The second round of the British Touring Car Championship took place at Donington Park on the 18th and 109th of April. Once again nobody knew what to expect during this race meeting.
Although, it seemed to go back to ‘normality’ as Colin Turkington put his Volkswagen CC on pole position, with Gordon Shedden in his Honda Civic Type R alongside in second. Jason Plato was next in third place. One surprise that did occur was Adam Morgan putting his Mercedes-Benz A-Class into fourth place. Andrew Jordan was happier after putting his MG6 machine into fifth place during the qualifying session. Another surprise was Josh Cook placing his Chevrolet Cruze in sixth, next was Matt Neal not qualifying so well to take seventh. Eighth place was Sam Tordoff in his BMW, ninth was taken by Aiden Moffat. Rounding out the top ten was Dave Newsham in the second of the Power Maxed Racing Chevrolet Cruze’s.
Everyone knew that there would be sparks fly between Jason Plato and Colin Turkington, it only took until the first turn into Redgate to prove that. Colin Turkington took the inside line to cover Jason Plato. During this race Turkington was carrying 33kg of weight and Plato was ballast free and sitting right behind him. Whilst Turkington was covering the inside line from Plato, Gordon Shedden attempted to drive around the outside of both of them. In an attempt to retain track position Plato chose to brake as late as he possibly could, but because of Turkington being right in front the pair touched under braking and were lucky to make it round the bend. They managed to come out the corner ahead of any other car, on the run out of McLeans the extra weight Turkington was carrying allowed Jason Plato to get a run on Turkington as they went into Coppice and took the lead.
A lap later Gordon Shedden lunged down the inside of Turkington as they entered the Old Hairpin, whilst the Irishman was struggling with cold tyres. At this point Plato had already built up a 1.5 second lead from the pair, Shedden fought off Turkington all the way to the flag even after running wide at McLeans with 3 laps to go. Jason Plato took the win, followed by Shedden in second and Turkington in third. Following Turkington home with a respectable amount of distance between them was Andrew Jordan, who was still frustrated with the handling of his MG6. Jordan was put under pressure early in the race by Adam Morgan, but on lap three he locked his brakes up and dropped back on his soft tyres.
Meanwhile Matt Neal had 66kg of weight on board, he also had soft tyres on. He ran in fifth place early in the race but then when the tyres began to go off on lap seven he began dropping back the order and finished the race in seventeenth. With Neal struggling and dropping down the order it allowed Sam Tordoff to climb up through to fifth by the time the flag came out, although he came under immense pressure from Dave Newsham in the latter stage of the race. Rob Collard started the race in nineteenth, managed to fight his way up through the heavy ballasted cars to finish in eighth place. Rob was set to take seventh but a long battle with Jack Goff, who was carrying 66kg of ballast on board, came to an end when Goff pipped him to the line with just 0.035 seconds between the two. It was an amazing performance from Goff, who had suffered gear selection problem earlier in the race. Adam Morgan finished in ninth with Rob Austin rounding out the top ten finishers.
Race two’s new grid system put Gordon Shedden on pole position with Colin Turkington alongside, followed by Adam Morgan in third and Jason Plato in fourth. Fifth on the grid was Andrew Jordan, alongside him was his teammate Jack Goff, seventh was Matt Neal and eighth was Rob Collard. Ninth place was Dave Newsham and Aiden Moffat rounded out the top ten.
Gordon Shedden got a bad start after suffering with a lot of wheelspin, which slowed him down. Meanwhile Turkington got the perfect start which allowed him to get to the right hander before Shedden. Jordan managed to shoot up past Shedden on lap two after Shedden had a big wobble through the Craner Curves. It only took ten laps before Shedden’s tyres began to go off and he began to fall down the order drastically. Adam Morgan snatched third by darting up the inside of Shedden at the Chicane, he was soon right up on the tail of Andrew Jordan. Everyone’s eyes were on Matt Neal after his disastrous race one, this time he was ballast free and on the harder compound tyres. Neal started the race in seventh place and instantly off the start began hunting down the drivers in front, one by one he picked the off until he was into fourth place. He then benefited from Adam Morgan and Andrew Jordan getting tangled with one another on lap thirteen of the race.
