Rounds four, five and six of the 2017 Dunlop MSA British Touring Car Championship season produced another spectacular weekend at Donington Park and now five different winners having scaled the top step of the podium.
Following on from a frenetic season-opener two weeks ago at Brands Hatch where Tom Ingram, Gordon Shedden and Andrew Jordan all won races, the unpredictability continued in Leicestershire.
Qualifying underlined that as Ashley Sutton secured pole position and then subsequently lost it due to an exclusion. That therefore promoted Handy Motorsport to take their first-ever pole position in the BTCC with Rob Austin.
Austin’s aspirations of a win never materialised in race one however when first corner contact pushed him wide and Ingram into an early lead. Carrying substantial ballast, the Toyota driver valiantly held on to top spot before Aiden Moffat picked out the perfect moment to take a lead he would never lose – ultimately taking a maiden BTCC win.
Matt Neal and the recovering Austin joined the Laser Tools Racing driver on the podium, which saw major celebrations taking place.
Due to an on-track incident in another series, the scheduled timetable was pushed back, leaving a significant gap between BTCC encounters.
When the cars did hit the track, Ingram underlined his championship credentials as he became the first driver to win two races this season. Disposing of the ballest-laden Moffat early on, the Speedworks driver set off into the distance to record an impressive victory.
Rounding out the podium with Ingram were the battling duo of Rob Collard and BMR’s Sutton. The Subaru driver put the disappointment of Saturday behind him to surge from 31st to 13th in race one and then from 13th to third in race two.
To cap off the weekend, heavy rain battered the circuit prior to race three, leading many drivers to state that the race shouldn’t have been started in the conditions. That wasn’t to be the case however as the grid did start the race however the red flag was waved before the first lap was to be completed.
Cars littered the circuit, including Honda’s Neal, as they struggled for grip in the wet conditions. Neal’s woe continued however when he was forced to be pushed off the grid after officials ruled he could not compete due to having assistance in getting out of the gravel.
When the race did start it was Gordon Shedden that took the chequered flag on the road ahead of Colin Turkington. Further behind Dave Newsham produced a battling display to hang on to third before losing out to Adam Morgan and Sutton on the final tour.
The drama wasn’t finished however when Shedden’s Type R failed the post-race technical ride-height checks. The Scotsman suffered a big impact on the opening lap of the red-flagged race but managed to continue with damage, it is believed that was the cause of the ride-height failure.
This therefore promoted Team BMW’s Turkington to the stop step with Morgan and Sutton also picking up silverware.
Up next on the calendar is the fastest circuit in the UK, Thruxton, on May 6/7. Before the TOCA paddock arrives to race there, many will descend on the venue this Thursday (20th April) for an exclusive test.