The 2014 British Touring Car Championship will officially be decided at Brands Hatch.
With 67 points available per race weekend, Jason Plato arrived at Silverstone needing to ensure that Colin Turkington did not outscore him by 12 points. The MG KX Clubcard Fuel Save driver managed to do just that and outscored Turkington by five points instead, reducing the deficit to 50 points. He did so by winning the first two races of the day, while Turkington finished second, but was unable to do anything to stop Turkington finishing ahead of him in race three, despite his best efforts.
Plato started the weekend by getting a bonus point for securing pole position. It was a close session, and the top five were separated by just a tenth of a second. Turkington lined up in second just 0.064s behind Plato and just 0.003s ahead of Sam Tordoff. Mat Jackson qualified in fourth place – 0.091s off pole position – with his former Airwaves Racing team-mate Aron Smith in fifth a tenth of a second down on Plato. Also qualifying in the top ten were Alain Menu, Tom Ingram, Marc Hynes, Adam Morgan and Rob Austin. Down to 23rd position was covered by under a second in a very close session.
Turkington got the better start of the two front row starters and picked up a point for leading a lap. Behind them Jackson slotted into third place. Turkington’s lead did not last long and Plato was back into the lead of the race on the third lap. Turkington had no answer and had to settle for second place and was involved in gaggle of seven cars who were fighting for the podium spots. He had to fend off a feisty Jackson but was able to hold on and finished just under a second and a half down on Plato. Jackson had to settle for third – just over a tenth of a second behind the eBay Motors driver – while Tordoff finished in fourth place. Menu, Smith, Rob Collard, Hynes, Austin and Andrew Jordan rounded out the top ten positions. Also finishing in the points were Jack Goff, Fabrizio Giovinardi, Jack Clarke, Gordon Shedden, and Nick Foster.
It was a similar result in race two with Plato losing the lead early on to Turkington but soon getting it back. Turkington was on soft tyres and started to fall away towards the end of the race, which was red flagged with just a lap remaining. The red flag was due to a heavy crash for Turkington’s eBay Motors team-mate Rob Collard. Clarke and Shedden were locked in battle and the former received a tap from the Honda Yuasa Racing driver. The tap was enough to send Clarke into a slide and he collected an unfortunate Collard, giving him a tap which was enough to send the car airborne and rolling several times. Reports afterwards suggested that Collard was OK – although understandably shaken and winded – and he was airlifted to hospital for precautionary checks. Due to the safety car being deployed and the subsequent red flag the results were counted back and classified on lap 20. Plato secured his second win of the day once again ahead of Turkington, this time by a second. Menu completed the podium positions. Also finishing in the top ten were M. Jackson, Smith, Tordoff, Giovinardi, Jordan, Warren Scott and Clarke. Shedden, Hynes, Matt Neal, Goff and Morgan also scored points.
As the driver who finished in tenth place, Clarke had the honours of selecting reverse grid pole position – he picked Giovinardi. There was drama before the race started as Tordoff’s car had problems and he failed to pull away for the warm-up lap with a lot of smoke billowing from his car. His grid slot was left empty – giving Turkington a clear run – and Giovinardi maintained the lead at the start of the race. Turkington progressed to fourth, after starting sixth, while Jackson passed his team-mate to be leading by the end of lap one. After its delayed start, there were further delays to racing action following a safety car deployment at the end of lap one. It was down to an incident involving Robb Holland, James Cole, and Martin Depper. Cole was tapped into a spin and he collected Holland, who was visibly angry about the accident as he was spotted gesticulating at Cole after the crash. Racing resumed on lap four and the number of laps was increased to 24. Turkington faced a difficult race behind Giovinardi as he tried to find a way past him but was unable to do so. Inevitably there was contact as Giovinardi fought to hold on to his position and Plato got involved by giving Turkington a tap. The eBay Motors car was able to hold onto his car and avoid collecting Giovinardi and went on to finish third. Jackson romped ahead at the front of the pack and won the race by nearly three seconds. Smith was a comfortable second with Turkington third ahead of championship rival Plato. Menu, Jordan, Morgan, Shedden, Scott and Goff were also in the top ten. Giovinardi salvaged points and finished ahead of Neal, Clarke, Newsham and Foster.
Turkington’s three podiums were enough to secure him the Independents Championship and post race he revealed that it felt as special to him as his first title in 2007 was, but he is still looking to win the main one. He goes to Brands Hatch in two weeks time with a 50 point lead which is comfortable but the championship can easily be turned on its head by one incident.