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The Dunlop MSA British Touring Car Championship event at Thruxton [7-8 May] proved to be a huge success with a record 27,000 fans descending on Hampshire for rounds 7, 8 and 9 of the 2016 campaign.
Spectators basked in the searing heat and sunshine as the BTCC provided yet more thrills and spills with Adam Morgan, Andrew Jordan and Mat Jackson all walking away with a victory apiece.
The support series – the Renault UK Clio Cup, Simpson Race Products Ginetta Junior Championship, F4 British Championship and Protyre Motorsport Ginetta GT5 Championship – were no less spectacular, producing mesmerising side-by-side duels and frenetic slipstreaming scraps. With so much going on, it really was a case of not knowing where to look!
And that was just the on-track element. Before the racing got underway on Sunday morning, the pit-lane was packed for the BTCC autograph session, enabling thousands of fans to grab selfies with the stars of the show.
With temperatures reaching 24 degrees on race day, those in attendance weren’t just treated to on-track entertainment with plenty to take in around the Andover venue. Skid Pan rides were available whilst the British Army made their presence known with an Apache Helicopter sitting on display throughout the two days
Thruxton Circuit Managing Director, Bill Coombs, said: “It was a great weekend at Thruxton and one that saw one of the strongest crowds make their way through the gates since probably the Super Touring days. The numbers have been consistently growing year-on-year.
“We had fantastic weather all weekend and the appeal of the BTCC around the fastest track on the calendar continues to provide a great appeal to fans. The racing from the BTCC and the associated categories was simply sublime too, the level of competition has been raised even more in 2016 and that was apparent in every race.
“I would just like to thank all of the teams from Thruxton and the British Automobile Racing Club (BARC) for their continued support and hard work to ensure events like this past weekend run as smoothly as possible.”
Tom Ingram took pole position for the first BTCC race and breaks lap record in Hampshire
Tom Ingram took his second pole position of the season and broke the BTCC lap record in qualifying for Round 10 of the 2016 Dunlop MSA British Touring Car Championship.
The Speedworks Motorsport driver experienced a stressful opening to the session as he had his first two flying lap times removed by officials for not respecting track limits. Ingram wasn’t alone in being pegged back, however, as a host of drivers were penalised for cutting the final chicane in the early stages.
Championship leader Matt Neal was among those to be demoted, but the multiple champ responded brilliantly with a staggering lap time in his ballast-laden Honda Civic Type R. The Halfords Yuasa Racing driver held provisional pole until Ingram’s effort, and he would eventually have to settle for third due to a Flying Scotsman.
Ordinarily you would expect that term to be reserved for reigning champion Gordon Shedden, but on this occasion it was impressive teenager Aiden Moffat who wowed the crowds. The Laser Tools Racing driver starred during practice earlier today and he duly backed that up by making the front row in qualifying – his best ever result.
Neal had parked his Honda long before the finish, believing that he’d dragged every last ounce of performance from his car. Although dropping to third late on, the experienced racer will be pleased to have fended off another eye-catching attack from MG’s young duo.
Ashley Sutton and Josh Cook produced a front row lock-out at Donington Park last time out, this time they'll lined up fourth and fifth on the grid, with the latter getting the better of his rookie team-mate on this occasion. Both drivers worked together for much of the session, benefitting from a tow through Thruxton’s high-speed sections for each of their best-timed tours.
Adam Morgan confirmed the performance of the Mercedes A-Class by planting his WIX Racing machine inside the top six – a result that had seemed some way off earlier in the day after a high-speed shunt forced the squad to produce some substantial repairs.
Jeff Smith made the top ten for the first time since Rockingham in 2013 as the Eurotech racer ended up just 0.015s behind Morgan. Andrew Jordan couldn’t match his practice pace and ended up eighth in his Pirtek Racing Ford Focus, whilst BKR’s Aron Smith and WSR’s Sam Tordoff completed the top ten order.
Tom Ingram said: “Awesome! Two poles out of three – that’s not a bad start to the season, is it? It was pretty sketchy early on, because I kept getting calls over the team radio saying ‘you’re quickest’, swiftly followed by ‘your lap time’s been removed’, so I knew I needed to calm down a bit. We had no ballast, which obviously played to our advantage and everything just hooked up perfectly. You’re never really sure where everybody is during practice and who’s sandbagging, but we knew we had some good pace in the car. The Speedworks boys are a great bunch of lads and having taken pole once at Brands Hatch, it instilled in us the belief that we could do it again – and now we have! I could definitely get used to this feeling. Pole position is one thing, however, and it’s vital that we now go on to score some good points tomorrow.”
Aiden Moffat said: “It’s a great feeling obviously. We came in a bit early and you’re sitting in the pits and it’s the most nerve-wracking thing in the world when you’re expecting a few names to creep up there. Before this, my best was eighth so to get right up there is brilliant. This year has been our best start since we’ve been involved in the BTCC. The guys in the team have given us a great set-up and a great car and it was all down to me then, and thankfully it all clicked. We’ll certainly be pushing hard. If Tom gets away well, he’s a fast, fast driver and it’d be silly to get caught up battling him. He’ll be a great person to try and latch onto. Matt Neal is always charging hard to try to get to the front, so my mirrors will be full if I can keep him behind off the start. You never know what will happen, but we’ll definitely give it a good go.”
Matt Neal said: “After making some changes between free practice and qualifying, I was hoping for the top six but thinking top ten was more realistic, so I’m over the moon to end up inside the top three. The Honda Civic Type R was just hooked-up, and I was certainly pretty committed round the back of the lap. The race might be a different affair for us – I’m not sure we will be quite so strong over a long run – but we’ll try to stay out of trouble and see what happens. Thruxton is notorious for tyre wear, so we’ll need to remain mindful of that.”
Josh Cook said: “It was a hell of a lap, I’m not going to lie! What we managed to get out of that car was awesome. Ash and I were really working well together, which is how we got the time – he towed me and I towed him, and we got that extra time out of it. The guys have done a great job with the car. There is a little more to find just to extract that final bit – the top few are really on it. We can certainly race from here, so we’ll just try and convert it into some solid points and go from there.”