After their initial clash, which occurred at Redgate, things began heating up for the trio at the Chicane at the end of the lap. Morgan managed to pass Jordan as they exited Coppice and the MG was slowed down, this allowed Neal to get alongside of Jordan. He then got side by side with Morgan into the switch back and they both ran wide on the exit, this allowed Jordan to get back through into second. Neal managed to exit ahead of Morgan, by the end of the next lap Neal had managed to pass Jordan to take second place once again. Jordan was unable to fend off Morgan during lap seventeen, Morgan pushed his way past to take the third spot on the podium.
Shedden took the win in his Honda Civic Type R, his teammate Neal took second in the sister car, Morgan took third in his Ciceley Racing Mercedes-Benz A-Class and Andrew Jordan took a fourth in his Pirtek backed MG6. Jason Plato took fifth place in his Team BMR Volkswagen CC followed by WSR’s Rob Collard in his Gard X protection sponsored BMW in sixth. Seventh was Josh Cook in the first of the Power Maxed Chevrolet Cruze’s with the sister car in the hands of Dave Newsham in eleventh place. Eighth place was Jack Goff in his Triple Eight Racing run MG6. Ninth was Sam Tordoff in his WSR Gard X protection sponsored BMW. Rounding out the top ten was Andy Priaulx in his IHG Rewards sponsored BMW.
After race two was over, it was time for the reversed grid draw to set the grid for race three. The number that was pulled out was seven, which was Josh Cook, this meant Josh would go up onto pole with Rob Collard alongside. Behind them would be Jason Plato and Andrew Jordan on row two of the grid. Nobody knew what to expect from this race; with rookie Cook on pole, Collard in his rear wheel drive BMW, Jason Plato in third and Andrew Jordan hunting down his first race win in his MG in fourth. This race could have been anyone’s.
Off the line it was Collard and Cook dicing for the lead, Collard got a good start through being on softs so he managed to power away and Cook knew he had to be sharp on the start so also managed to get a good one. Cook managed to get past Rob and into the lead of the race on lap three as they entered the Chicane, the pair managed to race together and get a gap of five seconds separating them to the rest of the pack. A safety car had to be brought out to clear up Tordoff and Goff’s stricken cars and move them out of the gravel trap by the Chicane and into a safe place after the pair came together, the safety car stayed out for four laps. This bunched everyone back up and gave Aron Smith the chance to climb further up the pack of cars. Smith was on a mission to hunt his way through the pack. He had already fought his way from twelfth up to third and on the restart he managed to get the cut back on Collard.
Smith then set on trying to take the lead of the race away from Cook, the two were battling hard when the pair had contact at the Craner Curves. As they went through Hollywood Smith had out-dragged Cook on lap fourteen. Smith moved across to take the line for the left hander, which meant he hit into Cook. Both were thrown onto the grass after the contact and were lucky to not be caught by other competitors as they re-joined. As they did re-join the track Smith’s car hit a bump and was fired into the line of the pack who were dicing for the lead. Collard was back into the lead, Neal had given Jordan a pretty big hit to get past him on lap six of the race earlier on. Triple Eight Racing appealed but Neal’s win stayed after the meeting at Thruxton. On lap sixteen Collard’s tyres dropped off, which let Neal take the inside line into Redgate to take the lead. Jordan followed him through. Shedden managed to pass Collard too. The flag came out and Neal took the win provisionally, with Jordan second followed by Shedden completing the podium. Fourth place was Rob Collard after his soft tyres dropped off. Aiden Moffat took fifth, which allowed him to get on the podium too as he took his first independents win! Aron Smith took sixth and Cook took seventh after their scary excursion off and across the track. They were followed home by Plato, who took eighth, Martin Depper who took ninth and rounding out the top ten was Tom Ingram.
Donington was for sure full of surprises for the spectators. Firstly the second of the Support Our Paras Racing Infiniti Q50’s was out to compete. Each of the three races had a different winner, different second place and third place finisher. Aiden Moffat got his first independents trophy win in race three. Adam Morgan got his first podium in 2015 in race two. Each race’s fastest lap was set by different people. The crazy and scary incident between Josh Cook and Aron Smith will definitely be a memory of Donington’s BTCC event that nobody will ever forget. 2015 was shaping up to be a shocking, surprise filled season with the first two rounds both being filled with amazements. Matt Neal left Donington Park leading the overall championship and Colin Turkington left leading the independents trophy. Josh Cook triumphed in the Jack Sears Trophy and left the weekend leading the points.
© Fay Tilley 6th December 2015.