The second meeting of the season took place at Donington Park, located in Derbyshire. Motorbase’s Mat Jackson, West Surrey Racing’s Rob Collard and Halfords Yuasa Racing’s Matt Neal made it six different winners from the opening six races of the season.
Motorbase’s Mat Jackson won the opening race of the weekend after muscling his way between the two MG’s in the hands of Josh Cook and Ashley Sutton, who started on the front row. Pole-sitter Ashley Sutton got bogged down at the start and dropped back to fourth whilst Josh Cook bashed wheels with Jackson but the latter still managed to get through into the lead of the race on the run down to Redgate. Jackson pulled away from the MG of Cook and had built up a lead of more than a second when the race was halfway through. Cook was equally comfortable in second place with teammate Sutton behind in third, who was defending from Speedworks Motorsport’s Tom Ingram. The latter ran side by side with Sutton as they crossed the line to complete lap eleven of the race before he made the move stick through Redgate to claim the final podium place.
The race came to a dramatic conclusion, Matt Simpson and Daniel Welch made some heavy contact at Coppice whilst on the start finish straight James Cole’s Subaru began catching fire, the main fire erupted when he pulled over at the exit of the pit lane to allow marshals to attend to the car. With just one lap remaining and three cars sitting in dangerous positions around the circuit the officials were left with no other option but to red flag the race. Jackson won the race from Cook in second and Ingram in third. West Surrey Racing’s Jack Goff finished the race in fourth ahead of MG RCIB Insurance’s Ashley Sutton in fifth and West Surrey Racing teammate Rob Collard in sixth. Eurotech Racing’s Jeff Smith finished the opening race in seventh ahead of Team BKR’s Aron Smith in eighth. West Surrey Racing’s Sam Tordoff finished in ninth ahead of Team BMR’s Colin Turkington in tenth.
BMW machinery joined Toyota, Honda, Mercedes and Ford among the winners in the BTCC at this point in the season when Rob Collard took the impressive victory in the second race. It was looking very unlikely with Collard starting in sixth. He got a good start and got up into third on the opening lap of the race, having to wait until lap twelve to make more progress as Ingram defended. Collard passed the Toyota with a fair move at the final chicane and immediately began hunting down Jackson who had led from the start of the race. Collard began catching the ballast filled Focus and the two ran side by side through the exit of Coppice during the later stages of the race with Jackson having to concede the place as they headed into the Esses. Jackson held on to take second behind Collard. At one point cars ran four abreast as Tordoff bounced across the gravel before teammate Goff tapped into Ingram on the exit of the chicane. Tordoff slightly lost out while Ingram was shuffled down the order. When the dust had finally settled, it was Aron Smith who took third for Team BKR. Gordon Shedden finished the in fourth with West Surrey Racing’s Jack Goff splitting the two Honda’s in fifth with Matt Neal finishing in sixth. Cook scored some valuable points for the MG team in seventh. Both Cook and Sutton were demoted down the pack. West Surrey Racing’s Sam Tordoff finished the race in eighth ahead of Laser Tools Racing’s Aiden Moffat in ninth and Handy Motorsport’s Rob Austin rounded out the top ten.
In the final race of the weekend Halfords Yuasa Racing took a dominant one-two finish, Neal became the sixth different race winner from the six races. West Surrey Racing’s Sam Tordoff held the lead from pole position, followed by teammate Goff on lap two after he passed Neal’s Honda. Shedden got through to fourth, joining Neal chasing down the BMWs. The BMWs initially drove off into the sunset but both Tordoff and Goff had the difficult task of managing the soft tyres for the race. The race proved to be one of two halves as the drivers on harder compound tyres benefitted from a better performance in the latter stages of the race. Neal managed to slice past Goff at the Old Hairpin on the tenth lap of the race and Shedden followed at Redgate on the next lap. Tordoff tried his hardest to look after his tyres, it soon became clear that he was helpless in stopping the Honda’s going past. Neal passed the BMW on lap fourteen at McLeans. Shedden did a similar move on Tordoff as he did to Goff earlier in the race. The Honda’s drove well to take the Honda one-two at the chequered flag. The BMWs of Tordoff and Collard finished in third and fourth. MG RCIB Insurance’s Ashley Sutton took fifth place ahead of a struggling Jack Goff in sixth. Aiden Moffat finished in seventh in his Laser Tools backed Mercedes, with this position he also took the Independents win for Laser Tools Racing. Handy Motorsport’s Rob Austin finished in eighth ahead of MG’s Josh Cook and Motorbase’s Andrew Jordan in tenth.
Matt Neal and Gordon Shedden left the circuit leading the Drivers’ championship after a weekend of strong results. Goff and Collard made a lot of ground to sit in third and fourth.
Halfords Yuasa Racing left in the lead of the Teams’ championship with Team JCT600 with GardX and Motorbase Performance sitting in second and third after gaining significantly important points during the weekend.
Honda also left on top of the Manufacturers’/Constructors’ championship from West Surrey Racing.
Aron Smith left Donington in the lead of the Independent Drivers’ championship with Motorbase Performance taking over the lead of the Independent Teams’ championship from Team BKR.
Once again Sutton impressed over the weekend and extended his advantage in the Jack Sears Trophy.
After each of the races there were penalties handed out for incidents. After race one Matt Simpson was reprimanded and received two penalty points on his license for an incident with Rob Austin. He was then handed another reprimand and received another two penalty points on his license for another incident involving Daniel Welch. Rob Collard was deemed to have gained an unfair advantage after cutting across the grass at the start of the race, he was given a verbal warning.
After race two Matt Simpson was given a verbal warning after an incident with Kelvin Fletcher, because of this being his third strike of the season he was deducted three points from his Drivers’ Championship points and demoted to the back of the grid for the last race of the weekend.
Nobody was given any penalties after race three.
©Fay Tilley 24th December 2016.