GRAY AREA- IRISH DRIVERS AROUND THE GLOBE- WITH @AndyGrayNI #MSIRL

Colin Turkington stormed to victory in race three in the third round of the British Touring Car Championship at Thruxton. Turkington sled away from pole position, holding off Tom Ingram and Jack Goff to take BMW’s 100th win in the BTCC. It was a strong weekend for Turkington, as he claimed three points hauls to stay in touch with Tom Ingram and Gordon Shedden at the top of the standings.

Turkington started the weekend in a quiet but strong fashion in race one, finishing seventh. His highlight of the race was overtaking Rob Austin and Mat Jackson in the same move. Matt Neal won the race, with the Honda Yuasa driver collecting his 60th BTCC win, ahead of team mate Shedden and Eurotech’s Jack Goff.

Turkington had another steady outing in the second race of the day, battling with Austin before the red flag came out for an accident at Church corner involving Dan Lloyd, Aron Taylor-Smith and Senna Proctor. After the restart, Turkington held sixth place before another red flag ended race two early, Martin Depper crashing heavily at Village. Turkington’s Team BMW team mate Rob Collard took victory, ahead of Shedden and Speedworks driver Ingram.

Drawn on pole for the race three, Turkington stormed away at the front to take his second victory of the season and his 43rd win in the championship.

It was a better weekend for Chris Smiley, who finally picked up his first BTCC points at Thruxton after a frustrating start to the season. The Carrickfergus driver has had top-15 pace but his season has been riddled with bad luck and hampered by poor qualifying positions. After struggling to 27th in qualifying, Smiley moved up to 19th in race one, showing that his Chevrolet Cruze had strong race pace.

He moved up to 17th in race two before the red flag, narrowly missing the Lloyd, Taylor-Smith and Proctor accident directly behind him. At the restart, Smiley continued to work his way up the order, claiming 15th before Depper’s accident ended the race early.

Smiley started well in race three, running in 16th place, but lost momentum when overtaken by the charging Matt Neal, dropping down the order and leaving the former MINI Challenge champion in 18th.

It was another difficult weekend for Aron Taylor-Smith, who laboured to a 23rd place start in qualifying. The Dublin driver came home directly behind Smiley in race one, but his weekend would unravel in race two. Running three wide into the fast-right hander at Church corner with team mate Lloyd and Vauxhall’s Senna Proctor, contact with Proctor sent his MG stablemate flying into the barriers Church and causing extensive damage to Lloyd’s car.

Triple 888 Racing managed to fix Taylor-Smith’s hobbled car in the red flag period, but he could only make his way up to 27thbefore Depper’s accident. A quiet 25th place finish capped a disappointing and pointless weekend for Taylor-Smith, who will be aiming to bounce back at Oulton Park at the end of the month.

Turkington lies third in the standings after his victory, 19 points off leader Ingram while Smiley moves up to 25th after picking up his maiden points. Taylor-Smith lies 18th in the standings.

Daniel Harper continued his good form in the Ginetta Junior championship as he continued his title assault. He crossed the finish line fist in race one, but a track limits penalty demoted the Hillsborough teenager to fourth. He then produced one of the drives of the season in race two. Starting 16th in race two, Harper soared up the order, taking third place after a mature drive and a well deserved podium.

Cork’s Matt Griffin put the disappointment of Rockingham behind him with a 3rd place finish in LMGTE Am at Spa-Francorchamps. The result puts his team, Clearwater Racing, 2nd in the Championship as they head to the 24 Hours of Le Mans at the Circuit de la Sarthe.

In the Blancpain GT Sprint Cup Series at Brands Hatch, Donaghmore driver Andrew Watson finished 15th in the #59 McLaren, while Steven Kane and Vincent Abril’s #7 Bentley (above) finished 20th in the Qualifying Race.

In the Main Race, Ballynahinch driver Kane finished 13th while Watson and teammate Rob Bell crossed the line in 21st.

Comber’s Jonny Kane was ruled out of the weekend after team mate Loris Hezemans crashed heavily on Saturday.

Damien Faulkner is just back from COTA where his team mate crashed just as he was pitting for driver change, so he didn’t get to race! He is off to Silverstone tomorrow for Blancpain race with HTP in the mighty Merc. Damien is currently doing two series – the Continental Tyre Series in US and the Blancpain Endurance with HTP as well as coaching in another series in West coast of US- leaving him with just four weekends off between now and September!

That’s all for this time,

Andy

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