Ashley Sutton said: “I’m very pleased. We suffered a few issues in practice. Between the two sessions combined, I only put ten laps together leading into qualifying – to have had so little track time around here in a touring car before going and putting the car fifth on the grid, I’m over the moon. I really want to focus on looking after the tyres, but we’ve got to push forward. I want to start getting some podiums and that’s my aim – although to stay in the top five and score solid points would be just as good, to be honest.”
2016 Dunlop MSA British Touring Car Championship – Qualifying – Thruxton:
1 Tom INGRAM (GBR) Speedworks Motorsport 1m16.161s
2 Aiden MOFFAT (GBR) Laser Tools Racing +0.033s
3 Matt NEAL (GBR) Halfords Yuasa Racing +0.086s
4 Josh COOK (GBR) MG Racing RCIB Insurance +0.416s
5 Ashley SUTTON (GBR) MG Racing RCIB Insurance +0.566s
6 Adam MORGAN (GBR) WIX Racing +0.650s
7 Jeff SMITH (GBR) Eurotech Racing +0.665s
8 Andrew JORDAN (GBR) Motorbase Performance +0.684s
9 Aron SMITH (IRL) BKR +0.703s
10 Sam TORDOFF (GBR) Team JCT600 Racing with GardX +0.726s
11 Gordon SHEDDEN (GBR) Halfords Yuasa Racing +0.772s
12 Jack GOFF (GBR) Team IHG Rewards Club +0.828s
13 Colin TURKINGTON (GBR) Silverline Subaru BMR Racing +0.928s
14 Mat JACKSON (GBR) Motorbase Performance +0.951s
15 Jake HILL (GBR) RCIB Insurance Racing +1.076s
16 Daniel LLOYD (GBR) Eurotech Racing +1.091s
17 Martin DEPPER (GBR) Eurotech Racing +1.092s
18 Robert COLLARD (GBR) Team JCT600 Racing with GardX +1.300s
19 Hunter ABBOTT (GBR) Power Maxed Racing +1.355s
20 Daniel WELCH (GBR) Goodstone Racing +1.368s
21 Jason PLATO (GBR) Silverline Subaru BMR Racing +1.483s
22 Michael EPPS (GBR) RCIB Insurance Racing +1.515s
23 Matt SIMPSON (GBR) Speedworks Motorsport +1.536s
24 Rob AUSTIN (GBR) Handy Motorsport +1.719s
25 Ollie JACKSON (GBR) AmD Tuning.com +2.492s
26 Alex MARTIN (GBR) Dextra Racing +2.544s
27 Kelvin FLETCHER (GBR) Power Maxed Racing +2.667s
28 Warren SCOTT (GBR) Silverline Subaru BMR Racing +2.718s
29 James COLE (GBR) Silverline Subaru BMR Racing +2.984s
30 Mark HOWARD (GBR) BKR +3.949s
31 Stewart LINES (GBR) Maximum Motorsport +4.455s
32 Chris SMILEY (GBR) TLC/RCIB Insurance Racing NO TIME
Saturday also saw the first races of the weekend for the Protyre Motorsport Ginetta GT5 Challenge and the newly renamed British F4 Championship.
Petru Florescu won in the F4 British Championship. Full race report here
Ollie Chadwick won in the Protyre Motorsport Ginetta GT5 Challenge.
Morgan scores podium hat-trick at Thruxton - BTCC wins for Adam Morgan, Andrew Jordan and Mat Jackson
Before the racing got underway on Sunday morning, the pit-lane was packed for the BTCC autograph session, enabling thousands of fans to grab selfies with the stars of the show.
WIX Racing’s Adam Morgan took a win and two further podiums in the Dunlop MSA British Touring Car Championship, whilst Motorbase Performance duo Andrew Jordan and Mat Jackson claimed a victory apiece at the UK’s fastest circuit.
Podiums for Rob Collard and Matt Neal propelled the experienced pairing to the championship summit, with the top eight drivers now covered by just 21 points in the overall standings.
A fast and frenetic triple-header of races was played out in front of a huge crowd in Hampshire – basked in glorious sunshine ¬– and the packed banks of spectators were provided with yet more high-class entertainment.
Morgan won a breathtaking opener, having carved his way through the melee to become the first double winner of the 2016 season.
The race began in a frenzied fashion and that theme was maintained throughout the shortened contest, which initially looked to favour pole-sitter Tom Ingram off the line. A slipstreaming contest commenced down to the first chicane, however, which left Ingram alongside both Neal and Aiden Moffat.
Three into one simply wouldn’t go and when the dust settled it was Neal’s Honda out front while Moffat and Ingram were shuffled down the order following slight contact.
MG’s Josh Cook and the Mercedes of Morgan slipped through into second and third respectively, whilst the other MG6 of Ashley Sutton went off on lap two while tussling with Ingram.
Neal led from Cook, Morgan, Moffat and Ingram at the end of the second tour, with positions changing hands at almost every corner. Morgan then blasted by Cook into the final chicane, and a bevy of others further demoted the MG Racing RCIB Insurance driver as he tried to regain his composure.
Morgan hounded Neal’s ballast-laden Honda Civic Type R and produced a stunning move on the leader across the start/finish line at the end of lap four, as a queue of some seven cars jostled for places.
Moffat clawed his way past Neal too, seemingly completing his recovery while potentially rewarding Mercedes with a maiden one-two in the BTCC. It wasn’t to be though, as a puncture forced him onto the grass and back down the order on lap 10. Jackson’s Ford Focus incurred a similar fate at the same time, leaving debris all over the circuit.
By the time the leaders next blasted their way down Brooklands and Woodham Hill, Neal’s Honda had too picked up a puncture. The triple champion attempted to pull into the pit lane but was collected by an unsighted Cook, which resulted in Gordon Shedden, Jeff Smith and Jake Hill, among others, being caught up in the incident.
