James Cole claims maiden BTCC victory
Adrian Flux Subaru Racing’s James Cole has taken his first ever Dunlop MSA British Touring Car Championship victory with a commanding drive in the opener at Rockingham.
Cole’s Subaru Levorg blasted away from pole position and fended off early challenges from fellow front row starter Jack Goff. The Eurotech Racing Honda was often within touching distance of the race leader, but rarely close enough to make a significant move.
29-year-old Cole gradually began to pull away from the chasing pack as Goff fell back into the clutches of Ashley Sutton’s Subaru. Championship contender Sutton had previously defended from the fast starting MG of Josh Cook, who had himself surged from eighth on the grid up to fourth.
Once Sutton had pegged Cook’s MG6 the young charger began to haul his Levorg onto the the back of Goff’s Civic Type R. Sutton’s moment would come on the second to last corner of the final lap as he made a move stick to give Adrian Flux Subaru Racing an impressive one-two finish.
“I’ll take that,” beamed Sutton. “I was happy with third but Jack (Goff) ran a little wide into the hairpin on the last lap and I made it through. It’s another phenomenal result for Adrian Flux Subaru Racing. Josh (Cook) was on full attack mode, as you’d expect, and he could have stuck it up the inside a few times. We have to balance the car’s strengths over the lap with its weaknesses and play it accordingly.”
Goff completed the podium ahead of Cook, whilst multiple BTCC champions Matt Neal and Colin Turkington claimed relatively lonely fifth and sixth places respectively.
“I’m surprised I held on as long as I did – I knew it’d be an uphill struggle,” said a relaxed Goff. “The car was fantastic but I was struggling in the traction and braking zones late on. They can come up the inside or around the outside like at Snetterton in that situation. It’s another bit of silverware for our lads. Josh (Cook) was eager to get past into the last corner and was bumping a bit but that’s racing and we held on.”
Team Shredded Wheat Racing with Duo’s Mat Jackson sealed seventh and Ciceley Motorsport’s Adam Morgan grabbed a hard fought eighth place, after he eventually got the better of an early scrap with Tom Chilton’s Power Maxed Racing Vauxhall Astra. Josh Price and Jason Plato made it four Subarus in the top ten.
Title protagonists Tom Ingram, Gordon Shedden and Rob Collard endured a difficult outing, with all three failing to score points. Ingram’s Speedworks Toyota suffered brake problems off the line and soon retired, whilst Shedden’s Honda picked up a puncture late on. Collard’s BMW 125i M Sport failed to make any real progress from 20th on the grid, and the experienced racer subsequently couldn’t make the points for only the first time this season.
The plaudits for Round 22, however, go to race winner Cole as he scored his first success in Britain’s premier motor sport series. “I don’t want to say I’m speechless again, but I am,” he said. “The race couldn’t have gone any more perfectly. I knew the front-wheel drives would be quick at the start. It was about getting away well and holding them off until they started to struggle. I knew the temperatures would suit us towards the end of the race, but at the start Jack (Goff) just wouldn’t go away.
“You can feel the tyres – it’s super abrasive here and we’re not as quick at the beginning here, but we can manage it better towards the end. If it’s a win, Ash (Sutton) can bugger off, but anything else, then fair enough. Race two with max ballast and hard tyres will be tough, it’s getting warmer though so you never know.”
2017 Dunlop MSA British Touring Car Championship – Round 22 – Rockingham
1 James COLE (GBR) Adrian Flux Subaru Racing 16 laps
2 Ashley SUTTON (GBR) Adrian Flux Subaru Racing +2.571s
3 Jack GOFF (GBR) Eurotech Racing +3.167s
4 Josh COOK (GBR) MG Racing RCIB Insurance +3.308s
5 Matt NEAL (GBR) Halfords Yuasa Racing +4.946s
6 Colin TURKINGTON (GBR) Team BMW +5.245s
7 Mat JACKSON (GBR) Team Shredded Wheat Racing with Duo +7.937s
8 Adam MORGAN (GBR) Ciceley Motorsport +8.458s
9 Josh PRICE (GBR) Adrian Flux Subaru Racing +8.698s
10 Jason PLATO (GBR) Adrian Flux Subaru Racing +10.157s
11 Tom CHILTON (GBR) Power Maxed Racing +14.234s
12 Andrew JORDAN (GBR) BMW Pirtek Racing +14.976s
13 Dave NEWSHAM (GBR) BTC Norlin Racing +15.839s
14 Ollie JACKSON (GBR) AmDtuning.com with Cobra Exhausts +22.248s
15 Michael EPPS (GBR) TAG Racing +22.693s
16 Aron TAYLOR-SMITH (IRL) MG Racing RCIB Insurance +23.903s
17 Rob COLLARD (GBR) Team BMW +24.200s
18 Ant WHORTON-EALES (GBR) AmDtuning.com with Cobra Exhausts +24.870s
19 Aiden MOFFAT (GBR) Laser Tools Racing +31.478s
20 Chris SMILEY (GBR) BTC Norlin Racing +32.048s
21 Senna PROCTOR (GBR) Power Maxed Racing +33.655s
22 Martin DEPPER (GBR) Team Shredded Wheat Racing with Duo +35.254s
23 Will BURNS (GBR) Autoaid/RCIB Insurance Racing +35.506s
24 Jake HILL (GBR) TAG Racing +37.687s
25 Rory BUTCHER (GBR) Team Shredded Wheat Racing with Duo +39.334s
26 Stephen JELLEY (GBR) Team Parker with Maximum Motorsport +40.884s
27 Brett SMITH (GBR) Eurotech Racing +43.747s
28 Matt SIMPSON (GBR) Simpson Racing +44.264s
29 Stewart LINES (GBR) Team Parker with Maximum Motorsport +51.271s
30 Gordon SHEDDEN (GBR) Halfords Yuasa Racing +1 lap
31 Rob AUSTIN (GBR) Handy Motorsport +1 lap
DNF Tom INGRAM (GBR) Speedworks Motorsport +16 laps