TOUR­ING CAR CHAOS AT SNETTERTON

Vet­eran Rob Col­lard has moved to the top of the ti­tle race. By Matt James TAKES COM­MAND

Motor Sport News - - Front Page -

The re­sults dur­ing the Snetterton Bri­tish Tour­ing Car Cham­pi­onship week­end were such that Rob Col­lard in his WSR BMW left with the points lead. He was smil­ing af­ter claim­ing a run­ners-up spot in race three, as was win­ner, Honda’s Gor­don Shed­den.

Colin Turk­ing­ton took the first rear-wheel-drive vic­tory at Snetterton since the switch to full NGTC reg­u­la­tions in 2013 in the open­ing race in his Subaru Levorg GT, but a huge mid­field crash in race two (won by Mat Jackson’s Motorbase Per­for­mance Ford Fo­cus) and an even more fright­en­ing start line in­ci­dent in race three were wor­ry­ing.

Ev­ery­one breathed a sigh of re­lief as they drove out of the gates af­ter some reck­less driv­ing. The BTCC dodged a bul­let last week­end.

Race one

The speed­traps told their own tale af­ter qual­i­fy­ing – and they also pointed to what a fan­tas­tic job Shed­den had done to power the Honda Civic to pole po­si­tion. It was an on-the-edge lap, and enough to give him a 0.01s buf­fer ahead of Turk­ing­ton’s Subaru.

The speed mon­i­tors showed that Shed­den – ad­mit­tedly only car­ry­ing 15kg of bal­last – was go­ing to be a sit­ting duck on the straights, es­pe­cially against the rapid Levorg.

That is ex­actly how it proved. Shed­den got the sling­shot into the lead at Riches and Turk­ing­ton fol­lowed – even though there was an in­ves­ti­ga­tion into the North­ern Ir­ish­man’s get­away, which was later dis­missed. Turk­ing­ton hunted and hunted the Honda, but was just un­able to force his way through.

Time and again Turk­ing­ton tried to get the run out of the Agos­tini hair­pin only to be re­buffed in to Hamil­ton – and he even tried a tight move com­ing out of Og­gies at half dis­tance. Both were run­ning on the soft tyres too, so wait­ing for the Dun­lops to wilt wasn’t an op­tion.

“I didn’t re­ally know what to do,” said Turk­ing­ton af­ter­wards. “We had Mat Jackson’s Fo­cus be­hind, so I wasn’t sure whether to drop back from Shed­den and let him get on with it and maybe he would start to strug­gle later on. In the end, I de­cided against it and tried to ham­mer him.”

Even­tu­ally, it worked. With two such clean drivers, it was al­ways go­ing to take some­thing spe­cial. When it came, it was a tiny er­ror from Shed­den.

“He ran just a lit­tle wide at Agos­tini, and that gave me the chance to get my nose down the in­side,” said Turk­ing­ton. “That was what I needed.”

From star­ing at the bootlid of the Honda for seven laps, Turk­ing­ton scam­pered away and crossed the line 2.771s clear af­ter 12 laps.

Shed­den was gutted, but it had been a well-fought bat­tle. ‘The Subaru used its ad­van­tage which it has over us, which is its power out of the slow cor­ners,” said Shed­den. “It had been hard work. I was as de­fen­sive as I could be. Sec­ond is a good re­sult, first would have been bet­ter, but we are go­ing to go away now and try to re­think things for race two.”

Mat Jackson had a steady race for third, which was Motorbase’s 300th event in the cat­e­gory, and he man­aged to claim the team’s 1000th point for an Ngtc-spec car. He took that de­spite con­tact away from the line with Adam Morgan’s Merc, which dam­aged the bumper on the Fo­cus. “We were lucky to get away with that,” said Jackson . “It could have ru­ined the race.”

Morgan was per­plexed that his car was not as good as it had been in qual­i­fy­ing. “It wasn’t un­driv­able, but we were cer­tainly miss­ing the edge that we had 24 hours ago,” he said. He nev­er­the­less banked fourth place.

Both of the Triple Eight Rac­ing MGS should have been well in the mix too, but for fail­ures on the front-left Dun­lops, which were the soft op­tion tyres. Ash Sut­ton had jumped Morgan ini­tially to run fourth, but the Merc man bat­tled back on lap three.

Sut­ton’s team-mate, Josh Cook, was the first to depart when he dropped out of a strong eighth with a de­fla­tion on lap eight, while Sut­ton only lasted two more tours be­fore his rub­ber went flat.

