Colin Turkington won his second race of the 2005 British Touring Car Championship with a strong display in race two at Mondello Park. The VX Racing driver recovered from an incident at the first corner, benefited from a series of penalties award...
Colin Turkington won his second race of the 2005 British Touring Car Championship with a strong display in race two at Mondello Park. The VX Racing driver recovered from an incident at the first corner, benefited from a series of penalties award to other drivers and kept his car under control in difficult conditions to take Vauxhall’s second win of the day around the 2.177-mile circuit.
The grid for the second race is determined by the finishing order of the first race so race one winner Yvan Muller, of VX Racing, lined up in pole position ahead of SEAT Sport UK driver Plato, Matt Neal of Team Dynamics, Turkington and West Surrey Racing driver Rob Collard. The circuit was considerably damp after a rain shower shortly before the race and the drivers all fought against wheelspin as the lights went out.
Muller kept his place at the front and remained firmly on the inside to protect his lead at the first corner. Plato moved across to tail Muller in to the braking zone but as the field bunched up Turkington went to the outside and Neal went to the inside, with Neal passing Plato to move up to second. Plato’s misfortune continued as Collard slipped by at the second corner and then Arena Motorsports driver Tom Chilton, who had started from ninth, passed Plato and Collard to move up to third halfway round the first lap.
Turkington lost out at the first corner as his line around the outside was the longest and then was clipped by Team Dynamics driver Dan Eaves at the exit of the corner as he backed off to avoid Plato who had run slightly wide. Turkington, while sliding, clouted the side of Collard which straightened the Vauxhall again but the loss in momentum, and strong starts by other drivers, put Turkington down to fifth. Neal ran wide through Parabolica and dropped two places allowing Chilton up to second and Collard up to third. Chilton then immediately dived inside Muller to take the lead at the end of the opening lap.
Plato, Muller and Synchro Motorsport driver James Kaye were all awarded 30-second stop-go penalties for changing tyres too late on the grid. Muller took his penalty straight away before crossing the line, with Kay and Plato taking theirs one lap later. This handed second place to Collard who was attacked and soon passed by Turkington, and behind them Eaves dived inside team-mate Neal to move up to fourth.
Eaves and Collard then battled all round lap three and exchanged places several times as both drivers slid wide, with Eaves eventually taking third. Ahead of them Chilton's tyre choice allowed him to initially pull out a huge lead but Turkington quickly reeled him in as the circuit started to dry and dived past with no resistance from the leader. Chilton saw that he was on the wrong tyres and pitted for a pair of slicks on the front of the car.
Turkington now held a four-second lead over Eaves, who was five seconds ahead of Collard in third, with the battle for fourth between Neal, VX Racing's Gavin Smith and SEAT Sport UK driver Luke Hines some three two seconds further back.
The drivers who had been penalised were desperate to salvage something from the race. James Kaye spun off the circuit and retired at the Septica chicane after putting all four wheels on the grass and losing control at the exit, and a few moments later Muller spun on to the grass at Parabolica but was able to rejoin. Plato, meanwhile, was setting among the fastest laps of the race on his charge up through the field.
On lap seven Neal was twitching in almost every corner and this allowed Smith to close right up. Neal then ran wide on the entrance to Parabolica and Smith eased past on the inside to move up to fourth, with Hines now right behind the Honda Civic Type-R. Neal gradually picked up pace, however, and within three laps was challenging the Vauxhall Astra Sport Hatch again. He passed Smith on lap 10 and on the next lap dived inside Collard at the final corner to move up to third.
Smith threw away fifth place on the penultimate lap when he made a mistake lapping Mark Proctor’s Vauxhall Astra Coupe, hit the brakes too late and came to a halt in the gravel at Parabolica. This promoted Plato up to ninth and James Pickford to the all-important tenth position that becomes pole position for race three, although on the final lap the SEAT Sport UK drivers swapped positions to give Plato the pole.
Turkington held on, despite a few small twitches, to win by five seconds. Dan Eaves led a Team Dynamics 2-3 with Matt Neal six seconds behind in third place. Turkington, running fifth in the championship, closed the gap to Plato to 13 points.