The seventh meeting of the 2015 season took place at Knockhill in Scotland. This is the one round of the championship that does not take place in England. Aiden Moffat fans were waiting to find out if Aiden would be deemed fit enough to race, which he was. The main thing people were waiting to see was if the Honda Yuasa Racing duo had a disaster weekend like they did at Snetterton or if they would be successful at Shedden’s home circuit. The Honda’s and BMW’s are usually the good cars around the circuit whilst cars like the Volkswagen CC’s usually struggle.
During the qualifying session the BMW’s dominated the time sheets, only being split by a Motorbase Ford Focus. Andy Priaulx put his IHG Rewards sponsored BMW onto pole position followed by Sam Tordoff in his Gard X Protection backed BMW, both BMW’s run by West Surrey Racing. Third place was taken by Mat Jackson in the first Motorbase Ford Focus. Fourth was the third and final West Surrey Racing BMW in the hands of Rob Collard. Fifth on the time sheets was Gordon Shedden in the first of the Honda Yuasa Racing Civic Type R’s, sixth was Rob Austin in his Audi A4. Seventh was taken by the second Honda Civic Type R run by Honda Yuasa Racing in the hands of Matt Neal. Eighth was Andrew Jordan in his Pirtek sponsored MG6 and ninth was taken by Colin Turkington in his Team BMR Volkswagen CC. Rounding out the top ten in the qualifying session was Adam Morgan in his Wix backed Mercedes-Benz A-Class. During the session Matt Jackson, Warren Scott and Hunter Abbott all had their fastest laps removed after exceeding track limits.
Priaulx got a good start and managed to reach the top of Duffus Dip first. At the end of the opening lap Jackson fired his ford focus past Priaulx at the hairpin. Four laps later and Jackson had a 2.7 second lead over second place. The safety car was brought out a few laps later to allow marshals to collect debris off the circuit after an incident in the middle of the pack, this allowed Priaulx to close back up on Jackson whilst the safety car was on track for one lap. On lap 17 the soft tyres on Jacksons car began to fall off. At the end of lap 19 priaulx attempted to out-drag jackson away from the hairpin on the outside line. Jackson defended the best anyone had seen and pushed Priaulx right to the edge of the track, which resulted in Priaulx hitting and collecting some of the marker boards at the side of the track. This made Priaulx drop back to third, behind teammate Rob Collard. On the next lap Collard got up the inside of Jackson as they went along the start finish straight and out-dragged him to the corner to take the lead of the race.
Rob Collard took the win in his Gard X Protection backed BMW followed by Matt Jackson in his Motorbase Ford Focus. Third and rounding out the podium was Andy Priaulx in the second of the BMWs, fourth went to the third and final West Surrey Racing BMW in the hands of Sam Tordoff. Fifth went to Gordon Shedden in the first of the Honda Civic Type R’s and sixth went to teammate Matt Neal in the sister car. Seventh went to Rob Austin in his Exocet and Alcosense backed Audi A4 and eighth went the way of Andrew Jordan in his Pirtek backed MG6. Ninth was Adam Morgan in his WIX backed Mercedes and rounding out the top ten was Colin Turkington in his Team BMR Volkswagen CC.
With race two’s grid being determined by the fastest laps in race one nobody could tell who would qualify where for the second encounter. Mat Jackson qualified on pole position with Gordon Shedden alongside in second, third was Rob Austin, fourth went to Rob Collard and fifth went to Andrew Jordan. Sixth went to Sam Tordoff, seventh was Colin Turkington with teammate Jason Plato alongside in eighth. Ninth went to Andy Priaulx and rounding out the top ten on the grid was Matt Neal. Nobody could predict how race two would go with so many competitive people in the top ten.
Jackson got another brilliant start to the race and got to the first corner ahead followed by Shedden, the pair managed to get away from the pack as Collard and Austin were battling close for third place. Austin stood his ground on the outside line and didn’t let his nerves get the better of him as the pair headed down to McIntyres, the Audi succeeded and came out in front. As Shedden and Jackson exited the chicane and headed into Clark’s Shedden managed to shoot past the Ford Focus. By lap 11 Shedden had gained a 6 second lead because the battle behind between Austin and Jackson was heating up. Time and time again Austin attempted to level up with Jackson as they powered out the hairpin and every single time the Focus would come out on top. This allowed collard to close in too. Shedden had this hard work undone when the safety car came out on lap 11. When the safety car went back into the pit lane Shedden managed to get the restart he needed to keep the lead. On lap 19 Collard attempted to go alongside Austin through Duffus Dip but when they approached the Chicane Austin lost it and went into the gravel. On the last lap of the race Collard pounced on Jackson and managed to overtake him to take second. Andrew Jordan and Sam Tordoff had an early altercation during the race, the BMW pulled ahead as the two entered Duffus and as Jordan started to fight back the duo made contact. The contact resulted in Tordoff having to pit to allow the team to make repairs to the car. After ten laps of the race Andy Priaulx had contact with Turkington, the hit was so severe it broke Turkington’s suspension and he headed into the pits to retire.
Gordon Shedden took the victory followed by Rob Collard, rounding out the podium was Mat Jackson. Fourth place went to Andrew Jordan, fifth was Andy Priaulx and sixth was Rob Austin. Seventh went to Jason Plato, eighth went to Matt Neal and ninth went to Aiden Moffat. Tenth and rounding out the top ten finishers was Adam Morgan.
The third encounter of the weekend was the reversed grid race. The reversed grid saw Adam Morgan promoted onto pole position with teammate Aiden Moffat alongside. Third on the grid was Matt Neal with Jason Plato alongside in fourth, fifth was Rob Austin followed by Andy Priaulx in sixth. Seventh was Andrew Jordan, eighth was Mat Jackson and ninth was Rob Collard. Rounding out the top ten from the reversed grid race was Gordon Shedden.
Morgan got a good start off the line and had built up a 2.5 second lead over the first 16 laps of the race. Things were going really well for Morgan until he came around a bend to find someone’s rear bumper sitting in the middle of the track, he couldn’t avoid it and it wrapped around the front of his Mercedes. The team were straight onto the radio to Morgan to warn him to watch his engine temperature, Morgan was more worried that the bumper may have slid under the car and taken the braking and steering ability away. By taking it easy into the next corner he lost a second, which allowed Matt Neal to close up on him and get past to take the lead of the race. Moffat was running comfortably in third when Priaulx made a forceful move as the pair went through Duffus and into McIntyre to overtake the young Scottish driver.
At the flag Matt Neal took the win followed by Morgan to take second. Third place was taken by Priaulx and Moffat crossed the line in fourth. However, there was some controversy about the move Priaulx made to take third as it was done as yellow flags were brought out. The officials decided afterwards that Moffat was reinstated in third as the move was seen to be made under yellow flags. Priaulx got fourth, Rob Austin took fifth and Jason Plato took sixth. Seventh went to Andrew Jordan, eighth went to Gordon Shedden, ninth to Mat Jackson and rounding out the top ten finishers was Martin Depper.
As they left the Fife circuit Jason Plato was leading the Overall Driver’s championship by 11 points from Gordon Shedden. Colin Turkington was leading the Independent’s Trophy by 3 points from Jason Plato and Josh Cook was leading the Jack Sears Trophy by 119 points from Stewart Lines.
© Fay Tilley 14th February 2016