start with few more incidents. After all, MG’s drivers Ashley Sutton and Josh Cook finished fourth and fifth. Rob Collard‘s BMW finished sixth, ahead of Aron Smith in the BKR’s Volkswagen CC. Mat Jackson (Motorbase Performance) crossed the finish line eighth in the order, ahead of Adam Morgan and Jack Goff. Team BMR’s Subaru had a difficult BTCC debut at Brands Hatch. Team boss Warren Scott didn’t even started, remaining three drivers Colin Turkington, Jason Plato and James Cole were far down the order.
Shedden took the win after Ingram and Collard dropped out
Starting order for Race 2 was determined by the positions in Race 1, not by fastest lap times as before, so Tom Ingram was again the first man on the grid. He started the race as a leader but not for long, because Rob Collard had a fantastic start from sixth to second place and he immediately attacked Ingram. They touched few times and Collard’s BMW spun at Druids. Ingram remained on the track but he had to retire because Toyota was damaged too much.
Gordon Shedden and Matt Neal inherited from that situation and took a 1-2 victory for the Halfords Yuasa Racing. Aron Smith showed that BKR’s Volkswagen CC is a podium-worthy car and he overtook Josh Cook for third. The next were Andrew Jordan, Mat Jackson and Ashley Sutton, who also passed Cook. Cook later went off onto the grass and felt far down in the order. The rookie Ashley Sutton showed once more that he can fight against the best and finished sixth. Jack Goff, Adam Morgan, Sam Tordoff and Jeff Smith rounded the Top 10.
Morgan stole the victory from Tordoff
Sam Tordoff was the happiest man after the ‘grid lottery’ for the reversed grid in the Race 3. He started from pole position and held the lead until the end of the opening lap. In a drag race through the start-finish straight, the WIX Racing’s Mercedes A-Class of Adam Morgan was faster and Morgan took the lead.
On lap 2 the safety car was deployed after Fletcher and Howard stuck in a gravel. Mat Jackson was third but he had to pit during the SC period because of a flat tire, which was the consequence of the slight first-lap touch of his teammate Andrew Jordan. With Jackson in the pits, Jack Goff was promoted to third.
After the re-start there were no changes on the top, so Adam Morgan took the win ahead two BMW drivers Tordoff and Goff. Behind them Andrew Jordan and Matt Neal fought for fourth place, Jordan was more successful. Rob Collard progressed from 16th on the start to 6th at the end. Jeff Smith, Aron Smith, Aiden Moffat and Ashley Sutton completed the Top 10.
Gordon Shedden had a puncture on Lap 21 and he went off to the barrier. Colin Turkington finished 12th in Race 3 and it was the best weekend’s result for Team BMR Subaru. Jason Plato took few points earlier with 13th place in Race 2.
Matt Neal is the championship leader
Matt Neal is the championship leader after three races. Although he didn’t win, three top 5 finishes earned him enough points to take the lead. He collected 42 points, four more than Shedden and five more than Adam Morgan. Aron Smith and Andrew Jordan completed the top 5 with 32 points each. In the manufacturers/constructors standings Honda/Team Dynamics lead ahead BMW/West Surrey Racing. Honda Halfords Yuasa Racing ia also best team, ahead of Motorbase Performance.
The 2016 British Touring Car Championship will resume on April 16-17 at Donongton Park.