Turkington Extends His Championship Lead
For drivers in Cobra seats Knockhill was a weekend with more ups and downs than a kilt in a hurricane.
Practice day benefitted from lovely summer weather – and the sun certainly shone on Dan Cammish, in the Team Dynamics Honda Civic, who drove a barnstorming lap to claim his first ever pole for race one. Stephen Jelley, in his Team Parker BMW125iM, didn’t wobble either with a brilliant drive to claim 2nd on the grid: the best qualifying session of his BTCC career so far. To complete a top four lockout, Andrew Jordan’s WSR BMW125iM claimed 3rd on the grid and Colin Turkington’s BMW125iM (carrying maximum ballast) claimed 4th.
The arrival of race day coincided with probably the worst weather of a glorious summer. ‘Dreek’ barely did it justice. That made the start of the race all the more critical – get into the first corner first and at least you wouldn’t have to contend with the spray thrown up by everyone else!
Cammish made it – with Colin Turkington edging his way up to second by lap 4.
By halfway, all of the BTCC Championship leaders were in the front group – but on lap 12 everything was about to change: Matt Simpson in the Simpson Racing Honda Civic tagged Matt Neal’s Team Dynamics Honda, forcing him to become the first retirement from the race – and on what proved to be a ‘lappus horribilis’ for the Yuasa Honda team, early signs of tyre degradation resulted in Cammish losing his lead. Still on lap 12 and Turkington ran wide, allowing Jelley to move back into third. By now Cammish was struggling – the only front wheel drive car in the leading group, his front tyres were losing their edge and by lap 18 he had gradually dropped back to 4th.
Then on lap 19 Turkington, anticipating a move to the right by Jelley which never materialised, inadvertently tapped the Team Parker BMW125iM driver sending the unfortunate Jelley into the gravel. The ensuing safety car concertinaed the field but there were to be no more dramatic place changes: Turkington claimed 2nd, Cammish 3rd, Jordan 4th – with Tom Ingram’s Speedworks Toyota Avensis claiming 6th.
By race 2 the air temperature had risen to a balmy 9 degrees and the rain continued to fall: safety cars seemed an inevitability. Ingram in the Speedworks Toyota Avensis showed his intent by posting fastest lap and a determined Jordan in the WSR BMW125iM carefully worked his way up from 4th on the grid to 2nd on lap 10, pushing Colin Turkington down to 3rd.
A stream of water at the hairpin was, by now, establishing itself as a watercourse that was probably worthy of being named on a map, and Yuasa Honda driver Dan Cammish wasn’t the first to fall victim of it – aquaplaning from 3rd to 5th. By now all eyes were on the battle for 2nd and 3rd between Jordan and Ingram, but a safety car on lap 12 saw an enforced ‘truce’ between the two. The race resumed on lap 19 and Ingram seized the opportunity to out-brake Jordan into Duffers Dip to move up to 2nd. By now Turkington was struggling with his tyres but at three-quarter distance the latest in a series of offs resulted in a red flag with Ingram 2nd, Jordan 3rd, Cammish 5th and a relieved Turkington 6th.
However, in BTCC a red flag doesn’t necessarily mean the end of the drama and the ride height roller in park ferme was about to make a determined effort to grab the headlines. First it refused to go under the winning Subaru of Ash Sutton and then it proved equally resistant to the splitter on Tom Ingram’s car.
As a result, Jordan was elevated to 1st place, Cammish took the last spot on the podium in 3rd and Turkington took 4th. Colin had actually extended his lead at the top of the BTCC Drivers Championship to the biggest margin of the championship to date.
For race 3 the weather improved – the rain ceased and the skies lightened. Again, the safety car played its part. Turkington was a man on a mission and had already competing hard 2nd place when the safety car really closed things up. On lap 16 his patience paid off and he shot into 2nd place with his eyes set on the race leader, setting fastest lap on lap 20 in the process.
Meanwhile, Andrew Jordan in the WSR/Pirtek BMW125iM was grabbing 3rd in a titanic four-way battle for the last podium position. By the penultimate lap, Turkington’s experience was much in evidence when he made the decision to bank the points for 2nd rather than risk everything by going for broke and push for top spot on the podium.
The last race of the day summed up the fascination of BTCC perfectly: the 15th different winner of the season stood on the top step of the podium. Colin Turkington, who had not had an easy weekend, stood on the 2nd step having extended his championship lead to 43 points over Tom Ingram and Andrew Jordan took 3rd, strengthening his 4th place in the championship standings.
One thing you can predict about the BTCC is that it is always unpredictable!
So, after a challenging day for everyone, no “Cobra” driver managed to win any of the three “battles” at Knockhill, but Cobra drivers did make significant steps towards winning the BTCC Championship “war”: In the Drivers’ Championship Colin Turkington leads the standings by forty-three points from Tom Ingram with Andrew Jordan in 4th place – just sixteen points further back.
BMW has extended its lead in the Manufacturers championship with Honda still in second spot; Team BMW are now ahead by twenty-seven points at the top of the Team standings with Halfords Yuasa Racing still second – although after a very difficult weekend they are now sharing that spot.
Tom Ingram still leads the Independent Drivers Championship, Speedworks leads the Independent Teams Championship, Dan Cammish heads the race for the Jack Sears Trophy while Tom Ingram leads the Dunlop Foreverforward standings.