The penultimate round of the BTCC rolled into the flatland of Northamptonshire and the fabled tarmac of Silverstone, and with a weekend with a few stories breaking cover. Nicholas Hamilton will sit out the rest of the season due to Sponsorship issues, which sees his drive being taken over by Michael Caine for the remaining two rounds of the season. Earlier in the week, Sam Tordoff confirmed that he will not contest the remainder of the 2019 BTCC season, Mike Bushell will see out the season in the AMD Honda.
The Saturday saw Jason Plato dominate practice and qualifying, racking up a raft of fastest times and a Pole Position for Race 1 on Sunday. Sunday dawned under threatening skies, the UK being lashed by heavy rain and high winds with a number of weather warnings in place across the country, this didn’t stop the fans flooding into Silverstone and packing out the grandstands.
Race 1 got underway in dry conditions with Plato leading away from pole position into Copse corner, Plato set sail at an alarming pace, something which the Vauxhall Astra has not really shown all year. Long-time rival Matt Neal leapfrogged Chris Smiley and jumped into second placed and desperately gave chase to Plato’s Astra.
Tom Ingram meanwhile, who started form fourth on the grid was rapidly closing in on Matt Neal having also leapfrogged Chris Smiley, the Toyota working well in the low temperatures around Silverstone. Ingram pulled off an audacious move on Matt Neal for second place coming into Brooklands, Ingram then set a blistering pace in pursuit of Plato, setting the fastest lap on the way.
Ingram eventually caught up to Plato and was able to get a run on Plato out of Luffield, carrying the momentum down the old start finish straight and passing Plato into Copse corner, with a bit of gentle door banging in the process.
Further back, championship leader Colin Turkington was in strife as he was dropping down the order with a BMW that wasn’t working well in the cold conditions. Turkington would eventually get caught up in a battle with two other cars, spinning out of Luffield and then having to play catch-up. The other championship protagonist Andrew Jordan also came to grief at Luffield later in the race. Jordan, battling with for eights place with Tom Chilton, rear ended Chilton, punting him out of the way. Jordan was later hit with a 6.6 second time penalty, dropping him to tenth but accruing success ballast for eighth place.
Back at the front, Tom Ingram took a convincing victory in the Toyota Corolla with Jason Plato in second, Chris Smiley in third, Josh Cook in fourth and Tom Oliphant rounding out the top five.
Race 2 would see Ingram start from Pole Position after securing victory in Race 1. Before the Race event got underway there was drama, on the way to the grid on the formation lap Aiden Moffatt’s Inifiniti suddenly lost drive. The reason became apparent as the car was being pushed into the pits as the prop shaft fell off the car and was luckily picked up by a marshal.
The Race began and Ingram was able to make a very strong start, the temperatures had dropped even further at this point and there were now damp spots on the track and the sky darkened by the second. Ingram roared off as the chasing pack bunched up and battles broke out throughout the order. Andrew Jordan & Dan Cammish quickly got to work and started picking their way through the order. Rob Collard slowed as he approached Copse corner, an issue with his Astra saw him bring the car back to the pits and sadly retire.
Dan Cammish meanwhile was putting in a fabulous drive and in a short space of time had clawed his way up to sixth and was applying pressure to Josh Cook. Further back, Andrew Jordan was fighting a losing battle trying to fend off Colin Turkington who would eventually find his way past Jordan at Luffield, Jordan not quite having the pace of Turkington in his identical BMW 330.
On Lap 8, rain started falling and it was at this point that the race would turn into a battle for survival as well as championship points. Jason Plato & Tom Oliphant caught up to leader Tom Ingram, Plato, with his ever forceful driving style nudged Ingram at Brooklands sending him sideways. In perfectly choreographed fashion, Tom Oliphant then tagged Plato sending him sideways, for a few seconds it was strictly come touring cars and Oliphant briefly jumped into the lead before Ingram snuck back into the lead.
As the rain continued to fall and the grip levels fell even quicker with the whole field on slicks, Colin Turkington continued to stealth his way up the order, the inevitable happened in the slippery conditions and it was Adam Morgan who spun under braking into Maggots and got beached in the gravel. The Safety Car was scrambled as a result, though Andrew Jordan, Jason Plato and Dan Cammish duked it out wheel to wheel until the Safety Car boards were shown. Under the safety car, Jordan and Cammish level pegged and in the confusion, Cammish shoulder barged Jordan’s BMW under safety car conditions, post-race this earned Cammish a £1500 fine and his Race Licence endorsed with 3 points.