With cars now littering the track, officials were left with little choice but to cut the race short, and duly the Thruxton marshals waved the red flags to signal the end of the showdown.
With the contest being officially classified at the end of lap 11 it left Morgan with a richly deserved win ahead of the recovering Ingram and Andrew Jordan’s Ford Focus, who had himself made steady progress up the order.
Jordan then joined a list of seven different race winners from the opening eight BTCC races, after the Pirtek Racing driver produced an impressive drive in the second bout of the day.
Morgan made a steady getaway from pole position and the WIX Racing driver coped well with maximum success ballast in the first half of the race. Jordan had nipped by Ingram’s Speedworks Toyota off the line and worse was to come for the latter when he was adjudged to have jumped the start.
A subsequent drive through penalty for Ingram forced him out of the fight as a gaggle of five cars moved into contention. Morgan led from Jordan and the WSR trio of Collard, Jack Goff and Sam Tordoff in close company – the BMWs coming alive in the battle for victory.
The pivotal moment came on lap 11 as Jordan scythed his way past Morgan, with the Mercedes struggling to hang on after a valiant effort at the head of the pack. Morgan was displaced down the order again by Collard’s Team JCT600 with GardX BMW, but he fended off further attacks from the now trio of cars behind him.
Incredibly Halfords Yuasa Racing’s Gordon Shedden had hauled his Honda onto the lead quintet in the closing stages, having started from the back of the grid. While Jordan was busy taking the lead, Shedden caught Goff and Tordoff napping to slip into fourth place. That's how it stayed until the finish, and Jordan was left celebrating his first victory in nearly two years.
Motorbase Performance then scored its second win of the day as Jackson followed Jordan’s race two success with his own dynamic display in the Thruxton finale.
The victory also marked Jackson’s second of the 2016 campaign as he joined Morgan as the only two drivers to record double wins so far this season.
Off the line, Jackson’s Ford Focus blasted past the Proton of pole-sitter Dan Welch, and despite being kept honest by the chasing pack throughout, he was able to cruise to the chequered flag in relative comfort.
After a series of incidents, Team IHG Rewards Club’s Goff inherited second until Neal’s Honda got by on lap eight. Then, as the second Honda of Shedden attacked Goff for a spot on the podium, closing as the duo swept through Church, the BMW locked up going into the final chicane and the pair made contact. Shedden retired with damage after limping over the start/finish line while Goff could only manage an eventual 18th place.
The final spot on the rostrum went to Morgan – making it a hat-trick on the day – as he crossed the line just 0.198s ahead of MG pair Cook and Sutton.
Collard claimed sixth and with it the joint lead of the championship alongside Neal. The top eight drivers are covered by just 21 points – with Morgan, Jackson, Shedden, Goff, Tordoff and Jordan all in contention.
West Surrey Racing now leads the Manufacturers’/Constructors’ Championship from Honda, although the latter has maintained its lead of the HiQ Teams’ standings.
Morgan tops the Independents’ Trophy for drivers while Motorbase Performance maintained its position at the summit of the Independent Teams’ table.
MG’s Sutton heads the Jack Sears Trophy although Michael Epps has closed the gap after a hugely impressive day in his Toyota Avensis.
Adam Morgan said: “It was incredible. It didn’t feel like I was trying too hard from the beginning and I was taking time out of people all the way round. It’s been a mega job by everyone in the team. The car was hooked up and I couldn’t have asked for much more. Every time I got the chance, I was asking my team what the gap was and just trying to conserve as much as I could. I saw that Mat (Jackson) held everyone up for me and then later on there were a couple of incidents, so it was a tricky one and a fantastic win. I love Thruxton – it just seems to work.”
Andrew Jordan said: “I got a bit emotional initially because it’s such a big relief. A lot of the media like to remind you when you last won a race. I knew it’d come when the time was right and when everything fell into place. Adam (Morgan) drove a really good race but I could see where he was struggling off the chicane. He gave me good room and saw I had enough on him so it was fair enough. It was a great race with great guys. I love racing with people like this. There’s just a great respect between us.”
Mat Jackson said: “It had been tough earlier on. Race one was a bit of a nightmare. To come through and pick up eighth in race two, and get the reverse grid massively helped. We’ve ended the day well but it’d been a difficult day. It was very warm and it’s hard on tyres at Thruxton. The downside is we go to Oulton with ballast, but success comes at a price and that’s the price you pay. We’ve certainly got a car that can challenge and I feel very confident and comfortable in it. It’s frustrating that we’ve had two zeroes. Everyone can say the same though. Ifs, buts and maybes don’t win the championship.”
Matt Neal said: “It was certainly good to finish on a high – it makes the journey home a lot more enjoyable! It was a bit of a shame overall because in truth, it was a weekend that had promised so much more and I was staring down the barrel of a gun until the last race! Thruxton has always been a Honda circuit, and we proved that again with the ballast on-board in qualifying. I was surprised just how strong we were carrying so much ballast in race one and the puncture was nobody’s fault. The boys did a stellar job to get us out again for race two in the nick of time – they had to deal with not just one but two cars in a million pieces – and then I was able to open the car up again in race three and was flying at the end. I would never have thought I’d leave here still leading the championship after the first two races, so all’s well that ends well, as they say.”
Rob Collard said: “I’m absolutely delighted to be joint leading the championship after three race weekends – it’s fantastic. It shows that age is only a number with the two oldest boys at the top! It’s experience that’s counting at the moment. I struggled in qualifying yesterday and went to bed thinking ‘my championship’s over’ but it came back to me on race day. We changed the car overnight and dialled the BMW in. We fettled to compensate for the ballast in each race and the car was the best it has been in race three.”
