How the season unfolded: Donington Park
Following up on the epic season-opener at Brands Hatch Indy, where each of the races was decided by less than a second, the three most successful drivers currently in the Dunlop MSA British Touring Car Championship swept the board at Donington Park.
Jason Plato, Colin Turkington and Matt Neal hold seven drivers’ titles between them and their class told on a classic day’s racing in Leicestershire.
Race one was Plato’s, as he got the jump on Gordon Shedden’s Honda Civic Type R off the line and closed into the sister VW CC of Turkington – passing his team mate, and the then reigning champion, on the run into the final chicane. Out front he stayed – keeping Turkington back at arms length, with a second and some in hand at the chequered flag.
The bulk of the battling occurred behind Plato, between Shedden and Turkington for second place. The pair exchanged places before the Honda man slid wide at Redgate on lap seven. Turkington took a dive down the inside of the Type R but could only hold the Scot off for a second as Shedden stole the spot back on the switchback into the Craner Curves. He was able to hold the Team BMR man off until the finish, setting the fastest lap in the process.
With that new lap record, Shedden started race two from the front, ahead of Turkington. The VW made it by the Honda on lap one and despite some ruthless dicing, the Team BMR machine eventually pulled away for a comfortable Turkington victory – five different winners in the opening five rounds… WIX Racing’s Adam Morgan notched his first top three finish of the season, completing the podium.
Race three proved a relentless battle to the finish, with Matt Neal besting the rest to win and become the first double victor of the season.
Impressive rookie Josh Cook started from pole and started positively. Rob Collard’s BMW slipped past Cook off the line but he was soon able to re-pass his man and dictate from the front in the opening laps.
The race was neutralised, however, on lap six after a coming-together between Sam Tordoff and Jack Goff, ending with a BMW and an MG in the gravel. Cook’s lead was lost behind the safety car, setting up a spectacular end to the weekend.
Positions swapped minute-to-minute after the restart as Plato, Jordan and Morgan tussled at the head of the pack. Aron thth had ascended to an astounding second, having started 12th on the grid and he swiftly began to reel in the race-leading Chevrolet of Cook, resulting in some excellent tit-for-tat scrapping over the following laps.
The action came to a head as the pair touched through the high-speed Craner Curves, sending both cars bouncing across the grass – Smith narrowly avoided side-swiping the chasing huddle and re-joined behind them, leaving Collard out front.
Neal hauled in the WSR man and squeezed into the lead with two tours left. Andrew Jordan in the 888 MG did too, eventually getting sandwiched between the Honda pairing as Shedden stormed to an impressive third from way back in 14th on the grid.
Collard managed to keep hold of fourth while a stunning drive from teenager Aiden Moffatt saw him take fifth.
Matt Neal held and very slightly extended his lead at the summit of the Drivers Championship after Donington, with Goff dropping from second to sixth. Shedden made up ground with a more consistent rounds four, five and six while Jason Plato made his mark on the top six.
Status quo for the top four outfits in the Teams Championship with Team BMR leading Honda Yuasa Racing, MG 888 Racing and Team JCT600 with GardX.
BTCC Drivers Championship:
- Matt Neal, 75
- Colin Turkington, 73
- Gordon Shedden, 67
- Andrew Jordan, 63
- Jason Plato, 58
- Jack Goff, 54
HiQ Teams Championship:
- Team BMR, 154
- Honda Yuasa Racing, 140
- MG 888 Racing, 118
- Team JCT600 with GardX, 93
- Wix Racing, 55
- Power Maxed Racing 51