On the 9th and 10th of May the British Touring Car Championship was at Thruxton for the third meeting of the season. At Thruxton they use a completely different compound of tyre due to the amount of wear they have to be able to take around the Hampshire circuit. What surprises would this weekend hold?
During the qualifying session Aron Smith managed to put his Team BMR Volkswagen CC onto pole, with Gordon Shedden alongside in second. Third was Matt Neal, fourth was Adam Morgan in his WIX backed Mercedes. Fifth went the way of Andy Priaulx in his IHG sponsored BMW, sixth was the second Team BMR VW CC of Jason Plato. Jack Goff took seventh in his MG6 followed by Josh Cook in his Chevrolet Cruze in eighth. Ninth was Colin Turkington and Rob Collard rounded out the top ten. There is one memory from Thruxton that nobody could ever forget! That was the disastrous crash during qualifying of Mike Bushell and Simon Belcher, ending with Mike being taken to a nearby hospital after the medics believed he had broken his femur. When examined at the hospital, doctors found out it was severe ligament damage he had sustained and not any broken bones. Meanwhile Belcher walked away unharmed. Bushell was sidelined due to the injury and Belcher’s car wouldn’t be fixed in time. Alex Martin was already absent from the weekend. Dan Welch also had to pull out of the rest of the weekend after a suspension failure caused him to crash the Proton during free practice. The grid was down to 25 cars to compete for the rest of the weekend.
Aron Smith started on pole position but got a bad start after being bogged down with wheel spin at the start. When Smith pulled onto the pole position grid slot, he realised he couldn’t see the lights because of his sun strip, so he loosened his belts to be able to lean forward to see the lights, as he pulled away he fell back into the seat which meant his foot slipped off the clutch which caused him to wheel spin. Shedden made the most of Smith’s mistake and managed to break away from the pack during lap one. He manged to pull a gap of 1.3 seconds and then was trying to preserve his tyres. On lap four Smith’s left front tyre gave way, after an off he straight away re-joined and headed back to the pit lane for a new tyre. Therefore Morgan jumped up to third place. Priaulx suffered with locking up the brakes on his BMW after flat spotting his tyres early on in the race. Gordon Shedden crossed the line to take the win, his team mate Matt Neal took second, third and rounding out the podium was Adam Morgan. Fourth was Jason Plato, fifth was Andy Priaulx and sixth was Andrew Jordan. Seventh was Colin Turkington, eighth was Jack Goff after battling different issues during the race. Ninth was Josh Cook, tenth was Tom Ingram.
For race two it was Jason Plato starting on pole with Rob Collard alongside. Third on the grid was Adam Morgan with Gordon Shedden alongside, followed by Andy Priaulx and Aron Smith. Jeff Smith surprised the fans by setting the seventh fastest lap to start seventh on the grid for race two. Eighth was Josh Cook followed by Matt Neal in ninth and Jack Goff rounded out the top ten.
With Rob Collard lining up alongside Jason Plato, both known to get pretty good starts from the front row. The question on everybody’s lips was ‘who will get the best start and get to the corner first?’ The answer to that question was clear pretty quickly. Plato fended Collard off on the start but couldn’t hold the lead as they exited the first corner. Behind the lead pair chaos occurred, Priaulx diced up the gap between Morgan and Shedden and the trio went into the corner side by side. Shedden was on the outside and narrowly avoided the contact, meanwhile Adam Morgan’s Mercedes on the inside line made contact with the rear of Priaulx’s BMW. This caused Andy Priaulx to spin on the exit of the corner. Jeff Smith and Josh Cook were both forced to take to the grass in avoiding action, this prompted the teams to call the cars in to check them over. Warren Scott and Tom Ingram also pitted. Through all the chaos happening Shedden slotted into third followed by Aron Smith and Matt Neal with Jack Goff and Colin Turkington following them.
Jason Plato started attempting to pass Collard for the lead of the race. He unsettled the BMW by using a tow to get a run up to the chicane and made the pass stick, the two ran nose to tail for the remainder of the race. Neal tried to pass Smith as they entered the Complex on lap seven but he tried the pass from quite a way back, Smith turned in for the corner and the two collided. Neal did however apologise for the incident after the race, but the clerk of the course issued Neal with a verbal reprimand for the incident. Neal retired from the race, Goff moved up to fourth. Smith dropped down the order due to his car being damaged, finishing in eleventh at the flag. First across the line to take the win was Jason Plato with Rob Collard close behind in second. Third was Gordon Shedden with Jack Goff close behind to take fourth. Fifth was Colin Turkington, sixth was Sam Tordoff, and seventh was Andrew Jordan. Eighth was Adam Morgan and ninth was Rob Austin. Rounding out the top ten was Aiden Moffat in his Laser Tools Racing Mercedes-Benz A-Class.
Race three saw Adam Morgan start from pole for the reversed grid race. He got a blinding start off the line and managed to get a 0.5 second lead during the first few laps of the race. Morgan proved his talent by maintaining the lead even after a mid-race safety car restart. Andrew Jordan followed Morgan throughout the race and stood his ground for second. Tordoff was still complaining that his BMW machine was lacking in straight line speed. There were a lot of battles going on throughout the pack during the race. After six laps Warren Scott retired his Volkswagen CC, on the following lap Stewart Lines retired his Toyota Avensis too. On lap eleven Martin Donnelly retired in his Infiniti Q50. Four laps from the flag, Jeff Smith retired his Honda Civic.
Adam Morgan went on to take the well-deserved win in his Mercedes-Benz A-Class, Andrew Jordan took second in his Pirtek sponsored MG6, third went to Sam Tordoff in his Garde X Protection BMW. Fourth was Colin Turkington, the top four starters ended in the same positions as they began the race in. Fifth went to Gordon Shedden, sixth was Matt Neal, seventh was Jason Plato. Eighth went to Aron Smith and ninth went to Josh Cook. Rounding out the top ten finishers was Tom Ingram.
When the trucks pulled out of the circuit to go home Gordon Shedden was leading the overall driver’s championship and Turkington was still leading the Independents trophy. Josh Cook was also still leading the Jack Sears Trophy points.
© Fay Tilley 7th January 2016