Updated: Jan 19
After the dust settled on a rather hectic qualifying session, the Kwik Fit British Touring Car Championship battle commenced in front of a packed house at Donington Park in Leicestershire.
The first race of the day proved to be a bit of a hectic one, as Colin Turkington took the lights to flag victory. It wasn't as simple further back, as coming down the Craner Curves on the opening lap, Andrew Jordan was tagged from behind and sent into a spin, which brought him back across the track and into the path of an unfortunate trio of Jake Hill, Adam Morgan and Stephen Jelley. Jordan was injured in the incident and was forced to sit out the rest of the day on medical grounds. The safety car came out to clear the track of the mess and once racing had got back underway, it was Turkington who led and was virtually unchallenged. There was a few early tussles between Ashley Sutton and Tom Oliphant, with the Subaru driver getting the better of the BMW.
Come the end of the race, Turkington crossed the line ahead of Sutton and Oliphant who completed the podium and in the process scored his first in the BTCC. Matt Neal showed strong race pace in the Honda Civic Type R for Team Dynamics in fourth and Tom Ingram impressed with a good early points haul in his Toyota Corolla. Dan Cammish, Chris Smiley, Tom Chilton, Jason Plato and Rob Collard rounded out the top ten runners.
Race two was another interesting encounter and one which was again interrupted by the safety car. Turkington, with full ballast on board, got away well yet again and managed to fend off any challenges going into the first corner. The top ten shuffled around a lot more in this race as Tom Oliphant hit problems and fell down the order, Matt Neal and Ashley Sutton enjoyed a battle for the second spot on the podium with the trio of Chilton, Butcher and Plato all in close proximity.
The two safety car periods would do nothing to trouble the lead BMW driver in his quest for a second win of the day and would take it by just over 2 seconds from the nearest rival Matt Neal, who quietly went about his business on what was a rather chaotic day so far. Sutton completed the podium places with another impressive haul of points, Tom Chilton finished just behind in fourth and Rory Butcher put on a good show in his AMD Tuning Honda Civic in fifth. Power Maxed Racing continued to creep up the order with Jason Plato and Rob Collard coming home in sixth and seventh and Josh Cook, Jake Hill and Tom Ingram rounding out the top ten.
Tom Ingram was drawn on pole for the third and final encounter of day, which again proved to be another interrupted one. Two of the Team Hard VW Passat CC's hit the barriers hard down at the Old Hairpin after some contact mid pack on the opening lap and Jack Goff ran wide down the Craner Curves and was then collected by the unfortunate Nic Hamilton.
The safety car period didn't seem to bother Ingram and the Speedworks squad as he powered off into the distance with scintillating pace. The battle for the final places on the podium were still to be decided however.
Josh Cook and Rob Collard battled with the Power Maxed Racing Vauxhall coming out on top and showing impressive pace to trim down the gap to Ingram. Tom Ingram eventually took the win, which was the first for the new Corolla in the BTCC and in front of over 4000 guests from Toyota, a very pleasing sight for the team.
Collard took a welcome second with Josh Cook holding station in third. Rory Butcher again drove well to come home in fourth with Ashley Sutton capping off his points tally for the day in fifth. Jake Hill drove a brilliant race to finish inside the top six after starting the reverse grid race from the front row with Jason Plato, Adam Morgan, Colin Turkington and Dan Cammish completing the top ten order.
So at the close of play it is Ashley Sutton who leads the way by just three points from BTC Racing's Josh Cook, with Turkington and Chilton a further 2 points back. Honda lead the manufacturers standings after an impressive showing this weekend ahead of Subaru, BMW, Vauxhall and Toyota. Team BMW continue to lead the teams standings ahead of BTC Racing by just a single point and Tom Chilton leads the Independent Drivers Standings ahead of Rory Butcher. BTC Racing lead the Independent Teams standings and Rory Butcher leads the Jack Sears Trophy.