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David Addison’s ‘Moonlighting’: Episode 5

I’m struggling to remember May. A lot seems to have happened since the BTCC last blasted over the timing line at the end of race three at Thruxton in Hampshire, and in that time a number of teams have been hard at work.

Much has been written and said about the dramas that befell Simon Belcher and Ollie Jackson, so let’s not dwell on them any more. Instead, let’s be thankful that everyone was OK and praise their teams for the hard work that has been done since to get cars back on the grid for Oulton Park this weekend.

So, back to business: we head to Oulton with Andrew Jordan as the championship leader and he was a race winner in Cheshire last year, so don’t bet against him winning again this season. Jordan’s confidence is up, he is driving better than ever and is continuing to build on his successful 2013 campaign. It has just continued over into 2014 and he is looking hard to stop. One win for the Pirtek Racing driver? Yep. Maybe even more than that.

But expect one also from Team Dynamics as the squad has turned the Civic Tourer into a very rapid machine. A surprise? No, not really. Let’s face it, the team has learned a lot from its years of the hatchback Civic in the championship and those lessons have been transplanted into the new car. And if it were a gamble to run the new shape, it is likely that they wouldn’t have done it. So, with Gordon Shedden lying second in the championship, expect more success before the end of the season and don’t rule him out of being a title candidate.

Colin Turkington is continuing to impress in the eBay Motors BMW and could, should, be up front this weekend. On a BMW note, it has been good to see Rob Collard back up near the front, although he got roughed up a bit at Thruxton. I wonder if there is a score still to be settled with Matt Neal after race three…

What of the others? Jason Plato. He’s fifth in the championship but desperately needs some points this weekend. Thruxton didn’t look great in races one or two but then to be hit at the start of race three just put the tin hat on the weekend. While you can never discount JP, he is facing a big points deficit right now. Last year, there was success and flames if you recall and so the car has a proven track record around Oulton but needs its reliability sorting. With that, Plato can fight back.

I confess to being a bit surprised that we haven’t seen better out of Adam Morgan’s Mercedes yet. It looks great and is still developing, but I thought it might have been a more frequent visitor to the top six. It may unlock more of its potential this weekend, which would be a boost for Morgan on home soil. Also, Airwaves Racing looked far better at Thruxton, and while it is always a circuit at which Fabrizio Giovanardi and Mat Jackson go well, it did look as though the pace of the car was genuine. Oulton Park is a very different circuit and therefore it will be fascinating to see if the progress made at Thruxton can be continued here. There was genuine optimism for the rest of the season and I’m hoping that it wasn’t a blip and that we’ll see the immaculate Fords getting in the mix for podium finishes.

The current era of the BTCC is a tough one to be in as there are so many top teams and drivers and you can’t luck in to success any more. You have to be at the top of your game and be consistent, so expect the usual front-runners to be up there. Wins? I’d go Plato, Jordan and Shedden, but there may be others who can challenge, such as Matt Neal and Sam Tordoff while Coin Turkington got a fifth, third and second last year so the BMW has proved it is a car with potential around Oulton. It should add up to a pretty hectic weekend.

Local driver James Cole will be hoping for better fortune, still a bit sore after his huge Donington smash two months ago, but he excelled in Formula Ford 1600 a few years ago and should be able to use his track knowledge to good effect.

A final thought before the weekend consumes us is to wish Speedworks boss Christian Dick well after a nasty accident in the Zandvoort 12 Hours last weekend. Christian was confined to a Dutch hospital with wife Amy stuck in Amsterdam while she looked after him. It’s easy to forget the pains that others go through when their other half suffers an accident… Anyway, get well soon, Christian. A decent result from Tom Ingram would be a great boost.

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