The KwikFit British Touring Car Championship got back underway after a long winter at the Brands Hatch Indy circuit in Kent last weekend and we were all treated to some explosive action on track.
Saturday's qualifying session proved to be in tricky conditions as the weather played its part. Ashley Sutton in his Subaru Levorg mastered the mixed conditions to grab the first pole of the year from the resurgent Jason Plato in his new Vauxhall Astra ran by Power Maxed Racing. Just behind Jason were the WSR trio of Turkington, Jordan and Oliphant in the all new 3-series.
Come Sunday it was again tricky mixed conditions that played a part in race one as the majority of the grid opted for wet tyres in a gamble on the weather which never paid off. On a drying track, the likes of Josh Cook,Jake Hill and Tom Chilton took the gamble on slicks and it paid off as they stormed through the pack producing some excellent overtaking to finish first, second and third respectively. Elsewhere, Plato was penalised for starting over his grid spot and therefore had to take a drive through penalty which all but ended his hopes of a strong opening race and the likes of Aiden Moffat, Bobby Thompson, Stephen Jelley and Rory Butcher had strong showings inside the top ten.
Race two was a similar story with the mixed/greasy conditions with a lot of drivers struggling. The weight was a big factor in this encounter, with the lighter cars surging through the pack. Andrew Jordan produced a fine drive to win and take the first victory for the new BMW 3 Series, Ashley Sutton managed to fend of a 5-car battle for second place in the closing stages to take second ahead of a flying Adam Morgan. Jake Hill in the AMD Audi did well to carry the weight from the first race to claim fourth and another big points haul, meanwhile Tom Ingram gave the new Toyota Corolla a top 5 on its debut weekend, something that will please the Speedworks team. Jelley, Cook, Butcher, Chilton and Proctor rounded out the top ten.
The final encounter of the opening weekend was to be the first completely dry race of the weekend, which finally meant the tyre choices were kept simple. Stephen Jelley produced an incredible start from 5th on the grid and managed to take the lead of the race before the pack reached Druids for the first time. Matt Neal, after a slow start on the soft tyre managed to eventually pick up the pace and challenge Jelley for the lead and was bringing Tom Chilton along for the ride too. Neal slipped past Jelley on lap seven and Chilton shortly followed suit. The top three would be inseparable for the entire encounter, with Chilton eventually getting past Neal on the final corner. Rory Butcher slowly creeped up on the leading trio and got past Jelley towards the end of the race.
At the chequered flag, it was Chilton who would take the win, until it was later deemed that he gained an unfair advantage passing Neal and was given a 5 second penalty, giving the win to Rory Butcher and the AMD squad! Chilton had to settle for second with Jelley in an impressive third.
After an impressive points haul, Josh Cook leads the way after the opening weekend with his team BTC Racing also topping the teams table.
The next round is at Donington Park on the 27th/28th April where the fireworks will continue!