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Rapturous Relief and Dominant Drives at Snetterton

Photo Credit: BTCC.net

Photo Credit: BTCC.net

After what seemed like a lifetime, the BTCC returned with a meteoric bang as the series took on the famous Snetterton circuit. After a blasting into a dominant orbit in qualifying, Turkington and Team BMR translated their Saturday sucesss into a succulent Sunday points haul with two impressive wins. The other big story of the weekend had to be the elation for Goff, who scored his first BTCC win in the final race of the day. While all this was happening, in a truly shocking turn of events Honda were racking up an impressive selection of DNFs…

Race day could not have gotten off to a better start for the BMR boys, who mirrored their impressive qualifying effort into another 1-2-3 in the first race. Like a true champion, Turkington shot into a lead he would never lose. And while chaos reigned in the second race (more on that momentarily) and even with full success ballast on the car, Colin once more blew the field away with a supreme drive from lights to flag. Even in the famously unpredictable reverse grid final race, Turkington brought the BMR VW home in a respectable 7th place. There was no doubt that Colin Turkington was happy with his weekend:

“I needed a performance like that as I was beginning to feel a little left out! There’s been a lot of rivalry between me and Jason [Plato] since day one, and he’s had a little bit of an advantage until now, but I’ve pretty much cracked it.”

The move from RWD to FWD was never going to be an easy one, but as the man himself says, he appears to have cracked it. In a similar fashion to last year, Turkington has made his title intentions clear once again. It is very rare that a driver can have a faultless weekend, but Colin may have just managed it. Even Jason Plato, who has now taken to a cooling bathe in a paddling pool after each race had a pretty solid weekend, with a 3rd, 4th and 2nd, putting him atop the drivers standings heading into the next race at Knockhill:

“It’s been a great weekend – we were ten points behind coming into the weekend and now we’re leaving 16 ahead. An engineer would say that’s a delta of 26 – which means it’s been a very good weekend! I can’t remember a time when a team has scored a 1-2-3 in qualifying and then backed it up with a 1-2-3 in the race too”

BMR reigned supreme throughout the weekend. Photo credit: BTCC.net

BMR reigned supreme throughout the weekend. Photo credit: BTCC.net

The final race of the day also saw that elusive first win for the ever-plucky Jack Goff in the MG. Having secured the reverse grid pole, Goff got the dream start which propelled him into a lead he would never lose. That is not to say that Jason Plato let him have it easily. The final few laps saw Goff’s lead reduce from 2 seconds to only 0.3 seconds. A gallant effort by Plato, albeit not enough to topple the MG. Ever since his epic battle with Gordon Shedden at the final race at Brands Hatch a few years ago, Goff had been tipped as the next big thing. However, some of his performances seem to lack that ‘go hard or go home’ attitude needed to win a BTCC race. Until his win, Goff had only achieved a single podium at the first race weekend of the year. With his first win under his belt, chances are some primal urge has been unleashed and we will be seeing a great many more victory celebrations from Goff. After his highly popular win, the future should be bright for Jack! He seems to agree anyway:

“I made my best start of the year, and what a time to do it! That’s the strongest the car has felt all season, and it was a great race. I could see Jason [Plato] in my mirrors and was thinking ‘of all the people to have behind me, it would be him!’ Hopefully, the results will come in like London buses now!”

An impressive weekend for both Morgan and Priaulx at Snetterton! Photo Credit: BTCC.net

An impressive weekend for both Morgan and Priaulx at Snetterton! Photo Credit: BTCC.net

Two drivers that solidly impressed throughout the weekend were Mercedes driver Adam Morgan and WSR man Priaulx. Race two saw a wonderful battle between Priaulx and Morgan. Priaulx may indeed have had the faster car, but Morgan’s defensive drive was truly astonishing, holding on for an eventual 2nd place. Morgan has worked hard to get to where he is, and within the next year or two he will be topping the timing sheets and even the title table. A dark ginger horse he really is! A truly talented driver with the skills for greatness!

In fact, 2nd through 5th places were separated by less than half a second on the line. With two third places and a fifth, Priaulx has set his sights on more than just race wins:

“It’s been a brilliant weekend – to score two podiums at a track that we know isn’t one of our best is really positive. Let’s keep this momentum going now and start focusing on that championship.”

Upon his return to the championship, many (even Andy) thought it would take him a while to readjust to the unique demands of the BTCC. But from his results so far this season, Priaulx has proved beyond a shadow of a doubt exactly why he is a world champion of touring cars. There is even talk of him taking part in the Rockingham, which was he was originally meant to miss due to other racing commitments. This new information is proof that Priaulx has his eye on more than just a return this year; this is a man that wants a BTCC title. With some BMW friendly tracks on the horizon too, he may well be fighting for the championship!

A weekend to be forgotten for Honda Yuasa Racing... Photo Credit: BTCC.net

A weekend to be forgotten for Honda Yuasa Racing… Photo Credit: BTCC.net

The weekend held successes for many, but for many race day was less than satisfactory. One of the biggest losers was Collard who was taken out by his own team mate Tordoff (awkward) in race one, before spinning out in race two. As great as his comeback was in race three, Collard did attract some criticism after spinning Hunter Abbott out the way. A great driver he may be, but in the last few years Collard has developed too many dirty tactics and much respect for him has been lost!

But none lost out more than Honda, who suffered one of their worst race weekends in recent history. Following a disastrous qualifying for Shedden after ‘power steering issues’, Flash went on finish the first race 14th and get taken out of the second race (by his own team mate none the less). In Neal’s defence, when you go 4-wide into a corner, who you end up knocking into is often out of your control. Shedden’s luck went from bad to worse in the final race where it looked like his car had not recovered from the race two incident. His only shred of comfort came when he was let back out the pit towards the end of the race and set the fastest lap. All clouds have a silver lining, or something like that I guess!

“I don’t really know what to say. I don’t think I’ve ever had a weekend where I’ve had so much bad luck. It is what it is, we’ve got to move on and make the best of the next one now”

The returning Fords at first made no impact on the top end of the field, until Jackson reminded us all why he is a touring car driver. After a stonking drive through the grid, Jackson brought the Ford home to an eventual 6th in the final race of the day. Moving forward to Knockhill, the drivers standings are getting ever more interesting:

1 Jason Plato Team BMR 230
2 Colin Turkington Team BMR 214
3 Gordon Shedden Honda Yuasa Racing 198
4 Sam Tordoff Team JCT600 with GardX 191
5 Andrew Jordan MG Triple Eight Racing 189
6 Matt Neal Honda Yuasa Racing 188
7 Andy Priaulx Team IHG Rewards Club 168
8 Jack Goff MG Triple Eight Racing 162
9 Adam Morgan WIX Racing 157
10 Rob Collard Team JCT600 with GardX 133

The top 6 all have a fighting chance at the top spot the way it currently stands. Most of all, I am impressed with Tordoff who has kept his head down and out the spotlight yet still managed to keep himself firmly in contention. It may be an outside chance, but we could see Tordoff topping the table if the BMWs come good once again. But at the end of the day, there is no taking it away from Plato and Turkington, who with the help of BMR have taken a firm stranglehold on the series. If anything their rivalry spurs them on more than ever, which may well make them uncatchable.

How will Knockhill change proceedings? Will Aron Smith finally make his mark on the championship or will his bad luck continue? Can Palmer capitalise on his first ever points finish for Support Our Paras? Can Power Maxed have a repeat of their Donington performance or was it just a one off? Can anyone toppled the mighty Team BMR team?

Let me know your thoughts!

Twitter: @lewisglynn69

Keep Driving People!

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