eBay Motors driver takes two BTCC wins but Matt Neal pulls away in championship battle following race three victory at Croft
Colin Turkington scored a fantastic double victory for eBay Motors at Croft before narrowly missing out on a memorable treble as he finished behind the Honda Civic of championship leader Matt Neal in race three.
BMW racer Turkington was the star of the show all weekend, having secured a last gasp pole position in qualifying and a dominant lights-to-flag win in race one ahead of Neal and his Honda Yuasa Racing team-mate Gordon Shedden.
Turkington already held the accolade as the most successful BTCC driver ever at Croft and he further extended that advantage with his eighth victory at the circuit and his second of the day in race two.
With light rain falling before the start of that contest the MGs of Jason Plato and Sam Tordoff chose to run wet tyres, which initially seemed to pay off. The MG KX Momentum Racing duo stormed into a lead after passing Turkington early on but the circuit began to dry rapidly as the race progressed.
Plato and Tordoff slipped back into the clutches of the BMW behind, and Turkington nipped by to take the win. The MGs faded dramatically in the latter stages and were eventually lapped by the front-runners, denting Plato’s championship challenge in the process.
Shedden took second, improving on his third place in race one, whilst the impressive Tom Onslow-Cole completed the podium in his VW Passat with his his third rostrum of the season.
With heavy rain falling there were no tyre selection issues for the day’s third race and it was front row starter Nick Foster that made the best getaway in his BMW 125i M Sport. He led the early running while pole-sitter Adam Morgan slipped back to second in the Ciceley Racing Toyota Avensis.
Double race winner Turkington was rapid in the opening laps and he made an opportunistic move by the Hondas of Andrew Jordan and reigning champion Shedden when the pair touched on the exit of Tower. Neal then edged out Morgan at the same corner and Turkington nearly made another double pass. He scrambled his way by the Toyota of Morgan but Neal held on to second and it proved to be the closest Turkington would come to making a move on the Honda.
Both Neal and Turkington made relatively light work of Foster who began to fade at the front of the field and the lead duo were rarely separated by more than two seconds as they romped to the first two places on the podium. There was a final scare for Neal, however, in what he called ‘two mighty moments’ on the last lap but the three-time champion held on to win.
The race wrapped up a day that had everything, including a dry race, a wet-dry race and a final showdown held in almost monsoon-like conditions. As ever, the BTCC faithful were out in force throughout the weekend as thousands of fans braved the weather until the conclusion of the event.
Now at the halfway point of the 2013 Dunlop MSA British Touring Car Championship, Neal leads the standings from Jordan by 19 points. Incredibly Neal has led the series at this stage of the last four seasons, but there’s still a whole host of contenders for this year’s title which also now includes Turkington after a quite brilliant weekend for the Irishman.
There were three different winners in the Jack Sears Trophy at Croft and each had their own rewarding conclusion. Jake Hill won the opener on his BTCC debut for Addison Lee Motorbase before David Nye claimed a memorable maiden victory in his Ford Focus – holding off an intense challenge from Hill and class leader Lea Wood. Vauxhall Vectra driver Wood then extended his advantage in the Cups table by taking his sixth win of the season in race three.
Colin Turkington said: “It was pretty perfect to be honest. I couldn’t have predicted that I’d score so well but I’ve been on good form all weekend and the team has done a great job. We know what makes the car tick now so we’ll keep working hard to see if we can close the gap on Honda and MG in the championship.”
Matt Neal said: “Every win is a special one but I was counting every lap down in that won. We’re only halfway through the season – there’s a very long way to go – but it’s great to go into the summer break with the bragging rights as championship leader. I am going to make the most of that for the next six weeks before we come back at Snetterton.”
Gordon Shedden said: “MG seemed to find a secret weapon last time out at Oulton Park but I think they left it at home this weekend! It was a good points haul for us in the end but it could have actually been even better. Race two was another great race with lots going on so I hope it was fantastic to watch for the spectators whereas you’re in the lap of the gods when it’s as wet as it was in race three, but overall it was a good weekend.”
David Nye said: “It has been a long time coming but it feels great. It was relentless pressure all the way and I really had to work for it. I had a few taps from behind by Jake Hill but it’s great to be fighting with another young driver in the Jack Sears Trophy. The guys at the front don’t know what they’re missing – all the action is at the back with us!”
1 Colin Turkington (eBay Motors) 15 Laps
2 Matt Neal (Honda Yuasa Racing) +9.334
3 Gordon Shedden (Honda Yuasa Racing) +9.552
4 Nick Foster (eBay Motors) +12.819
5 Jason Plato (MG KX Momentum Racing) +18.580
6 Andrew Jordan (Pirtek Racing) +20.810
1 Colin Turkington (eBay Motors) 15 laps
2 Gordon Shedden (Honda Yuasa Racing) +2.987
3 Tom Onslow-Cole (PPCGB/Kraftwerk Racing) +9.035
4 Matt Neal (Honda Yuasa Racing) +12.012
5 Andrew Jordan (Pirtek Racing) +13.680
6 Robert Collard (eBay Motors) +13.785
1 Matt Neal (Honda Yuasa Racing) 15 Laps
2 Colin Turkington (eBay Motors) +0.631
3 Andrew Jordan (Pirtek Racing) +4.321
4 Gordon Shedden (Honda Yuasa Racing) +8.484
5 Dave Newsham (Speedworks Motorsport) +11.769
6 Jason Plato (MG KX Momentum Racing) +19.061
1 Matt Neal (Honda Yuasa Racing) 224
2 Andrew Jordan (Pirtek Racing) 205
3 Jason Plato (MG KX Momentum Racing) 188
4 Gordon Shedden (Honda Yuasa Racing) 188
5 Colin Turkington (eBay Motors) 184
6 Sam Tordoff (MG KX Momentum Racing) 148
For full results from the weekend, click here.
Jeff Smith received a three second time penalty for gaining an unfair advantage in race two. As this was his third reprimand this season he also received a six place grid penalty for race three
Rob Collard received a one second time penalty for gaining an unfair advantage in race two.
Mat Jackson received three penalty points and a £500 fine for an incident relating to driving standards in race three