Tom Ingram, Gordon Shedden and Jake Hill claimed the first three wins of the season to get the 2022 BTCC season off to the perfect start.
If the start of the Hybrid era marked a step into the unknown, there were some familiar names using Cobra seats on the top step (indeed most of the steps) on the podium.
In the first race of the season four times BTCC Drivers Champion Colin Turkington out dragged fellow BMW 330e M Sport driver Jake Hill off the grid to take the lead at the first bend: Despite the different liveries, both Colin’s Team BMW car and Jake’s ROKiT MB Motorsport “Beemer” are prepared by WSR.
As early as lap two the race had developed into a seven way tussle for the lead as the early pace of the BMW’s was compromised by a feisty battle between Turkington and Hill : The two rubbed bodywork down the Craner Curves, before Hill dived down the inside of Turkington at the Old Hairpin only for Turkington to cut back across the outside at Schwantz Curve and there was more contact as Hill hung on around the outside of McLeans.
Tom Ingram in his Bristol Street Motors with Trade Price Cars.com Excelr8 Hyundai i30N took advantage, finding a gap down the inside of both BMWs into Coppice to take the lead. A lead he held on to until the chequered flag.
Behind Ingram, the BMW’s continued to squabble; Hill was pressuring Turkington when he clipped the tyre stack at the first apex of the chicane – a contact which resulted in Hill failing the post-race ride height check and being disqualified – leaving Turkington to take second and promoting three times BTCC Champion Gordon Shedden in his Halfords Racing with Cataclean Honda Civic Type R to third.
With Adam Morgan finishing fifth, George Gamble sixth, and Stephen Jelley, Josh Cook Dan Rowbottom and Tom Chilton rounding out the top ten, nine of the first ten in the race were using Cobra Seats.
Race two was one to forget for Turkington – in contrast to his scintillating start in race one his car stalled on the line, leaving “Flash” Shedden and Tom Ingram to spend the race battling for the lead: Ingram held the advantage for the first nine laps only for Shedden to blast past into the lead on the approach to McLeans – a place he held as the flag dropped.
Behind them, series debutant George Gamble was third in just his second BTCC race in the Car Gods with Cicely Motorsport BMW 330e M Sport, finishing just under a second ahead of teammate Adam Morgan in fourth.
Josh Cook was fifth in the Rich Energy BTC Racing Honda Civic Type R
Jake Hill, recovered well from the disappointment of his disqualification from third place in race one, racing through the field from 28th and last on the grid to claim ninth place, just ahead of Rory Butcher’s Toyota Gazoo Racing UK Toyota Corolla GR Sport.
Race three proved to be one of redemption for Jake Hill who banished memories of his disqualification in race one by not only being drawn on pole position for the reversed grid but using it as a launch pad to drive away from the field and take a pole to flag victory.
Josh Cook also enjoyed better fortunes at the end of the meeting than he had at the beginning: A disastrous qualifying session left him a mountain to climb and his rise to eighth in round one and fifth in round two culminated in his claiming the third step on the podium in the last race of the day.
Behind Cook, Tom Ingram claimed fifth (to take an early lead in the BTCC Drivers’ Championship) ahead of Adam Morgan, Rory Butcher, Colin Turkington and Gordon Shedden in ninth to round off a great start to the 2022 campaign – a day which saw drivers using Cobra seats dominate the days proceedings.