Yet again, drivers using Cobra seats captured most of the podium places at this, the British Touring Car Championship’s fifth meeting of the season – claiming no fewer than two clean sweeps.
A misty Knockhill marked the halfway point of the BTCC season, with the Championship closer than ever. Unfortunately, one name missing from the leader board so far is the usually dependable Colin Turkington who has had a troubled season in the WSR BMW.
The question was when (rather than if) the Ulsterman would start to turn his season round – and the answer came at Knockhill: A superb qualifying saw Colin take pole for race 1 – with the mouth-watering prospect of securing West Surrey Racing’s 100th BTCC win.
Turkington obliged by powering his BMW 330i M Sport away from the grid and duly pulled away from the rest of the pack before an early safety car period halted his progress.
However, at the restart Colin repeated the trick to cruise to a lights-to-flag victory to give him and his team a much-needed fillip in his bid to win a fifth BTCC title.
Behind Turkington, Senna Proctor and Josh Cook scored a podium double for BTC Racing as the team’s Honda Civic Type Rs finished second and third.
Eighth and ninth was a family affair with long time Cobra ambassador Gordon Shedden’s Halfords Racing with Cataclean Honda finishing just ahead of his brother-in-law - Rory Butcher – in his Toyota, with another “Cobra driver” Tom Ingram close behind in tenth.
Despite carrying maximum ballast in race two, having led the race from the off, it seemed odds on that Turkington would take the chequered flag for the second time in a row when, with less than a lap to go, and under severe pressure from Ash Sutton, he uncharacteristically drifted off line to let Sutton through and thus be relegated to second place.
Behind the top two the battle for places equally frenetic: Rory Butcher was moving towards a podium position when his error led to him sliding into the tyre barrier and out of the race. When the dust settled (literally and metaphorically) in addition to Turkington’s second place, drivers using Cobra seats were in fourth, fifth, sixth and seventh – Josh Cook, Gordon Shedden, Tom Ingram and Senna Proctor respectively.
This season, probably more so than any season we can remember, drivers using Cobra seats seem to be sharing podium positions around, so it was no surprise that race three saw another battle among “Cobra” drivers.
This time it was Excelr8 Motorsport's Tom Ingram’s turn to ramp up his challenge in this season's British Touring Car Championship title race.
The Hyundai i30N driver started race three from fourth on the grid, but immediately jumped ahead of Senna Proctor at the start of the race and was up to second place by the end of lap one.
Having made rapid progress from fourth to second, it took another 16 laps for Ingram to get past Stephen Jelley in his WSR BMW and claim the lead when Jelley left just enough of a gap on the inside of the final hairpin to allow Ingram to dive down the inside.
From that moment on, Ingram managed to assemble a race-winning lead, while the Honda of BTC Racing's Senna Proctor repeated Ingram’s move at the final hairpin to claim second and demote Jelley down to third.
Jelley managed to hold onto the final podium position ahead of Gordon Shedden in fourth.
It was a result that saw Tom Ingram move into second in the Championship standings – just 14 points off top spot.
20 points further back, Colin Turkington has forced his way up to 3rd in the rankings, but to emphasise just how close this year’s championship race is, only 25 points separate Colin in third from Stephen Jelly in 8th, with Gordon Shedden, Josh Cook and Dan Rowbottom shoehorned in 4th, 6th and 7th places respectively!