Matt Simpson, Colin Turkington and Rob Collard took a win apiece as the Dunlop MSA British Touring Car Championship served up a scintillating three races at Oulton Park this past weekend (June 9/10).
In searing temperatures and a bumper crowd, Britain’s premier racing series saw three different drivers scaled the top step of the podium - taking the 2018 tally to nine victory from 12 races.
Qualifying saw history made as Simpson set a new lap record on his way to his first-ever BTCC pole position. Firing a warning shot in free practice after setting the pace, the Simpson Racing driver backed-up his front-running pace by setting a blistering time of 1:25.750 around the 2.23 mile Cheshire venue - a lap that would was ultimately never bettered.
Motorbase Performance also enjoyed a strong qualifying session as Sam Tordoff pipped team-mate Tom Chilton to second place whilst BMW Pirtek Racing’s Andrew Jordan rounded out the top four.
As the lights went out for the opening encounter of the weekend, Simpson launched his Honda Civic Type R into a lead that he ultimately would never lose. Controlling the pace, Simpson delivered a measured drive and despite coming under late pressure in the closing stages, he had enough in hand to score a popular breakthrough triumph.
Behind Simpson was the Motorbase Performance Ford Focus RS of Tom Chilton, who bagged his and the teams maiden rostrum finish of the year. The former Independents champion resisted a near race-long challenge from the BMW of Andrew Jordan to keep second place as Jordan capped the podium.
Unfortunately for Simpson he was unable to see if he could replicate his race one performance, forced to instead watch on from the sidelines as his race-winning machine underwent an engine change.
With everyone moving up a spot on the grid, Chilton blasted away from pole position and held off the early advances of Jordan as the field filed down The Avenue into Dentons. Further back there was action aplenty as Dan Cammish, Josh Cook, Aiden Moffat and Ashley Sutton were all caught up in an incident, Moffat and Cammish coming off worse out of the four.
Back at the front however all eyes were on Turkington as he made up places in no time at all, soon surging into second place. Producing a textbook pass on Chilton into Lodge corner, the double champion powered his BMW into the distance and on to an emotional first win of the season for both himself and West Surrey Racing.
Halfords Yuasa Racing’s Matt Neal slipped past Chilton at Old Hall a couple of laps later but was unable to catch Turkington, settling for second whilst Chilton bagged a second podium of the day.
Race three saw Rob Austin drawn on pole position but there was to be drama further back as a multi-car accident brought the red flag out immediately. Coming together with Mike Bushell, the quartet of Tom Oliphant, Rory Butcher, Daniel Lloyd and Chris Smiley all saw their races come to a premature end - with substantial damage bestowing all of them.
On the restart, Austin was powerless to stop fellow front row starter Rob Collard from getting the jump on him off the line, setting into second place behind the West Surrey Racing pilot. Building up an early advantage, Collard soon gapped the Alfa Romeo driver and stamped his authority on the race.
Austin had looked on course for a second podium of the season but cruel fate was to strike as he slowed, forcing him to retire to the pits. That left West Surrey Racing to pick up a famous 1-2-3 finish as Jordan and Turkington followed Collard to a mammoth haul of silverware.
As a result of the weekend’s three races, Turkington leaves Oulton Park as the championship leader, 12 points ahead of Adam Morgan and Jack Goff.
For the full classification of results from all BTCC sessions over the course of the weekend, click here.
The Dunlop MSA British Touring Car Championships heads to North Yorkshire next with Croft playing host to rounds 13, 14 and 15 on June 23/24 - marking the traditional halfway point of the season.
Advance tickets for the fifth meeting of the 2018 campaign are available until June 14, priced at just £11 for Saturday, £24 for Sunday and £33 for the full weekend. Head to the Croft Circuit website for more information.