WEEKEND WRAP-UP: OULTON PARK
Following the annual summer break, the 2021 Kwik Fit British Touring Car Championship got back underway at Oulton Park on 31 July/1 August and today’s Weekend Wrap-Up is taking you back to the 2.23-mile Cheshire circuit!
A DAY OF FIRSTS AT OULTON PARK
Rowbottom, Butcher and Proctor each claim a BTCC win in Cheshire
It was a day of firsts during a dramatic Kwik Fit British Touring Car Championship encounter at Oulton Park, as Dan Rowbottom, Rory Butcher and Senna Proctor each claimed a win apiece.
Rowbottom took a popular maiden BTCC career victory in the opening race in Cheshire, before Toyota Gazoo Racing UK’s Butcher and BTC Racing’s Proctor each went on to chalk up a first success of the season.
Halfords Racing with Cataclean kicked off proceedings by scoring a fantastic one-two, as Rowbottom edged out three-time champion team-mate Gordon Shedden.
The contest came down to a six-lap shootout after the initial bout was red-flagged following heavy contact in an incident involving Tom Oliphant (Team BMW), Chris Smiley (Ginsters EXCELR8 with TradePriceCars.com) and Rick Parfitt (EXCELR8 with TradePriceCars.com).
Much of the Honda duo’s progress was completed in the first segment as Shedden nipped by pole-sitter Proctor, whilst Rowbottom nearly flew from fourth to first with his own brilliant start.
The hard work could have been undone, however, when they were made to do it all again following a sizeable shunt on lap seven.
The Adrian Flux with Power Maxed Racing Vauxhall of Jason Plato and Oliphant’s BMW made contact at Lodge corner, which left the latter sprawled across the racetrack. The Hyundais of both Smiley and Parfitt unfortunately collected the stricken 3 Series and stewards were left with no option but to red flag the race.
Rowbottom made it stick on the restart as he blasted his #32 Honda Civic Type R around the outside of Shedden on the run down to turn one, and he subsequently went on to claim an outstanding triumph in front of a jubilant crowd.
Car Gods with Ciceley Motorsport’s Adam Morgan got the better of Butcher and Stephen Jelley (Team BMW) in an eye-catching battle between the trio for the final place on the podium.
Butcher then clinched the first victory since his off-season switch to Toyota Gazoo Racing UK after the Scotsman made an incredible start in the second bout at the picturesque venue.
It was the seventh career success for Butcher, but it looked relatively unlikely with his Toyota Corolla lining up fourth on the grid.
A brave move around the outside of Morgan’s BMW at Cascades on the opening tour was immediately followed by a dynamic double, as he forcefully made his way past the Halfords Racing with Cataclean duo of Rowbottom and Shedden at Island Bend.
Butcher was already pulling clear by the conclusion of the first lap and he continued to extend that gap for the full 12-lap duration.
Rowbottom clinched second despite coming under race-long pressure from Morgan – both drivers expertly taking their second podium of the day.
BTC Racing’s Proctor eventually took the result that his pace clearly deserved as the Yorkshireman claimed victory in the final encounter.
Drama ensued from the outset – as it has done throughout the weekend – when the race was red-flagged on the first of two occasions, the latter incident ending the race ahead of schedule.
The first accident involved a pirouetting Ford Focus of Sam Osborne, which had been sent spiralling off-track by another rival, before catching out the likes of Jack Mitchell (Team HARD. with Autobrite Direct), Jade Edwards (PHSC with BTC Racing), Jack Butel (EXCELR8 with TradePriceCars.com) and several others, who were all involved in subsequent contact.
The restart was no less dramatic – this time it was reigning champion and standings leader Ash Sutton spinning out of contention as he attacked Proctor for the lead. The duo went side-by-side through Old Hall Corner before almost inevitable contact sent the #1 Laser Tools Racing car sliding down the order.
Sutton’s race was run as he tried to return when contact with Laser Tools Racing team-mate Carl Boardley finally ended his challenge.
Ironically, Boardley was involved in the accident that brought a high-speed end to proceedings with his Infiniti Q50 and Butcher’s Toyota Corolla careering into the barrier on lap eight.
When the dust settled on track it was Proctor’s Honda Civic Type R winning from Jelley’s 330i M Sport, the latter having been the brightest light for Team BMW throughout the weekend.
Shedden completed the podium as the experienced Scotsman enjoyed his most promising weekend of the season so far, as did Laser Tools Racing’s Aiden Moffat, who secured a top six hat-trick on the day.
Despite a disappointing end to his weekend, Sutton still held the lead in the Drivers’ standings after Rounds 10, 11 and 12 of the campaign, with Ginsters EXCELR8 with TradePriceCars.com’s Tom Ingram a further five points in arrears – the Hyundai driver having also endured a dismal event at Oulton Park.
Rowbottom and MB Motorsport accelerated by Blue Square’s Jake Hill sit next in the order, the latter also having scored consistently over the weekend.
BMW topped the Manufacturers’/Constructors’ Championship, whilst Laser Tools Racing held the advantage in the Teams’ table.
Sutton and Laser Tools Racing maintained control of the Independents’ honours, whilst Rowbottom extended his lead in the Jack Sears Trophy.
Team BMW’s Colin Turkington headed the Goodyear Wingfoot Award after the fourth event, thanks to consistent qualifying positions during the season so far.