Blink and you’ll miss it; That’s probably been the best way to describe the 2013 Dunlop MSA British Touring Car Championship so far. Its amazing to think we’re a fifth of the way into the season so far. So how’s it been? Well as you might expect, it’s been bloody entertaining. I’ll start with Round 1.
The season started at Brands Hatch on a chilly (that’s putting it mildly, especially considering some light snow decided to make an appearance) Easter weekend. Qualifying started on a sour note for both rookie Jack Goff and returning champion Colin Turkington after the former collected the latter on the exit of Druids just two minutes into the half hour session (Watch it here). When the session resumed after the stoppage caused by the incident, it was rising star Andrew Jordan who set the fastest time halfway through the session to take pole, albeit with the second half of the session rendered effectively pointless due to the arrival of that snow that I mentioned.
However, It was the BTCC’s main man, Jason Plato, who took the wins in the first two races of the season. In the first race, he took the lead from a fast starting Rob Austin (more on him in a bit) in the early stages and held on to take his 75th victory in the series, despite an ill-judged and somewhat desperate attempt of an overtake from pole-sitter Jordan on the last corner (Watch it here).
Plato led from lights to flag to take his 76th success in race 2, a race in which Frank Wrathall unfortunately blotted his copybook. Just two laps in to the race and Frank, who up to that point in his BTCC career had been praised for his clean driving style, went for an overtake on Turkington at the Paddock Hill Bend. It was an honest enough attempt, but he should of spotted that the gap on the inside of Colin’s BMW was not only tight, but it was also getting smaller. The pair inevitably came together, with the BMW being fired off into the gravel. Colin recovered, but way down at the back of the field. (Watch it here). A little later on in the encounter, Wrathall came up against his good mate Rob Austin. Going into Druids, Austin went wide to give Frank enough to room to make the pass, only for the Toyota man to run wide unnecessarily wide himself and hit the back of the Audi and take it out of the race. As we all know, bad things come in threes and thats exactly what happened to Wrathall. The pack was bunched up due to a safety car and on the restart, Wrathall was bundled into at the rear at Druids by Matt Neal, spinning him into the gravel. Fair to say then, Frank was glad to see the back of that race.
Race 3 was won by Matt Neal, who worked his way through the field after a sometimes trying weekend to tkae the checkered flag first. His Honda team mate and reigning champion finished second. However, the limelight belonged to MG youngster Sam Tordoff, who was competing in only his second ever BTCC meeting and his first in over two years, who put in a well measured and feisty drive to take a great maiden podium. The race was partially marred though by a massive shunt for Audi man Rob Austin, who was collected by a spinning Dave Newsham on the exit of Paddock and sent into the tyre barrier at a scary speed (Watch it here). Thankfully, Rob was OK but the car was wrecked and in need of a re-shell, not an easy task for such a small team with a limited budget. Adam Morgan wrapped up an already impressive weekend in his family run Toyota with a great drive to take his first independent win in fourth place, behind Tordoff.
In the Jack Sears Trophy for S2000 cars, Motorbase driver Liam Griffin took two wins, but the second of those only came when Vauxhall driver Lea Wood was excluded from the race after initially taking the victory in Race 3. James Kaye took the other win in race 2 in his AMD run VW Golf.
Race 1 Result (Top 5):
1) Jason Plato 2) Andrew Jordan 3) Rob Austin 4) Sam Tordoff 5) Jeff Smith
Race 2 Result (Top 5):
1) Jason Plato 2) Andrew Jordan 3) Jeff Smith 4) Matt Neal 5) Sam Tordoff
Race 3 Result (Top 5):
1) Matt Neal 2) Gordon Shedden 3) Sam Tordoff 4) Adam Morgan 5) Jason Plato