Andrew Jordan has kickstarted his British Touring Car Championship title with two victories at Brands Hatch over the weekend.
The Pirtek Racing driver, who also secured pole position, has taken the early lead in the championship. He has a two point advantage over Matt Neal who in turn is just a point clear of Colin Turkington. Neal’s Honda team-mate is in fourth place with 40 points. The Honda duo are racing with a new car this season – the Civic Tourer. In qualifying on Saturday, Jordan pipped Jason Plato to the first pole of the year by just 0.012s. The top ten also featured Turkington, Neal, Shedden, Tom Ingram, Aron Smith, Alain Menu, Mat Jackson, and Rob Collard. Overall the top 23 were separated by under a second, demonstrating just how competitive this touring car season looks to be. Dan Welch was missing from the running with it being revealed that he would debut at Donington due to the car not being ready.
In the first race, Plato and Jordan managed to block off the fast starting BMW of Turkington. The Northern Irish man maintained third for a while before being passed by the Honda duo of Neal and later Shedden. Racing with a piece of body work hanging off his car Turkington also lost places to his team-mate Collard, Rob Austin, and Smith in the Volkswagen. Jordan had a bit of a hairy moment when he went into Paddock Hill Bend sideways but he managed to correct it and went on to beat Plato by five tenths of a second, with third place nine seconds back. In true British Touring Car fashion there were some incidents throughout the race. Returnee Menu had a spin at Paddock Hill Bend on the opening lap but managed to keep his car out of the barriers and continued. Former team-mates Smith and Jackson had a coming together, dropping Jackson right to the back of the pack. He fought his way back up to 15th – the last points scoring position – and Smith was penalised, dropping five places for race two. He appealed the decision and started in his original grid slot – seventh – but the appeal was dismissed and so he served the penalty in race three. Martin Depper and James Cole also had a coming together, an incident which left Cole with a broken suspension. Depper was penalised and received his first strike of the year. Marc Hynes failed to start the race.
Race two was also won by Jordan this time finishing ahead of Shedden and Turkington. Race one’s second place finisher Plato failed to get away at the start of the race but did get going and finished in the points. A safety car was deployed on lap two with Chris Stockton’s car beached in the gravel. Turkington wasted no time in passing both of his team-mates – Collard and Nick Foster – and eventually finished on the podium. After a disappointing start to his BTCC career, failing to start the first race, Hynes was disqualified from the race two results after an accident with Depper who was also having a disappointing time of it. Following the race the honour was bestowed to Fabrizio Giovinardi – who finished tenth – to select the reverse grid, and he picked number six. This meant that for the third and final race of the day the eBay Motors duo of Collard and Foster would line-up on the front row of the grid.
It wasn’t either of the front row starters who won the final race of the day however, but their team-mate Turkington. He finished in front of Neal and Plato. It was an eBay Motors 1-2-3 for the initial stages of the race, with Collard and Foster holding their own as Turkington pulled away. Foster was soon taken out of the equation when he was handed a drive-through penalty for being in front of his box at the start of the race. Plato fought his way through the field after disappointment in race two, and fought with his old adversary Neal. Ingram was the unlucky driver who had an incident in the third and final race of the day after a coming together with Menu. The safety car was deployed as a consequence and the field bunched up. Menu took advantage of being the lead driver on the medium compound and fought his was through to fifth place.
The next round is 17 days away, taking place at Donington Park.