Title twists as Jackson takes win
Mat Jackson took his first Dunlop MSA British Touring Car Championship win of the season as a number of title contenders endured mixed results in Sunday’s opening race at Rockingham.
Jackson’s Motorbase Performance Ford Focus shot off the line and never looked back, as drama erupted behind him.
With Jason Plato focussing on protecting his championship lead the Team BMR RCIB Insurance driver made a steady getaway from fifth on the grid, but his race completely unravelled before the end of the first tour. Contact from Tom Ingram’s Toyota, who had himself been tapped by Josh Cook’s Chevrolet meant three into one simply wouldn’t go.
Plato limped back to the pits for repairs and although he lost three laps in the process, his team did a stellar job to get him back on-track. Such are the rules for this year that Jason was able to make the best of his slightly bent VW CC to set the 12th fastest lap time, meaning he will at least start in the mid-pack for race two.
“It wasn’t part of the plan but what can you do,” said Plato. “It was a crucial to get back out there and the team did a brilliant job. Now we’ve realistically got to target a race three win.”
With Gordon Shedden facing a post-qualifying grid penalty yesterday few would have predicted that he would be the overall winner of the title protagonists. A blistering start in his Honda Civic Type R left him third at the end of the opening lap, and the Scotsman went one better with a clean move by Aron Smith on the fourth tour.
“What a fantastic race,” said Shedden. “There was loads of overtaking and this was the best possible result for me.”
Smith had to fend off attention from behind for the remainder of the race as Jack Goff’s MG and Matt Neal’s Honda kept him honest. The Irishman held on to take the final podium position ahead of Goff, but not before misfortune had struck another title contender as Neal’s Type R suffered from a puncture on the last lap. The experienced racer did well to hang on and bring the car home in eighth, although he relinquished positions to Ingram, Andrew Jordan and Colin Turkington.
Those three had also experienced mixed encounters with Speedworks’ Ingram having to recover from a poor start and that opening lap moment with Cook and Plato, whilst Jordan’s pace improved rapidly as the race progressed. Turkington completed a relatively low key affair to claim seventh.
Behind the labouring Neal came Adam Morgan’s Mercedes and the BMW of Sam Tordoff. WIX Racing’s Morgan set the second fastest lap of the race, and he will start alongside Shedden on the front row for the next contest.
There were some other notable moments that saw Stewart Lines’ Toyota fired into the gravel after contact from Derek Palmer’s Infiniti, whilst Kieran Gallagher’s race ended in the barrier after a bizarre incident with Dextra Racing’s Alex Martin.
Further up the order there was late heartache for young Aiden Moffat as his recent run of success came to an end. A maiden podium at his Knockhill home race last time out and yesterday’s best ever qualifying of eighth was unfortunately followed by a non-finish in this race as he spun off while fighting with the sister Mercedes of Morgan.
Morgan remained in the thick of the action as Warren Scott scuppered his chances of a points finish after making slight contact with the yellow three-pointed-star machine ahead of him, which broke something on the VW and forced the Team BMR RCIB Insurance man out of contention.
There was little doubting the winner, however, although he too faced drama with his own puncture on the last lap. Thankfully it came too late to threaten his race and he crawled across the line to claim a well deserved win.
“To get pole position was great but to top it off with a win is amazing,” said Jackson. “We only just made it after a front-right puncture, but the team has given me a great car and it’s a fantastic result.”
Race 1 result:
- Mat JACKSON (GBR) Motorbase Performance
- Gordon SHEDDEN (GBR) Honda Yuasa Racing
- Aron SMITH (IRL) Team BMR RCIB Insurance
- Jack GOFF (GBR) MG 888 Racing
- Tom INGRAM (GBR) Speedworks Motorsport
- Andrew JORDAN (GBR) MG 888 Racing
- Colin TURKINGTON (GBR) Team BMR RCIB Insurance
- Matt NEAL (GBR) Honda Yuasa Racing
- Adam MORGAN (GBR) WIX Racing
- Sam TORDOFF (GBR) JCT600 Racing with GardX
- Dave NEWSHAM (GBR) Power Maxed Racing
- James COLE (GBR) Motorbase Performance
- Josh COOK (R) (GBR) Power Maxed Racing
- Martin DEPPER (GBR) Eurotech Racing
- Mike BUSHELL (R) (GBR) AmD Tuning.com
- Nick FOSTER (GBR) Team IHG Rewards Club
- Robb HOLLAND (USA) Handy Motorsport
- Robert COLLARD (GBR) JCT600 Racing with GardX
- Rob AUSTIN (GBR) Exocet AlcoSense
- Nicolas HAMILTON (GBR) AmD Tuning.com
- Daniel WELCH (GBR) Welch Motorsport
- Stewart LINES (R) (GBR) Houseman Racing
- Hunter ABBOTT (GBR) Exocet AlcoSense
- Alex MARTIN (R) (GBR) Dextra Racing
- Jeff SMITH (GBR) Eurotech Racing
- Derek P ALMER (R) (GBR) Support Our Paras Racing
- Jason PLATO (GBR) Team BMR RCIB Insurance
DNF Aiden MOFFAT (GBR) Laser Tools Racing
DNF Warren SCOTT (GBR) Team BMR RCIB Insurance
DNF Kieran GALLAGHER (R) (GBR) RCIB Insurance Racing