The fifth race meeting of the season took place at Croft circuit, located in North Yorkshire. MG RCIB Insurance’s Ashley Sutton stormed to take his maiden victory in the BTCC during a thrilling race. Team BMR’s Colin Turkington and West Surrey Racing’s Rob Collard also took wins during an exciting race day. Ashley Sutton’s win made it ten different winners in the opening fifteen races during the 2016 season.
During the opening race of the meeting it was Team BMR’s Colin Turkington who led the way home ahead of teammate Jason Plato. This race marked the first ever one two for Subaru in the BTCC. It was a podium full of firsts as Ashley Sutton took his maiden podium in third. Turkington led the race for the whole race, although he had to contend with Plato trying to attack as well as three safety car periods. Also the double champion had to fight off an early attack from Eurotech Racing’s Daniel Lloyd. The youngster made a great start off the line but this left him on the outside of Turkington as they headed into turn one. Lloyd turned in too early and contact occurred, this fired the civic into the gravel and out of the race. Turkington dealt with the three safety car interruptions well, Plato kept him honest throughout after getting a good start. Turkington fended off all attacks from Plato to take the win. Sutton drove extremely well to keep West Surrey Racing’s Jack Goff behind as the latter searched for a way past the MG. It looked like Goff had secured the place only for Sutton to come back and take his first podium in the BTCC. Goff finished in fourth ahead of Motorbase’s Andrew Jordan in fifth. Sixth across the line was RCIB Insurance Racing’s Jake Hill followed by West Surrey Racing’s Rob Collard in seventh. Motorbase’s Mat Jackson finished the race in eighth ahead of Speedworks Motorsport’s Tom Ingram in ninth and Team BKR’s Aron Smith rounding out the top ten.
West Surrey Racing’s Rob Collard took the win in race two after Team BMR’s duo of Colin Turkington and Jason Plato collided whilst battling for the lead of the race. that battle was the main thing that occurred during the race. Plato got a brilliant start and drove around the outside of Turkington into Clervaux to take the lead. Turkington followed and was right on the rear end of his teammate during the opening laps of the race, regaining the lead on lap four at Tower. The two then made contact as they entered the same corner again but half way through the race, sending both cars sliding wide. The West Surrey Racing duo of Goff and Collard watched the incident unfold in front of their eyes. Goff was slightly too close to make the most of the incident but Collard blasted from fourth to first. Once the Subaru’s had straightened up it was Plato in second and Turkington in third. Collard took the victory from Plato in second and Turkington in third. Jack Goff finished the race in fourth. MG’s Ashley Sutton finished in fifth ahead of Motorbase’s Mat Jackson. Tom Ingram took seventh for the Speedworks Motorsport team ahead of West Surrey Racing’s Sam Tordoff in eighth. Andrew Jordan finished in ninth aboard his Pirtek backed Focus ahead of Halfords Yuasa Racing’s Matt Neal in tenth.
The first wet BTCC race since Brands Hatch during 2014 left teams quickly rushing to get the Dunlop wet tyres ahead of the start of the final race of the weekend at the North Yorkshire circuit. Gordon Shedden and Mat Jackson chose to gamble on slicks but the gamble did not pay off. Pole sitter Sam Tordoff got a good start and held off Tom Ingram and Jack Goff during the early stage of the race. Sutton followed behind Turkington’s Subaru in fifth as the rain fell all across the circuit. An early safety car period was required but once the safety car returned to the pit lane, Turkington flew around the outside of Goff at Tower. Sutton made the same move at the next turn to go ahead of the BMW. Sutton tapped the back of Turkington at the Hairpin, moving the Rookie into third. Collard managed to slip past Turkington too. Sutton made his way past Ingram as they approached the Esses, immediately setting out to hunt down Tordoff. A late safety car meant Sutton only had two laps to make a move to pass the BMW of Tordoff, that is exactly what he did on the penultimate lap of the race. The MG was clearly quicker and had better balance than the BMW in the wet conditions. Sutton flew past Tordoff at Sunny and never looked back as he went on to take his maiden victory in the championship. Tordoff held on to second, helping to extend his championship lead. Tom Ingram finished in third ahead of Rob Collard in fourth. Turkington was on the receiving end of contact with Josh Cook, eventually finishing in seventh. Andrew Jordan made the most of the two making contact as he passed both Turkington and Cook to take fifth. Cook finished in sixth ahead of Turkington with Team BKR’s Aron Smith taking eighth. Jack Goff finished the race in ninth ahead of Jason Plato in tenth.
Tordoff left the North Yorkshire circuit in the lead of the Drivers’ championship by twelve points ahead of teammate Rob Collard, rounding off a celebratory weekend for the Team JCT600 with GardX on the 70th anniversary of sponsor JCT600. Matt Neal left the circuit three points further back, whilst Andrew Jordan finished in fourth and Jack Goff in fifth.
West Surrey Racing left Croft with an extended advantage over Honda in the battle for the Manufacturers’/Constructors’ championship.
Team JCT600 with GardX left in the lead of the Teams’ championship.
Andrew Jordan and Motorbase left in the lead of the two Independents’ championships.
Sutton left once again in the lead of the Jack Sears Trophy.
Once again some drivers were handed penalties post race due to incidents. After qualifying Matt Neal was officially reprimanded and given two penalty points for an incident with Rob Collard.
After the opening race Gordon Shedden was officially reprimanded and given two penalty points for an incident with Aiden Moffat. Kelvin Fletcher was also officially reprimanded and received two penalty points for an incident with James Cole.
After race two Kelvin Fletcher was given a verbal warning for an incident with Dan Welch. Handy Motorsport’s Rob Austin was officially reprimanded and given two penalty points for overtaking under yellow flag conditions.
After race three Chris Smiley was officially reprimanded for gaining an unfair advantage during an incident with Jeff Smith.
©Fay Tilley 1st January 2017.