2016 Dunlop MSA British Touring Car Championship – Round 7 – Thruxton:
1 Adam MORGAN (GBR) WIX Racing 11 laps
2 Tom INGRAM (GBR) Speedworks Motorsport +3.310s
3 Andrew JORDAN (GBR) Motorbase Performance +3.820s
4 Jeff SMITH (GBR) Eurotech Racing +5.115s
5 Martin DEPPER (GBR) Eurotech Racing +5.824s
6 Robert COLLARD (GBR) Team JCT600 Racing with GardX +6.464s
7 Sam TORDOFF (GBR) Team JCT600 Racing with GardX +8.179s
8 Jack GOFF (GBR) Team IHG Rewards Club +8.179s
9 Daniel WELCH (GBR) Goodstone Racing +8.672s
10 Jake HILL (GBR) RCIB Insurance Racing +8.809s
2016 Dunlop MSA British Touring Car Championship – Round 8 – Thruxton:
1 Andrew JORDAN (GBR) Motorbase Performance 12 laps
2 Robert COLLARD (GBR) Team JCT600 Racing with GardX +0.401s
3 Adam MORGAN (GBR) WIX Racing 1.791s
4 Gordon SHEDDEN (GBR) Halfords Yuasa Racing +1.978s
5 Jack GOFF (GBR) Team IHG Rewards Club +2.786s
6 Sam TORDOFF (GBR) Team JCT600 Racing with GardX +3.017s
7 Daniel LLOYD (GBR) Eurotech Racing +10.738s
8 Mat JACKSON (GBR) Motorbase Performance +6.201s
9 Daniel WELCH (GBR) Goodstone Racing +7.034s
10 Rob AUSTIN (GBR) Handy Motorsport +7.260s
2016 Dunlop MSA British Touring Car Championship – Round 9 – Thruxton:
1 Mat JACKSON (GBR) Motorbase Performance 12 laps
2 Matt NEAL (GBR) Halfords Yuasa Racing +0.256s
3 Adam MORGAN (GBR) WIX Racing +4.568s
4 Josh COOK (GBR) MG Racing RCIB Insurance +4.766s
5 Ashley SUTTON (GBR) MG Racing RCIB Insurance +5.006s
6 Robert COLLARD (GBR) Team JCT600 Racing with GardX +5.460s
7 Rob AUSTIN (GBR) Handy Motorsport +6.082s
8 Sam TORDOFF (GBR) Team JCT600 Racing with GardX +6.291s
9 Daniel LLOYD (GBR) Eurotech Racing +10.533s
10 Michael EPPS (GBR) RCIB Insurance Racing +11.333s
Renault UK Clio Cup
Whorton-Eales made a rocket-like start to punch through from fifth on the grid into first place by the time the 21-car grid arrived at the third bend, Campbell.
From there he was never headed but had to keep a close eye on his mirrors as first Team Cooksport’s Lee Pattison and then Price threatened him. Pattison had held second from the start but after a safety car period he was demoted to third and then fourth by first Price and then Bushell entering Church Corner.
Bushell was himself fighting back through the order after a dismal opening lap that saw him lose his pole position advantage and then tumble to seventh. Third was his reward and he will start this afternoon’s second race from pole again…
During his fightback he had also had to pass WDE Motorsport’s Paul Rivett for whom fourth meant he consolidated his championship lead. Pattison took fifth ahead of Anton Spires for whom sixth marked his and the PP Motorsport team’s best result yet.
Meanwhile the race was a disaster for title protagonist Paul Streather who finished down in 15th after losing a number of places when his Finesse Motorsport car ran wide off track briefly as several other drivers around him tripped up over one another.
It all means Rivett still leads the table, now by 20 points from Pattison and then Bushell who have both moved past Streather into second and third. Whorton-Eales’s win – he also earned two bonus points for setting the fastest lap – has moved him up to fifth. Notably he is 36 points adrift of leader Rivett with a maximum of 34 available (win and fastest lap) from this afternoon’s second race…
Whorton-Eales commented: “That’s probably the best start I’ve made in a race and, even better, the others behind me kept fighting which enabled me to make the break and break the tow to them. It worked perfectly for me.”
Price’s second place also gave him victory in the Graduates Cup for young, first-season drivers. He said: “I’m very happy with that result – I’ve felt it’s been coming for some time. It’s a shame we didn’t have a few more laps, though – I was catching Ant and Bushell was catching me. It could have been very interesting.”
And Bushell added: “A bit frustrating – Pattison made a mistake and I got held up and five came past in a row. We had the pace to win that race, just not the luck but at least I’ve finished ahead of those ahead of me in the championship and we start race two from pole.”
Meanwhile completing the top ten in this morning’s first race were Pyro’s David Dickenson and Senna Proctor, Ciceley Motorsport’s Max Coates (up from 16th to ninth) and Cooksport’s George Jackson.
The safety car period alluded to above was triggered by a heavy crash for Ciceley’s Dan Zelos when he tangled with Vanquish/WDE’s Paul Plant starting lap five as they fought over fifth position. Plant was later involved in another incident also involving JamSport Racing’s Luke Kidsley which saw both their cars crash out at the chicane and force the race to be stopped several laps from home.
Team Pyro’s Bushell, who started from pole position, looked to have the race in his pocket until three laps from home a five-second penalty wiped out his handsome advantage over second-placed Whorton-Eales.
Bushell still went on to win on the road but with the penalty applied he lost out to Whorton-Eales by just over a second. Meanwhile Pyro’s Josh Price continued his great Thruxton weekend with third place to add to the second he took in this morning’s race.
Whorton-Eales commented: “That’s a bit of a cruel way for Mike to lose the win as he’d really built up a lead over the rest of us but I got a pit board signal a few laps from home telling me he’d got a penalty so I pushed as hard as I could and it worked out for me. A win this morning and another this afternoon on a circuit which hasn’t been the best for me in the past – it’s the perfect day.”
Bushell said: “Of course I am disappointed to lose out this way as I’d made the break and got everything under control – or so I thought. But a third this morning and a second in this race are still good results and they’ve brought us right into play in the title race.”
Price added: “I’m very happy with third after the second I got in this morning’s race. I had to drive every lap very precisely to keep up with Ant but I definitely see these results as a bit of a breakthrough – I’ve definitely learnt a few things this weekend which are good for the future.”
JamSport driver Whorton-Eales’s win is his third in six races and an eighth-place finish for championship leader, WDE Motorsport’s Paul Rivett, means the top five placings in the points table have bunched right up.
