Turkington bounces back in front of Knockhill bumper crowd

Sitting forlornly in the turn two gravel trap in race one, Colin Turkington must have been thinking the worst for his championship bid. But despite being punted off by Jason Plato, the Ulsterman recovered brilliantly to maintain his points lead as the series heads into the remaining three weekends. The biggest crowd in Scotland for fifteen years was treated to three different winners – their firsts of the season – in Matt Neal (Honda), Mat Jackson (Motorbase) and Rob Collard (WSR).

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Although topping the time sheets in practice and qualifying, Turkington would not start from pole position. The BMW driver carried over an eight-place grid drop after a penalty from the previous round at Snetterton. It was thus MG’s Sam Tordoff who would lead the field off the line in race one from the somewhat Knockhill specialist these days, Audi’s Rob Austin.

Race One

Tordoff led off the line as Austin’s rear wheel drive Audi surprisingly did not make the lightning start many had predicted, especially given the steep incline of the Scottish circuit. A relatively subdued (for Knockhill) first lap saw the MG with a slender lead from Austin while defending champion Andrew Jordan led the Honda Yuasa pairing of Matt Neal and home favourite Gordon Shedden. This leading group of five remained within a hair’s breadth of each other as the race approached half distance. Shedden showed more pace than Austin in front of him and the Audi driver would inevitably pay for its lack of it. Coming out of Clark’s the Honda just clipped the rear of the Audi, sending Austin onto the grass and dropping to fifth.

Shedden, now up to second was hounded by Jordan into the hairpin and the pair ran side by side up the main straight, into turn one. As Jordan ran wide in One, Shedden tried to make his move. But just as he did, he clipped Jordan on the rear and spun round. Heading backwards and hitting Jordan, the reigning champion’s rear suspension broke instantly. “Flash” carried on but dropped to 4th behind Neal and Austin.

Further behind, a storm was brewing between Turkington, Plato and Jackson. For several laps, Turkington harried the back of Plato; bumping regularly at the hairpin. The BMW finally got alongside the 2011 champion but ran wide at turn one. As the crocodile piled into Scotsman, Plato turned in, shoving Turkington into the gravel and out of the race. Cue imminent safety car and neutralised field. Before that though, Matt Neal took Tordoff for the lead on entry to Clark. Tordoff pulled off at the chicane with a mechanical issue just as the safety car was about to pull in. Neal then led Austin and the recovering Shedden to take his first victory of the season and with the new Honda Civic Tourer.

Race Two

Race two was no less dramatic and it started from the moment the lights went out. And it involved Shedden once more, much to the home fans’ dismay. Neal made a good initial getaway – a getaway put down to a jump start – though Austin pulled alongside. The Audi then ran wide at turn one and in an almost carbon copy of the Plato/Turkington incident of race one, tipped Shedden into another spin at the same corner. He recovered to finish 12th, but Jack Goff was not so fortunate. He was T-boned by a spinning Warren Scott; suffering substantial damage, he did well to finish 17th.

As in the opening race, there was a leading quintet, this time with the Mercedes of Adam Morgan impressing in fifth place, hanging on well with the leaders. The leaders were Jackson, Plato and Austin; they were involved in a ding dong battle with Jackson emerging the winner for the first time in 2014. “Awesome, it’s been a long time coming and we’ve struggled a bit, but this weekend the car’s been awesome” said Jackson post race.

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Charging through the field, Turkington made a miraculous recovery. Having started from a lowly 27th place – the only downside to a bumper grid in 2014 – he scythed his way through car after car, on a short circuit notorious for its overtaking difficulties. He eventually finished a very respectable 4th place behind Austin, Plato and Jackson. A few more laps and it could have been a podium but the Northern Irishman was quite content with the points he secured.

Race Three

Suddenly, things started to look rather rosy for WSR and BMW. Nick Foster led away from pole position from Motorbase’s Fabrizio Giovanardi. The Italian former double champion would quickly fall down the field after succumbing to pressure from both Dave Newsham and Rob Collard. Collard would soon get passed the Inverness based driver and quickly take the lead a few laps later. With Newsham also getting past Foster, he was forced to defend heavily for the remainder of the race. Foster and Turkington swapped places in a bid to boost his championship leading team-mate’s points and they teamed up to hound Newsham to the flag.

Newsham was the driver of the race and held off the immense pressure to finish an incredible second; the first podium for the AMD team. Elsewhere, podium finishers from race two, Plato and Austin collided at the hairpin with Austin’s suspension breaking immediately.

However, at the front it was Rob Collard who remained in the lead till the end. Surprisingly it was Collard’s first victory in the BTCC since the corresponding round in 2012. Turkington, having recovered to finish third maintains his championship lead from Shedden – by 23 points – and Plato. The championship now heads to Rockingham in two weeks time where battle resumes on the Northants speedway.

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BTCC Championship Standings

1 Colin Turkington eBay Motors 309
2 Gordon Shedden Honda Yuasa Racing 286
3 Jason Plato MG KX Clubcard Fuel Save 270
4 Rob Collard eBay Motors 220*
5 Andrew Jordan Pirtek Racing 217
6 Mat Jackson Airwaves Racing 207
7 Matt Neal Honda Yuasa Racing 190
8 Sam Tordoff MG KX Clubcard Fuel Save 143
9 Aron Smith Chrome Edition Restart Racing 133
10 Adam Morgan WIX Racing 126
11 Rob Austin Exocet Racing 103
12 Alain Menu Chrome Edition Restart Racing 96
13 Fabrizio Giovanardi Airwaves Racing 91*
14 Jack Goff RCIB Insurance Racing 88
15 Tom Ingram Speedworks Motorsport 87
16 Nick Foster eBay Motors 76
17 Dave Newsham AmDTuning.com 58
18 Marc Hynes Quantel Bifold Racing 32*
19 Glynn Geddie United Autosports 15
20 Hunter Abbott Alcosense Breathalysers Racing 12
21 Jack Clarke Crabbie’s Racing 10
22 Martin Depper Pirtek Racing 9
23 Lea Wood Houseman Racing 6
24 Warren Scott Chrome Edition Restart Racing 5*
25 James Cole United Autosports 5
26 Robb Holland Rotek Racing 1

Images: http://www.btcc.net and https://www.flickr.com/photos/derekyoung75/
Results: http://www.btcc.net

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