BTCC 2016: Thruxton


A May heatwave ahead of the BTCC's fastest race of the year wasn't the news Dunlop particularly wanted to hear. It seems no amount of special-compound, Kevlar-packed rubber can offset the aggression of a hard-fought Thruxton touring car round, which led to a 25 per cent reduction in race distance for rounds eight and nine after carnage in the opening race.

Usual thirlls and spills at Thruxton!
Usual thirlls and spills at Thruxton!
A blazing Thruxton started off spicily. Speedworks Toyota Avensis driver Tom Ingram scored a fine pole on Saturday, but his cheer didn't last long after early-race barging saw Honda Yuasa Racing's Matt Neal emerge with the lead; Triple Eight MG driver Josh Cook followed in second, with WIX Racing MG's Adam Morgan in third. Ingram was down to fifth, behind Morgan's Mercedes counterpart Aiden Moffat. Morgan slowly reeled Neal in and took the lead on lap 4, but the real action was to follow...

It was all about punctures. Seemingly car after car suffered, with Mat Jackson being one of the highest profile, leaving debris littering the track. And then, into the chicane, Neal went straight - yes, a puncture. Good news: he was right alongside the pit entry. Bad news: the rest of the field was coming through. As he edged right to make it to the pit lane, he collided with Josh Cook, who slewed sideways and tapped Neal's teammate Gordon Shedden, with Jeff Smith and Jake Hill also getting involved. Result: carnage, and a shortened race won by Adam Morgan from Tom Ingram and Andrew Jordan (with WSR BMW's Rob Collard coming from 18th to sixth - note this...).

There were some furious drivers after the first race, some of whom took to TV and to Twitter to express their anger - Matt Neal did later apologise to Josh Cook though, blaming "a bit of miss info & hot head - it's me who's a halfwit sometimes but sorry guys". Cook Tweeted to thank him, but did add "shame your dad felt the need to threaten me after R3". It wasn't just the tyres that were wilting in the heat...

Tyres struggled even with Thruxton's new kerbs
Tyres struggled even with Thruxton's new kerbs
After all that drama, Thruxton's second race, now officially shorted from 16 laps to 12, was less dramatic. Motorbase Ford's Andrew Jordan made it seven race winners from eight races, with his first victory since 2014 (this is the 2013 BTCC champion, remember!) and a delighted cheer at the end. Adam Morgan grabbed another podium, behind Collard, while Shedden had a mighty drive from the back of the grid to fourth. Further back, Goodestone Racing's Dan Welch showed what a difference a decent engine in his Proton can make with ninth - which became a thrilled pole for race three courtesy of the reverse grid lottery.

In race three, it was a Motorbase double with Mat Jackson recovering from his race one misfortune with a popular and well-earned win. In triumphing, he becomes only the second driver to win more than a single race thus far in 2016: the other person to do so, that man Adam Morgan, was again on the podium to make it a hat-trick.

What about Welch? Well, Jackson beat him off the line but the Proton driver settled into a decent second place for the first few laps, strongly holding off the charging throng behind him despite starting on used rear tyres. Alas, it wasn't to be; he went off on lap five with what first looked like a puncture, but was later revealed to be a mechanical breakage. This left Matt Neal in second with WSR's Jack Goff in third, and a hungry Gordon Shedden behind him. But it really wasn't to be Shedden's day as, near the end of the race, Goff locked the rear of his car, slewed sideways into the Scot and plunged them both down the order. This gave Morgan the podium and also sixth place to Rob Collard - giving him the joint lead of the championship with Neal.

Not a great weekend for Shedden
Not a great weekend for Shedden
Props to BTCC debutant Dan Lloyd too. The 24-year-old Eurotech Racing driver has joined from a few years in GT cars and, in the third race, he clocked up a creditable ninth, earning him a Jack Sears Trophy win. Ashley Sutton still leads the championship for rookie drivers though, by a clear margin.

Now it's a four-week break before Oulton Park, hopefully for frayed tempers to calm, the British weather to revert back to type - and for the works-backed Subaru Levorgs of Jason Plato, Colin Turkington, James Cole and Warren Scott to resolve the fuel rail issue that led to an all-out withdrawal from Thruxton. The Silverline Subaru BMR Racing team had fitted new parts but these showed the same risk of fatigue that led to Cole's dramatic fire at Donington: the risk to the drivers, other competitors and circuit officials was not acceptable, said the team in a statement. Fingers crossed for a fix in time for Oulton.


Results:
Thruxton Race 1:
1st: Adam Morgan (WIX Racing)
2nd: Tom Ingram (Speedworks Motorsport)
3rd: Andrew Jordan (Motorbase Performance)

Thruxton Race 2:
1st: Andrew Jordan (Motorbase Performance)
2nd: Rob Collard (West Surrey Racing)
3rd: Adam Morgan (WIX Racing)

Thruxton Race 3:
1st: Mat Jackson (Motorbase Performance)
2nd: Matt Neal (Honda Yuasa Racing)
3rd: Adam Morgan (WIX Racing)

Drivers' championship
1=: Matt Neal (101 points)
1=: Rob Collard (101 points)
3: Adam Morgan (98 points)
4: Mat Jackson (90 points)
5: Gordon Shedden (86 points)

Independent drivers' championship
1: Adam Morgan (122 points)
2: Andrew Jordan (116 points)
3: Mat Jackson (113 points)
4: Aron Smith (93 points)
5: Rob Austin (85 points)

Jack Sears Trophy for rookies
1: Ash Sutton (120 points)
2: Matt Simpson (92 points)
3: Michael Epps (75 points)
4: Mark Howard (68 points)
5: Chris Smiley (50 points)

Previous rounds:
BTCC Brands Hatch Indy (rounds 1, 2, 3)
BTCC Donington (rounds 4, 5, 6)

Watch the highlights here

 

 

 

Photos: LAT Photo

 

 

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Comments (121) Join the discussion on the forum

  • emicen 05 May 2016

    Fastest circuit in the UK and the weather forecast says sunshine and cloud all weekend.

    What's everyone's predictions?

    Despite carrying ballast, can't help but think Motorbase should be right up there in qualifying. Be interesting to see how far the Subarus have come on since Donington as well.

  • Janesy B 05 May 2016

    Subarus won't be doing anything unless they get the power upgrades early. I think Honda and BMW will clean up.

  • shake n bake 05 May 2016

    The toyotas all look slippery in a straight line, frank wrathall always used to go well at thruxton too. I'd say the commentators favourite should go well this weekend.

  • N0ddie 05 May 2016

    One would expect to see the Hondas do well here. Maybe 2 wins out of 3?

  • Rob197 05 May 2016

    Hoping Jackson does well, has had bad luck with punctures and hitting/getting hit by Jordan so far!

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