Rivett continues to lead but by the much reduced margin of just six points from Bushell who moves into second. Team Cooksport’s Lee Pattison – fourth in this afternoon’s race after fighting through from tenth – is third with Whorton-Eales now fourth just 18 points adrift of Rivett.
Meanwhile fifth behind Pattison in this afternoon’s race was PP Motorsport’s Anton Spires – the result is the best so far for both team and driver in their debut UK Clio Cup season. Sixth place for Finesse Motorsport’s Paul Streather keeps him in the title hunt although he has fallen from second to fifth in the standings.
Pyro’s David Dickenson was a strong seventh ahead of Rivett who took eighth after spinning off the track while holding second position early on. Team BMR with Pyro’s Senna Proctor and Ciceley Motorsport’s Max Coates completed the top ten.
Ginetta Junior Championship
Ollie Chadwick has further cemented his position at the top of the Protyre Motorsport Ginetta GT5 Challenge championship after a flawless weekend at Thruxton saw him come away with a maximum points haul in Hampshire.
In qualifying, it was the Ginetta junior graduates who came out on top, thanks in part, to their years of experience around the high-speed Thruxton circuit. Ollie Chadwick claimed pole by almost a second over his fellow front row starter Matt Chapman. Brothers Ryan and Jonny Hadfield locked out the second row of the grid, whilst Nick Zapolski and Ian Robinson started the first race from fifth and sixth respectively.
Chadwick enjoyed a storming start and was gifted a relatively trouble-free time during the 12 lap opening race as he drove a lights-to-flag victory. Behind, it was a different story as the Hadfields ran nose-to-tail with Chapman, Robinson and Zapolski.
A juggle up front saw Chapman sweep into second, whilst the guys relived their Ginetta Junior days and trade places – and the odd bit of paint – as they quarrelled over the final place on the rostrum. Jonny Hadfield didn’t make things easy for himself, he dropped down to sixth before he eventually climbed back to third after making a pass on older brother Ryan. The two made light contact and Ryan was left to settle for tenth as he spun out on the penultimate lap.
Behind, Ian Robinson finished in fifth and took the newly created AM class win, after keeping Pro drivers Matt Flowers, Jack Minshaw and Alex Toth-Jones at bay during the 12 lap race. Behind, Matt Palmer completed the top 10, whilst Glen Broster finished as AM class runner up.
Race two saw much of the same out front as Ollie Chadwick breezed into the lead off the line – his years of Ginetta Junior racing at Thruxton serving him well. It was action stations behind though as Chapman slotted into second and tried to break free of J.Hadfield and Nick Zapolski.
As the latter two fought over third place, it allowed AM driver Ian Robinson to join the PRO party. He was soon hassling the two ahead as they traded places from corner to corner. After a momentary loss of traction for Hadfield, Zapolski and Robinson to swept through. Whilst Hadfield managed to reclaim one place, he couldn’t find a way around Zapolski who held firm to take third at the flag.
Big brother Hadfield meanwhile was busy enjoying his own race with Jack Minshaw and Jac Constable. Although there were a few hairy moments, he held them at bay to take an impressive seventh overall, just behind the two Matts – Flowers and Palmer.
The action wasn’t contained in the top 10 either. There were plenty of mini-battles throughout the field as the ITV cameras paid particular attention to the action between Steven Wells and Mark Davenport who were fighting over 11th and 12th.
As the action came to a close, it was a successful end to the Protyre Motorsport Ginetta GT5 Challenge’s BTCC support bill weekend. A perfect weekend for Chadwick means he further extends his advantage over Chapman and Ryan Hadfield in the points, whilst Matt Flowers and Chapman round out the top five on equal points.
The Simpson Race Products Ginetta Junior Championship kicked into high gear at Thruxton this weekend as title contenders Stuart Middleton, Will Tregurtha and Dave Wooder each enjoyed strong weekends – with Woder also claiming his maiden Junior win.
Seb Perez was the man on top after qualifying. Setting a time just 0.001s faster than championship leader Stuart Middleton, the KICK Start Energy Drink-backed driver claimed his maiden pole start around the high speed Thruxton circuit. Behind, Will Tregurtha and Kyle Hornby locked out the second row, whilst Cameron Roberts pipped top rookie driver Seb Priaulx to fifth position.
In the first race, Perez enjoyed a strong start and led into Allards for the first time. As the opening lap progressed though, the JHR Developments car was swamped by Middleton and Hornby at the complex. Contact between Perez and hornby saw the latter dropped down the order.
Perez’s race went from bad to worse when a drive through penalty for a false start saw him drop to the back of the field and mount his recovery drive. With Perez out of the picture, it fell to Wooder, Priaulx and Roberts to fight over the final spot on the podium.
What a fight it turned out to be. Roberts led the pack at the start, but it was Wooder who would eventually take the spot on the rostrum. It didn’t come easy though, as they were soon joined by Lewis Brown, Harry King – who also set the fastest lap of the race – Tom Wood and Charlie Fagg.
Scholarship winner Dan Harper was involved with the gaggle for the first four laps, having got into an impressive seventh position after starting fourteenth. A spin at Cobb saw him demoted to the back of the entire field though, and left him to recover to a final position of 15th.
In typical junior fashion, it was frantic fight and out front it was no different. Tregurtha and Middleton traded places at almost every corner as the clock counted down, much to the excitement of the swelling crowd in the Thruxton sunshine.
As the flag dropped, Middleton held his position out front by just a fraction of a second – the pair continuing their run of finishing every race inside the top five. Impressively, the top 12 cars were split by just five seconds as the action drew to a close.
The Juniors saved their best until last though as an epic finale unfolded at Thruxton. Middleton got the better start from pole position, but Tregurtha wasn’t hanging around as the pair traded places throughout the entire opening lap. Their fun was temporarily halted as a safety car was called at the end of the opening lap, but it was full speed ahead again on lap four.