The Race got back underway on Lap 18, but with the field still on slicks and the weather continuing to worsen, Tom Ingram continued to romp away whilst Colin Turkington slithered his way up to second place. The rest of the field was slipping and sliding and battling for positon, it was a battle for glory and survival all at once. Carl Boardley came to grief at Luffield as he was tagged by Mark Blundell, almost immediately after that the race was red flagged. The track conditions and the entire being on slicks with 4 laps left to run simply being too much of a risk.
The eventual Race winner on countback was once again Tom Ingram with Championship leader Colin Turkington in second, Dan Cammish in third, Jason Plato in fourth and Josh Cook rounding out the top five.
The reverse grid draw would see Nathalie Mcgloin draw Ash Sutton to start from Pole Position for Race 3.
As Race 3 got underway under darkening skies with a slightly damp track surface, Ash Sutton made a strong start, but the straight line speed disadvantage of the Subaru quickly reared its head and for a brief period, Matt Simpson jumped ahead in his FK2 Honda Civic Type R. Simpsons lead would short lived, as contact with Andrew Jordan at Brooklands would spin Simpson into the barriers on Lap 1, game over for Simpson in a bitterly disappointing racing incident. Sutton briefly lead until Josh Cook managed to sneak past Sutton in his newer FK8 Honda.
As the rain started falling more heavily, the field seemed to merge into an enormous rolling mass as everyone battled with one another with virtually no gaps from the leader down to last place. The safety car was eventually scrambled to retrieve Matt Simpsons stricken Honda Civic. During the safety car period, the rain really began to fall and it was Jack Goff who jumped first onto wet tyres with about half the field electing to make the same call over the next few laps. It was Goff who had rolled the dice at the right moment and he had accrued a goodly amount of time over the cars which pitted later to go onto wets.
The rest of the field meanwhile stayed out on slicks, hoping the rain would stop and the race would come back to them. Josh Cook lead the race as the proceedings restarted but it was not quickly becoming a battle for survival on slicks as the wet shod cars were 2-3 seconds a lap quicker and rapidly closing up. Chris Smiley’s Honda Civic expired on lap 12, souring an otherwise decent weekend for Smiley.
Aiden Moffatt meanwhile, also on wet tyres was piling pressure on Jack Goff, both on wets and carving their way through the slick shod cars. Moffatt brought his charge to a premature close when he span at Copse corner allowing Goff to scuttle off up the road. Dan Cammish & Josh Cook duked it out further up the road for third place, but side to side contact at Copse corner would see Cook’s FK8 Civic suddenly snap sideways, then sideways again once he’d straightened the car up. Unfortunately for Cook, it was a broken toe arm on the Civic’s rear suspension which forced Cook out of the race and with it, a decent shot at the championship.
Andrew Jordan & Colin Turkington meanwhile, both on wet tyres waged war with one another, trading placed on almost every corner in the wet conditions. Turkington would eventually sneak past Jordan and the pair would catch Dan Cammish and pass him.
Back at the head of the field, history was made for the plucky Team HARD who took their first ever win in the BTCC with Jack Goff and the team making a very savvy strategy call to switch onto wets. Aiden Moffatt finished in second while Matt Neal rounded out the podium although admitting that he made the switch a little late to wets. Tom Oliphant finished fourth and Tom Chilton rounded out the top five.
Colin Turkington meanwhile had given himself a cushion of 16 points heading into the final round at the Brands Hatch GP loop on October 12th & 13th, giving Andrew Jordan & Dan Cammish a tough old task to take the title. With it all to play for in two weeks, the gloves will well and truly be off for the BTCC Battle Royale with the season finishing where it all began on the rollercoaster that is Brands Hatch, this time on the longer Grand Prix loop.
Race 1 Results
- Tom Ingram
- Jason Plato
- Chris Smiley
- Josh Cook
- Tom Oliphant
Race 2 Results
- Tom Ingram
- Colin Turkington
- Dan Cammish
- Jason Plato
- Josh Cook
Race 3 Results
- Jack Goff
- Aiden Moffatt
- Matt Neal
- Tom Oliphant
- Tom Chilton
- Colin Turkington – 297 points
- Dan Cammish – 281 points
- Andrew Jordan – 280 points
- Josh Cook – 263 points
- Tom Ingram – 236 points