Pat Cranham, BTCC correspondent
Tom Boardman has won on the road at Knockhill for Special Tuning Racing to take round 21 of the Dunlop MSA British Touring Car Championship, although he was involved in a couple of incidents that might well get looked at following the race. One involved Jason Plato, sending him into the barrier and all but ending his slim championship hopes. Meanwhile Mat Jackson’s day from hell ended when he battled his way up to 7th, only to hit the Team Aon Focus of Chilton and damaging the front end of his Airwaves Racing Focus, ending his race on the spot.
Plato led away but was coming under constant pressure from Boardman, particularly as the normally aspirated Chevrolet struggled up the hill coming out of the last corner. Plato would exit the Hairpin in the lead but by mid-straight Boardman in his Turbo powered Seat would be alongside last year’s champion before Plato would out-break the Seat into the first corner. This was until lap 4 when Boardman clipped the back of the Chevrolet mid corner exiting the turn 1 down the hill towards the left kink. This sent Plato exiting right hard towards the barriers, ending his race and the fight to reclaim his drivers crown.
Plato couldn’t contain his rage as he slammed his door shut but tried to remain philosophical when speaking to Louise Goodman from ITV at the end of the race and said, “Not sure what I should or shouldn’t say. The closing speed Tom has on me to hit me that hard even before the corner you can see the speed the turbo’s have on us. It’s not on. I remember last season when I was complaining about the gas powered Team Aon’s everyone was on my side of the fence but now I’m on my own. The championship for me is over. Even before this weekend it was over, it’s long gone. TOCA have a difficult job but we have not got anything like the balance. TOCA still have a long way to go to make it fair between the turbo’s and normally aspirated cars.”
Plato’s crash brought out the safety car and that’s when Boardman’s second controversial moment happened. With the safety car coming in it appeared that Boardman accelerated and then braked causing mayhem behind. With cars going everywhere trying to avoid the Boardman many cars hit the car ahead of them, while some like Dave Newsham even had to take to the gravel. The biggest collision happened when the unsighted BTCC debutant Aron Smith smashed into the back of his team mate James Nash as cars scattered everywhere. Smith heavily damaged his Vectra and had to retire on the spot while Nash had to pit at the end of the lap with rear end damage. Understandably many drivers were unhappy with this move including Matt Neal who hit the back of Frank Wrathall. Neal expressed his dissatisfaction to ITV commentator Ben Edwards over the in car commentator radio while Nash put on his personal Facebook page “Boardman’s restart was a good one wasn't it???”
I was trying so hard to get in front of Plato but he just kept backing me up so there was nothing I could do.
Never the less Boardman was to take a hugely emotional win on the road after just holding off the hard charging Rob Collard and said after the race about the incident, “A lot of hard work has gone into this. We have had the pace this year but have had a lot of bad luck this year like being hit by a spinning car at Oulton and various engine trouble. I was trying so hard to get in front of Plato but he just kept backing me up so there was nothing I could do. At the restart I control the speed and I didn’t want Collard up my bumper. Whatever they were doing behind it’s not my fault they couldn’t see the car in front.”
Behind Collard was Wrathall taking his second outright podium of the day with the battling Honda duo behind. Neal gained two points on Shedden and now trails him by just 1 point. Tom Chilton was 6th, although he had been running third until a trip off road dropped him back.
Mat Jackson had been behind Chilton after a great drive from the back of the field which included taking 3 cars in one go around the outside of the Hairpin. But his race ended suddenly for the third time today when the trio ahead of him were slow going around the Hairpin and he ran into the back of Chilton grinding to a halt coming out of the corner.
Andrew Jordan was 7th despite suffering a grassy moment on lap 1 after hitting a kerb and getting completely sideways with Tom Onslow-Cole in 8th giving his mechanics some reward for turning around his damaged car between races 1 and 2. Nick Foster scored 2 more points as he continues to establish himself as the best BTCC rookie. Alex MacDowall finished 10th picking up his only point of the weekend after two earlier trips through the gravel.
So for now Boardman has won his first BTCC race. However if anything changes please keep checking Motorsport.com for any news as it breaks.