As Tregurtha and Middleton squabbled, Lewis Brown and Dave Wooder joined the party and were soon right in the mix as Priaulx rounded out the top five. Contact for Middleton at Goodwood on lap six dropped him well down the order and mixed it up at the front.
With the top 15 cars split by just five seconds and only one lap left on the clock, it was a mad dash to the flag for the teenage racers. Although coming under immense pressure, Wooder held his own to take his first Junior win, whilst Tregurtha settled for second just ahead of Priaulx – who made his podium debut. Harry King celebrated his best result of the season with a fourth overall and second in the rookie class whilst Gamble rounded out the class podium and finished in 10th overall.
British F4 Championship
Petru Florescu got off to a flyer this weekend at Thruxton with a dominant lights to flag victory on the back of an emphatic pole in qualifying. The win sees him reclaim the lead in the F4 British Championship certified by FIA – powered by Ford standings. Meanwhile Carlin team-mate Devlin DeFrancesco came out on top after a thrilling tussle with JHR’s Sennan Fielding and Alex Quinn took yet another Rookie class win.
Florescu made a textbook getaway from pole and never looked back, pulling away from the field with ease and setting fastest lap in the process. It was an assured performance from the 17-year-old who came into the weekend with two Ford EcoBoost-powered wins already to his name.
Said the winner: “I pushed to pull away from the field as everyone was fighting for position behind me. The car is really quick and although I didn’t test here last month, I did some work in the simulator and was able to be on the pace from the start. Donington was a difficult weekend where we did the best we could, but to be back at the front here is great. I’m so happy we’re back!”
Although it was plain sailing out front for Florescu, it was anything but behind, with the race becoming something of a war of attrition at times.
Eyes were on DeFrancesco and Sennan Fielding throughout as they diced it out lap after lap. It was Fielding who managed to slip past DeFrancesco on the opening lap, but he could not escape the Canadian’s clutches; forcing to the JHR Developments driver to resort to some resolute defensive driving. DeFrancesco finally broke through on lap 12 with a perfectly judged move into Club.
Fielding was unrelenting and attempted to return the favour on the last lap, but was thwarted by DeFrancesco’s robust defence, triggering Fielding to clatter his way over the kerbs at the final chicane and forcing him into a drag race for the line with Alex Quinn.
A thrilled DeFrancesco explained: “It was a really good fight with Sennan. It was so exciting with lots of overtakes. I finally managed to make a move stick and it was nice to finish second. The last lap was nerve racking, especially at the last chicane. I think both of us demonstrated just how good the level of race craft is in the British F4 Championship.”
Added Fielding: “It was a hectic race. I wasn’t quite sure what was going on at some points. I would have like to have been two steps higher, but that’s the way it goes sometimes. I think we’ve got a little bit of work to do with the car to really take on Carlin. It was a great race though. This is one of the hardest circuits to defend at in the world so I’m proud I was able to hold Devlin back for so long.”
Customary fast starter Jamie Caroline made up several places on the opening lap, only to make a mistake a lap later undoing much of his hard work. He would have to settle for tenth with Patrik Matthiesen putting in his best display of the year in eighth ahead of Ross Martin.
The Club chicane claimed many victims, proving to be the location for much of the race’s drama. TRS Arden’s Rafael Martins and Zane Goddard were the first to succumb, with the former running into the back of the Double R Racer under braking on lap two.
On lap eight Nicolai Kjaergaard carried too much speed into the chicane trying to pass Matthiesen and as he re-joined the track he clipped the left rear of Jack Martin ending both of their races.
However, Club’s most high profile victim was that of Max Fewtrell who had gone into the race as the championship leader. Having lost out to Fielding on the opening lap, Fewtrell had to contend with team-mate Pull all over his gearbox, the latter pulling off a move on lap seven.
Fewtrell was not prepared to let Pull out of his sight, but on lap nine the battle ended in tears as they collided at the chicane, sending Fewtrell airborne with his Carlin prepared racer ultimately ending up perched on top of the tyre barrier. Fewtrell walked away unscathed testament to the safety of his Ford EcoBoost-powered racer and its Mygale chassis.
Remarkably Pull incurred minimal damage and was able to salvage sixth place, whilst Jack Butel crossed the line seventh to claim his best result of the year and with it the reverse grid pole for race two.
Billy Monger’s race was thwarted by debris on lap five, which brought a premature end to his battle with Alex Quinn. The latter kept his cool despite all the drama to bring home his fifth Rookie class win of the year with TRS Arden’s Luis Leeds recovering well from a difficult qualifying to make up five places.
Said Monger: “I hit some debris going through the first chicane which cut through the brake lines and meant I couldn’t stop the car properly. At 120 miles per hour it was pretty lively to say the least. We definitely had the pace to progress up the order and finish fourth so it’s a shame, but we’ll try and get some points on the board in race two this weekend and then the win is the target from fifth on the grid in race three.”
Added Quinn: “We had really good pace and if the race was a little bit longer we could have had third or second. It confirms the pace that we had in qualifying and I got a great start too. I need to thank the team because the car has been brilliant.”
Another rookie who caught the eye was Ayrton Simmons, the youngest driver on the grid, who claimed a maiden Rookie class podium on his British F4 debut: “It was so intense out there. My main goal was to stay out of trouble and bring the car home. To come away with my first Rookie podium is great and I thought my race craft was very good. We’ll learn from today and come back stronger tomorrow.”
Lights go out for round eight of the F4 British Championship certified by FIA – powered by Ford at 1255 when Jack Butel and James Pull will both be vying for their first wins of the season from the front row. At 1630 round nine gets underway live on ITV4, with Florescu looking to add yet another win to his victory tally and extend his championship lead.
