Morgan wins frenetic Thruxton opener
Adam Morgan won a quite breathtaking opening Dunlop MSA British Touring Car Championship race at Thruxton after carving his way through the melee to become the first double winner of the 2016 season.
The race began in frenetic fashion and that theme was maintained throughout the shortened contest, which initially looked to favour pole-sitter Tom Ingram off the line. A slipstreaming contest commenced down to the first chicane, however, which left Ingram alongside both Matt Neal and Aiden Moffat.
Three into one simply wouldn’t go and when the dust settled it was Neal’s Honda out front while Moffat and Ingram were shuffled down the order following slight contact.
MG’s Josh Cook and WIX Racing’s Morgan eyed their opportunity and slipped through into second and third respectively, while the other MG6 of Ashley Sutton went off on lap two while tussling with Ingram.
Neal led from Cook, Morgan, Moffat and Ingram at the end of the second tour, with positions changing at almost every corner. Morgan’s Mercedes then blasted by Cook into the final chicane, and the latter was further demoted by several others as he tried to regain his composure.
Morgan hounded Neal’s ballast-laden Honda Civic Type R and produced a stunning move on the leader across the start/finish line at the end of lap four, as a gaggle of some seven cars jostled for places in front of the stunned spectators beneath the Hampshire sunshine.
Moffat clawed his way past Neal too, seemingly completing his recovery and potentially giving Mercedes a first ever one-two in the BTCC. It wasn’t to be, however, after he ran wide with a puncture on lap ten. Mat Jackson’s Ford Focus faced a similar fate at the same time, leaving debris all over the circuit.
When the leaders next blasted their way down Brooklands and Woodham Hill it was to be Neal’s Honda that endured a puncture. The triple champion attempted to pull into the pitlane but was collected by an unsighted Cook, which then resulted in the likes of Gordon Shedden, Jeff Smith and Jake Hill also being caught up in the incident.
With cars now littering the track officials were left with little choice but to cut the race short and the red flags were immediately waved by the Thruxton marshals.
With the contest being officially classified at the end of lap 11 it left Morgan with a richly deserved win ahead of the recovering Ingram and Andrew Jordan’s Pirtek Racing Ford Focus, who had himself made steady progress up the order.
Jeff Smith maintained fourth, despite the incident, while team-mate Martin Depper scored a career best fifth place – handing Eurotech Racing an impressive double top five finish.
Rob Collard topped a BMW trio next in the order as he surged ahead of his WSR stablemates Sam Tordoff and Jack Goff to take sixth. Collard was disappointed to have qualified down in 18th yesterday, but his performance and result in race one will have gone some way to making amends.
Feel good stories followed in the classification for Welch Motorsport and Team Hard. Daniel Welch took ninth – his first top ten since Silverstone in 2013 – while Jake Hill and Michael Epps were next in the order. Hill scored Team HARD’s first top ten since Goff’s podium in the 2013 season finale and team-mate Epps, in eleventh, took Jack Sears Trophy honours.
Race two is scheduled to take place at 14:30 with all the action being screened live and exclusively on ITV4.
“That was nuts! It all kicked off going into the Complex on lap one, but I managed to put my car in the right place at the right time and miss most of it, which moved me up to third. Tyre conservation was clearly key, but without reallypushing the car that hard, I seemed to be taking loads of time out of Matt [Neal] and Josh [Cook] ahead. Matt gave me a tough time trying to get past for the lead, but once I was through it was a case of getting my head down and with Matt defending so heavily from the rest, I was able to escape up the road. First double winner of 2016 – yep, we’ll take that!”
“Well that was all a bit dramatic, wasn’t it! I got hit on the opening lap and then again a few laps later. It was all about keeping your head and trying to manage your tyres as best as possible – although obviously, the racing instinct also kicks in, which is what made for so much carnage. I knew we had the pace towin, but after the first lap, it became more of a recovery drive. We’ve got a little bit of cosmetic damage, but in the circumstances, nothing too bad and I’ll definitely settle for second place given everything else that was going on!”
“What a manic race! I quite enjoyed it all – we came out of it alright and I’m very happy to finish third. There were a lot of people taking some brave pills and very little quarter given, which made for a few worrying moments. The car felt really good and our tyres hung on well. I’m feeling positive for race two, although with more weight on-board, we’ll need to focus on playing the long game for the remainder of the day.”
2016 Dunlop MSA British Touring Car Championship – Round 7 – Thruxton
1 Adam MORGAN (GBR) WIX Racing 11 laps
2 Tom INGRAM (GBR) Speedworks Motorsport +3.310s
3 Andrew JORDAN (GBR) Motorbase Performance +3.820s
4 Jeff SMITH (GBR) Eurotech Racing +5.115s
5 Martin DEPPER (GBR) Eurotech Racing +5.824s
6 Robert COLLARD (GBR) Team JCT600 Racing with GardX +6.464s
7 Sam TORDOFF (GBR) Team JCT600 Racing with GardX +8.179s
8 Jack GOFF (GBR) Team IHG Rewards Club +8.179s
9 Daniel WELCH (GBR) Goodstone Racing +8.672s
10 Jake HILL (GBR) RCIB Insurance Racing +8.809s
11 Michael EPPS (GBR) RCIB Insurance Racing +9.185s
12 Daniel LLOYD (GBR) Eurotech Racing +10.738s
13 Matt SIMPSON (GBR) Speedworks Motorsport +14.491s
14 Rob AUSTIN (GBR) Handy Motorsport +14.839s
15 Hunter ABBOTT (GBR) Power Maxed Racing +16.076s
16 Alex MARTIN (GBR) Dextra Racing +20.748s
17 Ollie JACKSON (GBR) AmD Tuning.com +21.288s
18 Chris SMILEY (GBR) TLC Racing +21.280s
19 Stewart LINES (GBR) Maximum Motorsport +31.218s
20 Aron SMITH (IRL) BKR +46.808s
21 Mat JACKSON (GBR) Motorbase Performance +1m24.922s
22 Aiden MOFFAT (GBR) Laser Tools Racing +1m48.340s
DNF Gordon SHEDDEN (GBR) Halfords Yuasa Racing +6.305s
DNF Matt NEAL (GBR) Halfords Yuasa Racing +1 lap
DNF Josh COOK (GBR) MG Racing RCIB Insurance +1 lap
DNF Mark HOWARD (GBR) BKR +2 laps
DNF Ashley SUTTON (GBR) MG Racing RCIB Insurance +9 laps
DNF Kelvin FLETCHER (GBR) Power Maxed Racing +10 laps