If it were a film script you wouldn’t believe it, but in typical BTCC style the two drivers whose participation at Croft was in doubt following their massive accident at Oulton Park just two weeks ago bounced back to take the headlines for all the right reasons.
Following the 40 G-force accident which rendered his 2022 car unusable for this meeting, the team at West Surrey Racing worked day and night to adapt Turkington’s 2019 title-winning BMW 330e to comply with this year’s regulations (no small task, since the hybrid era cars are significantly different to their predecessors). Following what Turkington describes as “the first big shunt of his career” Colin admits that his first outing on the track was somewhat tentative: But you can’t keep a four- time British Touring Car Champion down and towards the end of the session Turkington delivered a new Croft BTCC qualifying lap record.
Further good news for drivers using Cobra seats saw the Halfords Racing with Cataclean Honda Civic Type R’s of Dan Rowbottom and Gordon Shedden hit their straps – qualifying second and fifth respectively – and Championship leader Tom Ingram qualifying fourth. Incredibly, Ingram’s teammate Daniel Lloyd, who was the other driver involved in the accident with Turkington and who had serious doubts about his future in the Championship as a result of the huge cost of rebuilding his car, qualified one place above Ingram in third.
In fact, three proved to be Lloyds lucky number as he launched his Hyundai from third on the grid to pass Dan Rowbottom’s Honda at the bend and then flew past Turkington before the end of the first lap to go on and take the chequered flag in what proved to be the first leg of a “Croft double,” taking his career BTCC wins to three.
Lloyd held off Turkington for the remainder of race one – meaning that the two drivers who ended up in the medical centre at the end of the previous race claimed the top two steps of the podium in the first race of the day.
Dan Rowbottom completed the podium positions holding off a determined Tom Ingram for the entire race.
On a circuit where it was proving hard to overtake, race two delivered just a slight shuffling of the pack. Starting on pole Lloyd got off the line well to hold the lead for the full 18-laps of the race, while behind him Tom Ingram – starting fourth on the grid – also made an excellent start getting past the Honda of Dan Rowbottom around the outside at Clervaux on the first lap and then taking Turkington to move into second and claim a one-two at the chequered flag for the Bristol Street Motors with EXCELR8 Trade Price Cars.com team.
Turkington held P3 for the remainder of the race to secure a second podium finish of the day, while behind him Jake Hill nudged past Dan Rowbottom for the two drivers to finish fourth and fifth respectively.
Arguably the drive of the day, however, came from Gordon Shedden who – thanks to a suspension failure on the opening lap of race one – started race two at the back of the grid and, despite overtaking proving to be very challenging, surged through the field to finish 12th and was then rewarded with a reverse grid pole for race three.
… and it really proved to be a case of zero to hero for Flash as he put the first lap retirement in race one behind him to claim a lights to flag win in race three.
Behind the three-time Champion’s Halford’s Racing with Cataclean Honda came the Rich Energy BTC Racing Honda of Josh Cook in second and the Toyota GAZOO Racing Corolla of Shedden’s brother-in-law Rory Butcher in third.
A trio of BMWs occupied fourth to sixth as Team BMW’s Stephen Jelley edged out his West Surrey Racing stablemates Jake Hill and Colin Turkington, while Tom Ingram’s seventh place ensured that he would take a three-point lead in the Driver’s Championship as we head into the mid-season break, just ahead of Josh Cook and Colin Turkington.
In fact, with five out of the ten meetings of this years British Touring Car Championship under our belts, drivers and teams who have chosen Cobra seats top the standings in the Drivers standings, Manufacturers/Constructors standings, Teams standings, Independent Drivers standings, Independent Teams standings and the Goodyear Wingfoot award!