Provisional results Round 7, Thruxton 7 May, 2016:
16 laps / 37.69 miles
1 Petru FLORESCU / ROU / Carlin 20m 09.010s / 112.24mph
2 Devlin DEFRANCESCO / CDN / Carlin +8.804s
3 Sennan FIELDING / GBR / JHR +10.316s
4 Alex QUINN / GBR / Fortec +10.442s
5 Luis LEEDS / AUS / Arden +11.828s
6 James PULL / GBR / Carlin +13.203s
7 Jack BUTEL / GBR / JHR +17.599s
8 Patrik MATTHIESEN / DEN / JTR +27.993s
9 Ross MARTIN / GBR / Fortec +28.381s
10 Jamie CAROLINE / GBR / Jamun +30.634s
Fastest lap: Florescu 1m 14.878s / 113.27mph
Rookie class: 1 Quinn; 2 R Martin; 3 Simmons
Luis Leeds finally broke his victory duck in scintillating fashion in round eight of the F4 British Championship certified by FIA – powered by Ford. It was TRS Arden’s first victory of the season and the first for the esteemed Red Bull Junior driver programme in the series. In a dramatic race, Jamie Caroline came home second, followed closely by Billy Monger and Carrie Schreiner – all three drivers putting in inspired performances to battle through the field.
Leeds took no prisoners from third on the grid during the opening lap, pulling off a daring move around the outside of pole man Jack Butel, having quickly dispatched James Pull.
With a handful of second place finishes to his name already this season, Leeds was determined not to be the bridesmaid again and never looked like relinquishing the lead. He was able to build an advantage out in front at both times of asking following two safety car restarts as the drama unfolded behind him.
JHR’s Billy Monger astounded spectators, climbing from 18th to fifth in the opening laps and then benefitted from DeFrancesco and Butel’s collision to move up to third and claim his first British F4 podium. He chased home Jamie Caroline who himself scythed his way from tenth on the grid to second, avoiding the chaos and expertly defended from Monger and Carrie Schreiner in the closing stages.
As the three of them duked it out, it afforded Leeds more breathing room out front on his way to the chequered flag and a win that could prove pivotal to his championship challenge.
Said an emotional Leeds: “I knew it was going to be close at the start and I knew if I was able to brake later into the first corner I could go around the outside to take the lead and that’s what happened really. I then focused on putting in good laps to try to build a gap. It was a little frustrating as the safety car kept on wiping out my gap to the cars behind, but I was still able to control the race.
“I’ve been working so hard and full credit to Arden for setting up the car and turning things around after a difficult qualifying. I hope this is the first win of many. My goal is the championship this year and a win like this helps a lot.
“Dr Marko has given me this incredible opportunity to compete in this series and be part of the Red Bull Junior driver programme. I’m doing my best every day to repay his faith and try to win races. I’ve dedicated my whole year to this. I’ve left all my friends and family in Australia to pursue what I want I’ve wanted to do all my life. It’s Mother’s day in Australia so I think this is the best present for my Mum back home.”
Commented Jamun Racing’s Caroline: “I’ve always been at good at starts and on cold tyres. I learnt that in karting, so I’ve always had the upper hand on people in this aspect. I have so much confidence in myself and the car. I’m always pushing the limits and although there’s times when it might not come off that’s just me and I’ll keep trying. I managed to fend of Billy towards the end. It was a lot of fun with the two of us battling just like we used to in karting. I’ve had two second places this season so the win is definitely the aim now.”
Added Monger: “At the second restart Jamie made a slight mistake which allowed me to really challenge him. From then onwards it was all about the battle for second and third. This is a fantastic result though from 18th. It was a chaotic race. There was so much action. I made up a few places at the start and then stayed out of trouble as others made mistakes around me. I made a few really bold overtakes on the outside through Goodwood. I had to try to attack Jamie and defend from Carrie at the same time towards the end. It was difficult, but I’m ecstatic with the end result.”
The first appearance of the safety car occurred just four laps in to enable the recovery of Nicolai Kjaergaard’s beached car on the exit of Church corner. Prior to which Quinn out-braked himself trying to defend from Jamie Caroline, sending him into the back of James Pull. Both lived to fight another day, but they came together merely a lap later. An incident which saw Quinn receive a five place grid penalty for round nine.
With the safety car back in the pits at the end of lap six the drama resumed instantly. Whilst Leeds once again wasted no time in breaking away from the field, Carlin’s Devlin DeFrancesco collided with JHR’s Jack Butel in almost a carbon copy of the incident that saw Max Fewtrell roll spectacularly out of round seven.
By lap seven Florescu had made his way up to third place, but a technical problem saw him fall through the field. It forced him to relinquish his championship lead as he nursed his Carlin home.
On the penultimate lap Zane Goddard found a way past fellow Aussie Harry Hayek to claim fifth behind Double R team-mate Carrie Schreiner, by far the best result of the season for the Double R team. It was an exceptional performance from both drivers, with Zane climbing up from the last row of the grid and Schreiner from 13th.
Said Schreiner: “I was a bit lucky with other cars crashing out. It was a fun race and whenever I saw the chance to overtake someone I took it. In the last two laps third was a possibility, but I didn’t want to risk the fourth place finish. I’m really proud of this result.”
Having been overtaken by Goddard, Hayek was immediately in the firing line. Max Fewtrell was seeking redemption after yesterday’s DNF and fellow championship contender Sennan Fielding was also in maximum attack mode on the final lap. However, the trio came to grief at the Club chicane, Fielding miraculously maintaining momentum to finish sixth and Hayek in 12th.
It was a landmark race for Ayrton Simmons. In only his second competitive British F4 outing he finished inside the points and took a fantastic Rookie class win following team-mate Jack Martin’s exclusion from the results for an incident during the safety car period.
