Irish Drivers Around The Globe- with Andy Gray

Colin Turkington recovered from a disastrous start to record a podium in the opening round of the British Touring Car Championship at Brands Hatch.

The Portadown driver only made it metres off the start line in race one as Matt Neal collided with his WSR BMW 125i as the cars pulled away from the grid, putting both out of the race on the spot. It wasn’t the dream start for Turkington, who felt that it was an avoidable incident despite the Steward’s decision that it was a racing incident.

“I got a great jump off the line and I managed to get in the hole between the two Hondas and Matt has just come across and tagged me in the left rear,” he said about the clash, “There was a gap there for me to go through. Matt kept closing the door and he’s hit my left rear, which shows I was quite the way through.”

Race two marked the beginning of a stellar recovery for Turkington, who was a man on a mission as he worked his way up from 32nd on the grid to 10th.

After Rob Austin’s exclusion for overtaking under double waved yellows, Turkington started race three from fifth, from where he continued his progress up the order. He found himself in a tussle with BMW team mate Andy Jordan on the final few laps, but despite overtaking the entire grid up to that point, Turkington had to settle for second place.

“It is so easy to let the head drop,” he told ITV, “I’ve been here so long now I know I have just to look forward to the next race. The hard work was done in race two carving my way through the field but the guys gave me a great BMW for race three. I couldn’t believe the pace. I got close at the end to Andy. We’ve had our instructions so I wasn’t going to try anything silly!”

 

BTCC Qualifying                                                                     BTCC Race One

  1. Jeff Smith (Eurotech Racing)                        1. Tom Ingram (Speedworks Motorsport)
  2. Tom Ingram (Speedworks Motorsport)       2. Gordon Shedden (Honda Yuasa Racing)
  3. Gordon Shedden (Honda Yuasa Racing)      3. Adam Morgan (Cicely Racing)
  4. Colin Turkington (Team BMW)                   14. Aron Taylor-Smith (MG Racing/888)
  5. Aron Taylor-Smith (MG Racing/888)         21. Chris Smiley (BTC Norlin Racing)
  6. Chris Smiley (BTC Norlin Racing)              DNF Colin Turkington (Team BMW)

Dublin driver Aron Taylor-Smith also picked up points on his debut weekend as a works driver for MG. Taylor-Smith was the leading MG in 14th in race one, following that up by coming home 15th in race two. The 27-year-old picked up his best result of the day, crossing the line in 12th place as he completed a solid weekend’s work.

 

BTCC Race Two                                                                    BTCC Race Three

  1. Gordon Shedden (Honda Yuasa Racing)         1. Andrew Jordan (Pirtek Racing/Team BMW)
  2. Rob Collard (Team BMW)                                 2. Colin Turkington (Team BMW)
  3. Tom Ingram (Speedworks Motorsport)          3. Tom Chilton (Power Maxed Racing)
  4. Colin Turkington (Team BMW)                        4. Matt Neal (Honda Yuasa Racing)
  5. Aron Taylor-Smith (MG Racing/888)            12. Aron Taylor-Smith (MG Racing/888)

            DNF. Chris Smiley (BTC Norlin Racing)               25. Chris Smiley (BTC Norlin Racing)

It was a more difficult weekend for Carrickfergus Chris Smiley, who is racing for new team BTC Norlin Racing. Limited running in qualifying, due to a handful of red flags and then rain, hampered Smiley, who started 28th but stayed out of trouble in race one to come home 21st. Race two was more impressive from Smiley, who had made his way up into the points until a mechanical issue dropped the 25-year-old out of the race with six laps to go. Starting at the back in race three, Smiley rounded off his weekend with a 25th placed finish, however, the pace in his Chevrolet Cruze means that points will be inevitable as the season goes on.

 

BTCC Standings

  1. Gordon Shedden (Honda Yuasa Racing) 48 5. Rob Collard (Team BMW) 36
  2. Tom Ingram (Speedworks Motorsport) 42 7. Colin Turkington (Team BMW) 26
  3. Andrew Jordan (Pirtek Racing/Team BMW) 41 14. Aron Taylor-Smith (MG Racing) 7
  4. Adam Morgan (Cicely Racing) 39 28. Chris Smiley (BTC Norlin Racing) 0

 

In the BTCC-supporting Porsche Carrera Cup, Charlie Eastwood picked up two second placed finishes as he made a strong start to the campaign.

“The track is so tight and hard to pass at Brands, especially when you have a driver like Dan [Cammish] ahead of you who won’t make many mistakes,” said the 21-year-old, “The Redline Racing guys did a mega job to give us both the pace today and we are much closer than we were last year, so it puts us in a good position moving forward in this year’s championship.”

Daniel Harper also put in a strong showing as he hunts for the overall Ginetta Junior title after collecting the Rookie Cup last year. The Hillsborough based driver was running in third position in race one, but a spin dropped him down to seventeenth. A remarkable recovery witnessed the 16-year-old fight back to ninth in race one, before taking his first podium of the season in race two.

“I’ve come away with more points than I did here twelve months ago which is a great start,” said Harper, “Now we go to Donington Park with fond memories of last year. We got a third, second and first then, but we want a couple of wins this time around!

The next round of the BTCC takes place on Easter weekend at Donington Park, where all of our local racers will be aiming for strong results.

Meanwhile in Formula E, Adam Carroll picked up his maiden points in the Mexico City ePrix. The Portadown driver survived chaos in the last few laps as drivers around him collided to pick up an eighth placed finish, a result which moves him up to 17th placed in the championship after a tricky start to the season.

“For our fourth race ever, it’s really positive”, said Carroll, “Hopefully this is the start of more to come, but we’re keeping our feet on the ground and still have a lot to learn. This Championship is very competitive, so to just score points, especially for a new team, is a big achievement.”

 

There was also a strong opening weekend of the Blancpain GT Series Sprint Cup for Steven Kane and Andrew Watson at Misano. Kane and team mate Vincent Abril had an impressive weekend for Bentley Racing, coming home fourth in the Qualifying Race before the duo crossed the line second in the Sprint Race on Sunday, a result which leaves them second in the standings.

Watson and Rob Bell had a disappointing Qualifying Race, finishing 18th, but a storming first stint from Watson in the Sprint Race saw the #59 Strakka Racing McLaren rise from 18th to 9th, with Bell grabbing another spot late on as the duo finished 8th.  Jonny Kane had a disappointing event as a first lap crash in the endurance race ruled his Strakka Racing run McLaren out of the rest of the weekend’s action.

Until the next time,

Andy Gray

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