Sut­ton ex­plained: “There was no warn­ing .The team were just about to get on the ra­dio to me to tell me that Josh had a prob­lem, and mine went. We weren’t run­ning a trick set-up and there was no rea­son for it to hap­pen.”

Cook agreed: “I was be­ing care­ful, and there was no warn­ing. Just as I turned in to the left han­der at the Esses, it went. It is very puz­zling.”

Those dra­mas helped Ja­son Plato’s Team BMR Subaru to claim fifth af­ter he had un­picked a solid de­fence from Tom Ingram’s Speed­works Toy­ota Aven­sis with a mas­ter­ful over­take around the out­side at Agos­tini on lap 11, a move that was rem­i­nis­cent of short oval ac­tion. Ingram had been strug­gling with a vi­bra­tion, but it was still hats off to Plato.

“It was great,” said Plato. “I knew I had to try some­thing dif­fer­ent be­cause Tom had great straight-line speed, and it worked per­fectly. I had run slightly wide at Agos­tini in free prac­tice, and I had grip. I stored that in­for­ma­tion and it came in use­ful.”

Be­hind Ingram in sixth, points leader Sam Tord­off had de­cided to take the pain in his fully bal­lasted WSR BMW 125i M Sport. He opted for the soft tyres al­lied to the 75kg of suc­cess bal­last and just “got through” race one. “Even if I had fin­ished 20th, it wouldn’t have mat­tered. I just wanted it out of the way,” he said. Sev­enth was one hell of a way to limit the pain.

Matt Neal, also in the ti­tle hunt, was also haul­ing a large amount of lead bal­last. He had 57kg, but was able to track Tord­off for eighth spot – although Neal had used the medium rub­ber rather than the white-walled cov­ers.

The sec­ond two Team BMR Subaru Levorgs of War­ren Scott and James Cole rounded out the top 10, which marked a wa­ter­shed for the team.

Two of the main ca­su­al­ties of the race were a lack­lus­tre Rob Col­lard, who had dragged 66kg of suc­cess bal­last to a lowly 18th on the grid af­ter strug­gling for set-up on the WSR BMW 125i M Sport. He could only im­prove to 16th in the race.

That was two places be­hind the sec­ond Motorbase Ford Fo­cus of An­drew Jor­dan, who had been forced to start from the back af­ter a power steer­ing prob­lem in qual­i­fy­ing. He was spat on to the grass on the open­ing lap, but bat­tled back to 14th.

Race two

Turk­ing­ton hauled his 75kg to Riches first at the start of race two, but there was a bat­tle be­hind. Mat Jackson ran side-by-side with Shed­den go­ing around the cor­ner and made the move stick com­ing out of the turn. In to the Wil­son hair­pin, Mat Jackson forged an open­ing in­side a slightly way­ward Turk­ing­ton to grab the lead.

It would count for noth­ing though. There was a huge shunt on the Bent­ley Straight halfway around the first lap. Ol­lie Jackson (AMD Tun­ing.com Audi S3) and Dan Welch (Welch Pro­ton Per­sona) got to­gether on the exit of Wil­liams and may­hem en­sued, with Hunter Ab­bott (Power Maxed Rac­ing Chevro­let), Alex Martin (Team Parker Rac­ing Ford Fo­cus) and Sut­ton also sig­nif­i­cantly in­volved. There was a lot of dam­age, but thank­fully no in­juries.

It gifted Turk­ing­ton an­other chance at nail­ing the start – and he would only have to carry the huge lump of lead for 10 laps this time.

The North­ern Ir­ish­man’s ad­van­tage lasted only two cor­ners fur­ther. Mat Jackson again dealt with Shed­den as the cars rounded Riches, and then pow­ered up to the rear of the Subaru at Agos­tini. He nipped in front on the exit, but Turk­ing­ton felt there had been a lit­tle bit of con­tact.

A nudge was some­thing Turk­ing­ton would ex­pe­ri­ence a lap later, too. As the field pow­ered in to the Wil­son hair­pin, Shed­den was down the in­side of the Subaru and the pair made slight con­tact, but the hold up for the Scot was enough for Morgan to fancy his chances too. He dived for the in­side of the Honda and con­nected with it, push­ing the orange car side­ways.

That de­layed Shed­den and Morgan was through by Agos­tini and it served to con­certina up the queue be­hind as the Honda re­gained mo­men­tum. Af­ter argy-bargy go­ing in to Og­gies, Neal leapt up to fourth be­hind Morgan, with Plato fend­ing off Col­lard for fifth.

Turk­ing­ton (cen­tre) won the open­ing event

Col­lard lost out in race three, but took points lead

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