Provisional results Round 8, Thruxton 8 May, 2016:
12 laps / 28.27 miles
1 Luis LEEDS / AUS / Arden 20m 06.547s / 84.35mph
2 Jamie CAROLINE / GBR / Jamun +2.683s
3 Billy MONGER / GBR / JHR +3.073s
4 Carrie SCHREINER / GER / Double R +3.325s
5 Zane GODDARD / AUS / Double R +4.722s
6 Sennan FIELDING / GBR / JHR +9.784s
7 James PULL / GBR / Carlin +9.261s
8 Ayrton SIMMONS / GBR / Arden +9.920s
9 Ross MARTIN / GBR / Fortec +9.940s
10 Patrik MATTHIESEN / DEN / JTR +23.130s
Fastest lap: Fielding 1m 15.304s / 112.63mph
Rookie class: 1 Simmons ; 2 R Martin; 3 Quinn
Round nine of the F4 British Championship certified by FIA – powered by Ford will live long in the memory; with a five-way battle for the lead and wheel-to-wheel action throughout the field. It was Carlin’s Devlin DeFrancesco who triumphed, taking a popular victory ahead of Billy Monger, Max Fewtrell, James Pull and Sennan Fielding. The quintet’s battle for glory provided a spectacle which firmly puts British F4 on the map as arguably the most entertaining single-seater series in the world.
The start was all about Petru Florescu who leapt away from pole with JHR’s Fielding in his wheel tracks, getting the jump on Fewtrell to move into second. Fewtrell responded a lap later in tandem with Carlin team-mate DeFrancesco, as both drivers dived down the outside of Fielding along the back straight.
With the bit between his teeth DeFrancesco then proceeded to blast past Fewtrell on the subsequent lap and apply serious pressure to Florescu with the lead now firmly in his sights. It immediately took its toll on the Romanian, who made an uncharacteristic mistake by taking too much kerb on the exit of Club to see not only DeFrancesco, but also Fielding and Fewtrell go by.
The situation deteriorated further two laps later for the race one winner. A spin sending him down to ninth immediately after DeFrancesco out-braked himself into the final chicane allowing Fielding to take the lead.
The Canadian made amends the following lap, judging his braking perfectly into the same chicane to retake control at the head of the field. The battle at the front was soon joined Monger and Pull who closed up to Fielding and Fewtrell. It set up a captivating five-way showdown for the win and a masterclass in wheel-to-wheel racing as the quintet jockeyed for position lap after lap.
The highlight of which taking place on the penultimate lap, as DeFrancesco found his mirrors full of the JHR pairing of Fielding and Monger, as well as team-mate Fewtrell. The three drivers were three abreast across the pit straight and it was Monger who seized the initiative. He dared to brake latest into turn one to take second, with Fewtrell squeezing past Fielding, who moments later succumbed to Pull’s attack.
A jubilant DeFrancesco stated: “It feels unbelievable to get this win. What a race! What a fight at the front! There was so much respect amongst all the drivers, with good overtaking and clean moves. I cannot wait for what the rest of the season has in store. There were so many touch-and-go moments out on track and the key was just trying to keep focused.”
Said second place man Monger: “It’s not the top step, but we’re getting closer. I’m not here to make up the numbers. I wanted to prove to people that I deserve to be here and I think I have done that this weekend. We’ve had two podiums this weekend and I want to take this momentum into Oulton Park and get my first win. There was so much respect out there between all the drivers. It enabled such close racing. I think it’s the best racing in Europe and that’s why this is such a highly rated championship.”
Whilst Fewtrell was in a philosophical mood after his Thruxton trials and tribulations: “To grab a podium after a really tough weekend and the big incidents in races one and two is a good confidence booster. I hung in there and kept going. I think that last race wasn’t really about pace because of the slipstream effect around here. It’s all about using that slipstream to your advantage and timing moves to perfection which is what I tried to do.”
Messrs Luis Leeds, Alex Quinn and Zane Goddard added further drama with a fantastic tussle for sixth. Quinn and Goddard went either side of Leeds as they hit the pit straight at the end of lap five leaving the crowd speechless; swallowing up his TRS Arden prepared racer following his slow exit from Club. Quinn’s seventh place was enough to see him record an impressive sixth Rookie class win of the year.
Commented Quinn: “It could have been a lot better this weekend. We were a bit unfortunate, but I’m already looking forward to Oulton Park. It was really tough battling with Luis and Zane. We all drove really well and it was such a tough race. It just demonstrates how competitive British F4 is.”
Added Goddard: “I didn’t get the start I would have liked, but I came through and somehow got past Luis on the outside. At the last corner I locked up and the rear stepped out on me. I was just able to hold it together. It was such a close finish and it’s nice to get the Aussie bragging rights over Luis on this occasion.”
Patrik Matthiesen once again held on valiantly to finish in the last points paying position for JTR, just as he had in race two.
Meanwhile, a collision between Jack Butel and Rafael Martins in the closing stages left the former at the back of the field and brought an end to Martins’ race. A frustrating finish to a weekend that promised so much for both drivers, after strong showings in testing and Butel’s pole position start in the race two.
There was also disappointment for Jamie Caroline whose race was fated before the lights went out due to contact on the lap to the grid. He elected to start from the pit lane, giving his Jamun team the chance to repair a damaged front wing, but their efforts were in vain as Caroline was forced to retire with the wing hanging precariously from the nose of his car.
Despite both missing out on the podium in round nine, it is Fielding who leaves Thruxton at the top of the F4 British Championship certified by FIA – powered by Ford standings. Leeds, Fewtrell, Florescu and Pull lie within touching distance of the leader however and as this weekend has proved there are sure to be plenty more surprises at Oulton Park in four weeks’ time.
Provisional results Round 9, Thruxton 8 May, 2016:
16 laps / 37.69 miles
1 Devlin DEFRANCESCO / CDN / Carlin 20m 16.559s / 111.54mph
2 Billy MONGER / GBR / JHR +1.476s
3 Max FEWTRELL / GBR / Carlin +1.659s
4 James PULL / GBR / Carlin +1.929s
5 Sennan FIELDING / GBR / JHR +2.187s
6 Zane GODDARD / AUS / Double R +4.366s
7 Alex QUINN / GBR / Fortec +5.818s
8 Luis LEEDS / AUS / Arden +6.420s
9 Petru FLORESCU / ROU / Carlin +6.910s
10 Patrik MATTHIESEN / DEN / JTR +7.095s
Fastest lap: DeFrancesco 1m 14.713s / 113.52mph
Rookie class: 1 Quinn; 2 R Martin; 3 J Martin; 4 Kjaergaard; 5 Simmons