The fifth meeting of the season was held at Croft over the weekend of June 27th and 28th. Nobody could predict how this weekend was going to turn out. The BMW’s are usually one of the strong cars around the Yorkshire circuit. This for sure would be a weekend the spectators would love as anything could happen around the tight circuit. Also this weekend saw Nicolas Hamilton, he piloted the AMD Tuning Audi S3. Soon the fans were surprised when Sam Tordoff qualified on pole for race one with his teammate Andy Priaulx in second. Third was Gordon Shedden, fourth went to the third of the BMW’s in the hands of Rob Collard and fifth went to Colin Turkington. Matt Neal qualified sixth followed by Rob Austin in seventh, eighth went the way of Jack Goff in his MG6, ninth was Adam Morgan and rounding out the top ten was Andrew Jordan in the second of the MG’s. Jason Plato entered the weekend in the lead of the championship but only managed to qualify in twelfth.
Race one saw Tordoff line up on pole with Andy Priaulx alongside and Gordon Shedden and Rob Collard behind. Would the rear wheel drives get the advantage off the line or would Shedden fire past all of them? Nobody could predict the start. Tordoff managed to get a perfect start and was leading into Clervaux, by lap three he had a 1.4 second lead. On lap six Priaulx had his chance to challenge for the lead. Tordoff was looking for grip on the circuit after the rain shower and slid at the chicane, all four wheels left the circuit. Andy Priaulx took over the lead of the race, Tordoff rejoined in second and Collard followed them in third using the soft tyre. Everyone feared using the soft tyres on the Yorkshire circuit but Rob Collard, Colin Turkington, Jack Goff, Rob Austin, Martin Depper, Warren Scott, Jason Plato and Andy Wilmot got them out of the way by using them in race one. Collard was fortunate that his tyres only began to go off two laps from the end of the race. Shedden had to endure having 66kg of success ballast on board his Honda Civic Type R, he had a pretty lonely race after Rob Austin’s soft tyres began to go off and he had to back off of Shedden’s tail. Further down the order there were some good battles going on and a fair few drivers suffering with tyre degradation on the soft tyres and Colin Turkington was suffering with a loss of boost in his Volkswagen CC. Turkington had to work hard to fend off the charging Tom Ingram. Jason Plato had come up with a cunning plan to try and get the fastest lap to get race two pole. After qualifying in a low twelfth place he decided he would pit after the formation lap and wait a lap before heading back onto the circuit on his soft tyres. His plan didn’t work, he only managed to get the third fastest lap.
Andy Priaulx took the win followed by teammate Sam Tordoff in second and the last of the BMW team’s drivers Rob Collard in third. This meant it was a WSR team podium lockout. Fourth place went to Gordon Shedden in his Honda Civic Type R followed by his teammate Matt Neal in fifth, sixth was Andrew Jordan in his Pirtek sponsored MG6 and seventh was Colin Turkington in his Team BMR Volkswagen CC. Eighth went to Speedworks driver Tom Ingram, ninth went to Adam Morgan in his Wix backed Mercedes and rounding out the top ten finishers was Jack Goff in the second of the MG’s.
For race two Tordoff had set the fastest lap which meant he started on pole again. Teammate Andy Priaulx had put in the second fastest lap, followed by Plato lining up third and Shedden lining up fourth. Fifth on the grid was Colin Turkington, sixth was Rob Collard, seventh Rob Austin and eighth on the grid was Tom Ingram. Ninth went the way of Hunter Abbott and tenth was Aron Smith. Andrew Jordan had only put in a quick enough lap to start in eleventh, Matt Neal started thirteenth and Goff started fourteenth. The top half of the grid was a mix of top drivers and the usually mid pack drivers. This race was shaping up to be an exciting one.
Off the line and Tordoff got a good start and entered Clervaux in the lead of the race, two and a half laps into the race and Plato lunged down the inside of Andy Priaulx’s BMW machine as they entered Tower, this allowed him to take second place from Priaulx. Turkington also gained advantage from Plato’s move as it allowed him to outdrag Priaulx on the run into the Jim Clark Esses. Plato was unable to close the gap between him and Tordoff but couldn’t shake off Turkington at the same time. Tordoff was 2.8 seconds clear in the lead, Plato in second, Turkington in third and Priaulx following the BMR duo round in fourth. Behind them was Rob Collard and Gordon Shedden, Shedden lunged up the inside of Collard as the pair entered Tower on lap eleven and the two exited and powered out of the corner side by side and swerved into one another. The two bravely entered the Jim Clark Esses side by side, Shedden ultimately emerged ahead to take fifth on the road. Rob Austin was able to close up on the pair after their scuffle to take seventh place, his season best thus far. Race two saw Tom Ingram, Andrew Jordan, Dave Newsham, Derek Palmer and Jeff Smith all come out on soft tyres. Two laps from the end of the race Josh Cook made heavy impact with a tyre barrier, fortunately Cook was cleared of injury but the car was looking worse for wear. The question on most fan’s lips…would the Power Maxed Racing team manage to get the car repaired in time for race three?
Sam Tordoff took the victory in his Gard X Protection sponsored BMW followed by Team BMR’s duo of Jason Plato and Colin Turkington to take second and third. Andy Priaulx took fourth followed by Gordon Shedden in fifth and Rob Collard in sixth. Seventh was Rob Austin to take his season best result, eighth went the way of Tom Ingram and ninth went to Adam Morgan. Rounding out the top ten finishers was Jack Goff.
Race three’s reversed grid saw Rob Collard promoted onto pole position with Gordon Shedden alongside. Andy Priaulx lined up third with Colin Turkington alongside in fourth place. Fifth was Jason Plato, sixth was Sam Tordoff and seventh was Rob Austin. Eighth on the grid was Tom Ingram, ninth was Adam Morgan and tenth was Jack Goff. For race three Priaulx, Shedden, Tordoff, Neal, Aron Smith, Aiden Moffat, Josh Cook, Hunter Abbott, Simon Belcher, Max Coates, Dan Welch, Nic Hamilton, Adam Morgan, Stewart Lines and Alex Martin all headed out to compete on soft tyres. Kieran Gallagher and Mike Bushell both didn’t start race three due to engine issues.
Collard got a good start but on lap three of the race Shedden lunged up the inside to take the lead of the race, he then began pulling away from Collard in second. However, Collard didn’t worry because Shedden was on soft compound tyres which would eventually begin going off. On lap twelve Collard was all over the back of the Honda in the hands of Shedden, he made his move as they entered the tricky right hander of Hawthorns. Priaulx also managed to dive past Shedden on the last lap, he did so after Shedden had a slide at the Complex because of having no grip on his tyres. Rob Collard took the win followed by teammate Andy Priaulx and Gordon Shedden rounded out the podium. Colin Turkington took fourth followed by Jason Plato who finished fifth. Sixth went to Sam Tordoff, seventh was Tom Ingram and Jack Goff finished eighth. Ninth went to Matt Neal and rounding out the top ten finishers of the race was Warren Scott. Alex Martin took the Jack Sears Trophy for the weekend although it was Josh Cook leading the overall points. Turkington left Croft leading the independents trophy while Gordon Shedden left leading the overall driver’s championship points.
© Fay Tilley 17th January 2016