Turkington takes opening honours
Championship leader Colin Turkington has extended his advantage at the top of the BTCC standings after claiming a maiden victory at Rockingham in the opening race.
The eBay Motors driver got the jump on pole-sitter Sam Tordoff off the line and despite coming under intense early pressure, he eventually pulled clear to win by a comfortable margin.
Tordoff held second from his MG KX Clubcard Fuel Save team-mate Jason Plato until the finish.
Most of the action was behind the lead trio with fourth place changing hands several times before the Chrome Edition Restart Racing VW of Alain Menu took the position late on, rounding off a sensational drive by the Swiss driver.
Honda Yuasa Racing’s Gordon Shedden had held the position early on but his Civic Tourer came into contact with Plato’s MG while battling for third and the Scotsman dropped down the order as he impressively saved his car from a wild spin. “You’ve got to try,” said Shedden. “There was a little gap with Jason and I’m trying everything. The car was really good but I think that moment bent the steering or something and the car was hobbled after that. You’ve got to roll the dice but we’ll reassess and come back strong for the next one.”
That moment handed fourth to the Mercedes of Adam Morgan who had passed reigning champion Andrew Jordan on the opening lap after the Pirtek Racing car was bulked up behind Shedden. Morgan gratefully took the position with his own impressive drive but Menu was busy tearing his way through the order on the Dunlop Sport Maxx soft tyre.
A fantastic double-move by the two Airwaves Racing cars was particularly eye-catching after Italian Fabrizio Giovanardi had tapped the rear of his team-mate Mat Jackson’s Ford Focus. Menu then made light work of a fading Jordan and he grabbed fourth on the penultimate lap after out-dragging Morgan’s Merc across the start/finish line.
“We had a good qualifying session considering it’s my first time here,” beamed Menu. “We had good pace throughout the race. We were on the soft tyre of course but I hope the pace wasn’t just down to that. You never like to see team-mates clashing but I had a little smile when I saw the two Fords touch and I was able to get by, which set me up for the rest of the race.”
Giovanardi followed behind Morgan and Jordan after he got the better of both Shedden and Jackson in yet another tight tussle. “It was a really nice race for me,” said Giovanardi. “It’s the first time the car has been how I really like it. We’ve made a change and I expect to have a good car for the rest of the day.”
Jack Goff’s VW completed the top ten order after he fended off a late double attack from eBay Motors’ Rob Collard and the Exocet Racing machine of Rob Austin.
There was one major incident of note, which brought about a brief safety car period following contact between Lea Wood and Warren Scott. It was unclear as to whether Wood’s Toyota was assisted off the track but his car eventually speared across the grass and into the unsuspecting Scott at Deene. Both cars were heavily damaged while Scott was left breathless following the high speed impact.
There was no doubting the class of the field, however, and that was clear race winner Turkington. “It’s a good start to the day,” he said. “We’ve got eight races left this season and I didn’t expect to win this one to be honest. We had a very late night debrief to try and improve the car and thankfully the hard work paid off. We knew the MGs would be quick early on but we were able to defend and then work on a gap. There are no easy win in the BTCC though so it’s time to think about how we’re going to approach race two.”
Click here for the final classification from round 22 of the 2014 Dunlop MSA British Touring Car Championship