BTCC BRANDS HATCH
07 APRIL 2019
Congratulations to “Cobra drivers” Andrew Jordan and Rory Butcher
The 2019 Kwik Fit British Touring Car Championship kicked off at Brands Hatch with “Cobra drivers”, Andrew Jordan and Rory Butcher both claiming top step on the podium and BMW and Honda ending the day sharing the lead in the Manufacturers Championship.
With fog and drizzle shrouding the Kent circuit, a day’s thrilling racing was influenced as much by tyre choice as anything else: Treacherous track conditions blighted the first race with many teams towards the front of the grid (including WSR and Honda) deciding to start on Dunlop wet tyres, but once the race got underway, those further down the grid who had gambled on slicks proved quicker.
However, drivers using Cobra seats only had to wait until Race 2 to claim their first win of the season with Andrew Jordan taking a brilliant first victory for the brand-new BMW 330i M Sport. The BMW Pirtek Racing driver charged through from 15th on the grid to deliver a masterful performance in a car that ran beautifully once the 1.2-mile Indy circuit dried out from early rain. Andrew rocketed off the line and by the end of lap one had passed seven cars, he then dispatched rival after rival in a scintillating display that culminated in him moving into the lead on the outside of the pit straight with eight laps to run. Fastest lap and a dominant win were just reward for a superb drive
Cobra Sport AmD Autoaid/RCIB Insurance’s Rory Butcher claimed his first ever BTCC win in the third race of the day after Tom Chilton was handed a post-race 5 second penalty for gaining an advantage during contact with Matt Neal’s Honda.
Race three was certainly full of drama: Neal's Halfords Yuasa Racing Honda was beaten away at the start of the race but quickly closed on leader Stephen Jelley and took the top spot on the seventh of the 24 laps. The Honda, however, was running the softer-treaded option tyre mandatory for one race per meeting, and as it started to wear Neal was soon closed down and passed by Tom Chilton and Rory Butcher.
After contact with Chilton, Matt’s speed continued to drop and it all came to head when contact with another “Cobra driver”, Stephen Jelley in his Team Parker BMW sent the Honda sideways through Clearways, allowing the charging Butcher past both of them in the older shaped Civic Type R, a move that would ultimately reward him victory.
Matt’s battle with a resurgent Jelley also saw these two cars make contact and Neal looked to have held on to the final podium spot until heading on to the last lap damage from earlier contact caused a rear suspension breakage.
While the Halfords Yuasa Racing driver dragged his crippled machine across the line to salvage eighth place Jelley went on to grab a hugely popular podium – his first since winning at Rockingham in 2009 and the first ever for Team Parker Racing in the BTCC.
While the race winners rightly grab the headlines, less dramatic but consistent drives for Colin Turkington and Tom Oliphant at WSR ensure that they remain very much “in touch” – hence BMW and Honda ending the day sharing the lead in the Manufacturers Championship.