BTCC - Croft
A challenging day for the majority of “Cobra” drivers ended happily for most as, when the chequered flag fell on the final race of the day, the sum proved to be greater than the parts: Or, to put it bluntly, there wasn’t a win for “Cobra” drivers in any of the three races, but they ended up taking the top four positions in the BTCC Drivers’ Championship and topping the polls in all six standings. As ever, Saturday witnessed a closely fought practice which resulted in Andrew Jordan’s WSR BMW 125iM starting 3rd, Tom Ingram’s Speedworks Toyota Avensis 5th, Colin Turkington and Rob Collard 6th and 7th respectively in their WSR BMW 125iM’s and Stephen Jelly an impressive 8th in his Team Parker BMW. While Jordan had a storming start, it was a different story for Collard and Jelly who came together at turn 1 – a contratent that left Rob stranded with rear suspension trouble and Jelly’s car looking decidedly second hand. By lap 11 Jordan’s success ballast was taking its toll as he dropped to 3rd – and worse was to come when, obviously suffering from rear grip problems, he spun into 10th on lap 14. That left Tom Ingram to take a (relatively) comfortable 3rd with Turkington 5th, Collard 6th and Matt Neal 9th. On to race 2 and Tom Ingram showed why he is the reigning Independent’s Champion when he stormed from 3rd on the grid into the lead at turn 1 – not bad for a driver in a front wheel drive car on a “rear wheel drive” circuit. An untidy first lap (euphemism warning!) saw some drivers taking the agricultural route through Croft’s countryside and others untidily repositioning track furniture, distractions that did few favours for Ingram who made a mistake at the hairpin to lose his lead on lap 2. Colin Turkington, however, was moving in the opposite direction, posting a fastest lap to move up to 3rd on lap 6. The temperatures were soaring – but for some more than others as Tom Boardman’s AmD MG6 limped in to the pits on lap 8 with a dramatically over-heating engine. Meanwhile Jordan and Collard were involved in a titanic battle for 5th – the issue only being resolved on Lap 10 when the unfortunate Collard had to slow with a puncture to his left rear. Back at the front and Ingram, who was obviously struggling with his front tyres, was putting in a great defensive drive to hold on to 2nd at the flag. He was joined on the podium by Turkington in 3rd, while Andrew Jordan (5th) and Matt Neal (7th) picked up valuable championship points. One BTCC legend (John Cleland) did another BTCC legend (Matt Neal) a favour with the reverse grid draw leaving the Honda driver 3rd on the grid. In a typically close race, by lap 5 the leading six cars were covered by just four seconds with Matt Neal having dropped down to 5th, but Matt fought back on lap 9 with a feisty move that got him in to 4th and also helped Colin Turkington ease up into 5th – positions they held to the chequered flag with Andrew Jordan coming home 6th and Tom Ingram 9th. So, at the end of a day of hot racing (in more ways than one) no “Cobra” driver had taken top spot on the podium, but the all-important season’s tables are a different story. In the BTCC drivers’ championship Colin Turkington leads on 162 points with Tom Ingram second, Matt Neal third and Andrew Jordan fourth. In the manufacturers championship BMW are first and Honda second; Team BMW also leads the teams’ standings, with Halfords Yuasa Racing second. Tom Ingram leads the independent drivers’ championship with Speedworks Motorsport topping the Independent Teams standings, while Dan Cammish heads the Jack Sears trophy. In the Dunlop FOREVERFORWARD standings Jake Hill leads the way closely followed by Tom Boardman and Tom Ingram. So, as we reach the mid-season break it’s looking good for “Cobra” drivers – we’d like to think that those precious “tenths” saved by having perfectly fitted seats are helping to make a difference!