BTCC OULTON PARK
30 June 2019
The statistics (almost) say it all: Drivers using Cobra seats took the top seven positions in qualifying, the top seven positions in Race 1, the top eight positions in Race 2 and the top six positions in Race 3.
… and if Colin Turkington’s double didn’t grab all the headlines, then controversy in Race 3 involving three more drivers using Cobra seats ensured that “The Cobra Boys” really did dominate the news reports from start to finish!
Race 1 saw Colin Turkington convert pole position into his third win of the British Touring Car Championship season, taking the flag two seconds clear of runner-up Dan Cammish.
Both Turkington and his BMW teammate Andrew Jordan, starting in 4th, opted to run the softer compound tyre in the first race and enjoyed a strong getaway as did Honda driver Dan Cammish who started third on the grid. The result was a titanic battle for second between Jordan, Cammish and Sam Tordoff – who was a little slower away from second on the grid. The scrap allowed Turkington to ease to a one second lead by the end of the first lap, before an impressive run of fastest laps from Cammish brought that down to 0.5s as the soft tyres appeared to wear for Turkington.
Ironically it was Dan’s teammate Matt Neal who inadvertently relieved the pressure on Turkington: A sheared wheel on Matt’s car on lap 6 resulted in him visiting the tyre wall and the appearance of a safety car which, significantly, allowed Turkington to cool his tyres with the result that just one lap into the restart saw him pull almost one second ahead of Cammish and that lead was slowly stretched to two seconds by the end of the race.
Cammish remained clear for second, while four-time winner this season Jordan completed the podium. To finish the “Cobra roll of honour” Rory Butcher overhauled AmD Tuning teammate Sam Tordoff for fourth with Tom Oliphant a close-run sixth and the Toyota Corolla of Tom Ingram was seventh.
Colin Turkington’s dominance continued in Race 2 as he became only the fourth driver to score 50 wins in the British Touring Car Championship.
In a race dominated by the WSR BMW’s, the reigning BTCC champion was never challenged for first place as he led from pole and two safety car restarts to finish clear of teammate Andrew Jordan. Behind them, Dan Cammish took a second podium of the day, just ahead of the third WSR BMW of Tom Oliphant. Sam Tordoff fended off the ex-Turkington BMW 125i M Sport of a hard-charging Stephen Jelley to claim fifth and sixth respectively, with Rory Butcher seventh and Tom Ingram 8th.
Where do we start with Race 3? The photos show a somewhat subdued Jake Hill on the top step of the podium having “claimed” his first ever British Touring Car Championship victory. However, the “Cobra” driver was already reconciled to handing over the trophy and was soon informed that he was to be given a 20-second penalty following contact with Matt Neal.
The adjusted result means Hill dropped to 14th leaving Stephen Jelley to climb out of his Cobra seat in his Team Parker Racing BMW 125 to take his third ever BTCC victory - and his first since 2009.
The incident with Hill left Matt Neal incandescent: the draw for the reverse-grid final race had placed Neal's Honda on the outside of the front row. While beaten off the line by pole-sitter Hill, going into lap 3 the Honda powered past into the lead, only for Hill's car to make contact with Neal's and pitch the Civic Type R into a wild spin.
Neal (and the Stewards) viewed the move as reckless and in fairness Jake held up his hands and apologised for his misjudgement.
It was an acrimonious and controversial end to a day which will hopefully be remembered as a record-breaking day for Colin Turkington and a remarkable day for drivers using Cobra seats. Not surprisingly, the championship tables look pretty good, too.
In the BTCC Drivers Championship Colin Turkington has an impressive lead on 195 points with Andrew Jordan second on 162 points followed by Josh Cook (148 points) and Rory Butcher (147 points) with Dan Cammish 6th (130 points) and Matt Neal 7th (125 points).
In the BTCC Manufacturers' Championship, after 15 rounds BMW are top of the tree with 425 points with Honda second on 379 points, while in the BTCC Teams' Championship, Team BMW are on 276 points, Halfords Yuasa Racing have 252 points and Cobra Sport AMD have 218 points.