Racing Silverline Mat Jackson continued his recent superb form, taking another podium and two races taking his tally to 3 wins and 3 podiums out of the last 6 races. Teammate Jason Plato took the other victory while, in the championship battle, ...
Racing Silverline Mat Jackson continued his recent superb form, taking another podium and two races taking his tally to 3 wins and 3 podiums out of the last 6 races. Teammate Jason Plato took the other victory while, in the championship battle, there was little to choose between Colin Turkington and Fabrizio Giovanardi with the pair finishing all three races in the top five. It was the Northern Irishman, however, who out scored the Italian by two points increasing his lead to 11 points heading into the final two rounds of the championship.
Jackson was on pole but it was Rob Collard who made the best start taking advantage of his rear wheel drive in his Airways BMW. Jackson would not be second for long, quickly passing Collard into Brooklands on lap 4. As this was happening BTCC returnee Anthony Reid made contact with Tom Onslow-Cole sending the Ford Focus heavily into the barrier. Reid who has quite a controversial past was deemed by the stewards to have caused the collision and was penalized by a fine and endorsement on his license.
Jackson increased his lead and it was not long before team mate Plato got into second getting past Collard into the first corner on lap 15. This also allowed James Nash in the third RML Chevrolet to cleverly take advantage and also pass Collard in the same maneuver. Just a lap later Turkington would also put the same move on Collard as well.
The safety car came out once again on lap 17 after Martin Johnson's engine blow on his Astra Coupe. After the safety car went in Giovanardi first managed to get past Jonny Adam and then Collard to take fifth behind championship rival Turkington. Dave Pinkney fell off at the first corner after his spin on the opening lap but it was the RML Chevrolet team who took a memorable 1-2-3. Early race leader Collard finished 6th ahead of Stephen Jelley, Adam, Paul O'Neill and Matt Neal, while ex Formula 1 star Jonny Herbert finished his first BTCC race in 13th after a broken steering rack in qualifying had put him down in 17th.
Race 2 saw the Chevrolets lead away with Turkington into third being chased by Collard, Giovanardi and Nash.
As Collard put the pressure on Turkington though he got sideways going through Luffield, which let Giovanardi, put his nose down the inside. He pitched Collard into a big slide, although Giovanardi backed off midcorner to prevent Collard from completely spinning allowing Nash past the pair dropping Collard down the field. This only made Collard angry and he duly took it out on Neal only a lap later going into Brooklands. Although Neal got going this was the first of three spins the former double champion enjoyed after it started raining on lap 12. He spun again through the gravel at Brooklands on lap 12 and then again spun on lap 15 before calling it a day.
By now Plato had overtaken Jackson for the lead. As one Vauxhall was spinning around the other of Giovanardi, a master in these drizzly conditions, would take full advantage and first pass Turkington before taking second on lap 18 coming out of Brooklands after Jackson got sideways.
The drivers were struggling in the conditions with lap times 10 seconds off a normal dry lap time; in particular the BMW's with their rear wheel drive were struggling and Jelley spun a full 360degrees coming out of the first corner, dropping him out of the top 10.
One driver reveling in these conditions was Tom Chilton who took a season best finish in the ever-improving Ford Focus. In taking fifth he made contact with Nash and spinning the impressive Nash into the gravel on the entry of Becketts. But it would be Plato who held onto the lead on his 299th race from Giovanardi and Jackson rounding off the podium. Turkington who was no match for the front wheel drive cars would take fourth and see his championship lead down to just seven points. Behind Chilton in 6th would be Andrew Jordan who made good progress up the field in what was ultimately a very disappointing weekend for the Vauxhall youngster, ahead of Adam and Herbert who did very well to score points in his debut weekend, with Collard and O'Neill rounding off the top 10.
Adam Jones who was forced to miss the weekend after his Cartridge World Seat team had to withdraw from the series prior to Silverstone, made the reverse grid draw and pulled out ball number 9, which meant Collard would start on pole ahead of Herbert.
Collard got away brilliantly once again in his BMW. However, Herbert dropped down to fifth. The field got away unscathed until coming out of Brooklands, Jordan got sideways and ploughed into the unlucky Chilton fresh from his superb fifth in race 2. Collard's teammate Adam briefly held onto second before being passed on lap 2 by Turkington, which also allowed Jackson through into Brooklands.
Despite his poor start Herbert was still doing well until lap 3 when Giovanardi passed the ex Formula 1 ace into Luffield and as Herbert turned in, he was hit by Plato and then was forced to retire just a few laps later. It was the uniform Jackson who made his way to the front by first passing Turkington on lap 4 and then taking the lead going into Brooklands on lap 12. Although Collard pressured last year's series runner up, Jackson would not be denied his second win of the day. Behind there was a big championship battle going on as the two contenders found themselves battling on the circuit.
Despite Giovanardi's best efforts he failed to get past Turkington. This then allowed his teammate Jelley to catch up and then pass Giovanardi with a brilliant maneuver going into Brooklands, taking valuable points away from the reigning double champion. He remained a rear gunner for Turkington till the end of the race with the pair taking 3rd and 4th. Giovanardi would remain in 5th despite coming under initial pressure from Adam. In 7th and 8th were the battling Chevrolets of Plato and Nash. Plato seemed unimpressed with Nash as several times he hit the back of his team mate's Chevrolet. Rounding off the top 10 would be O'Neill, taking his third top 10 finish of the day, just ahead of Dave Pinkney. I would also be another very disappointing race for Neal, who could only drag his battered Vectra round into 13th place.
It was to be Jackson's weekend and after the three races a delighted Jackson said, "These are fantastic results made even sweeter because it's the second successive race weekend I've had three podiums on the trot. The Chevrolet has been exceptional here and it was down to me to make the most of it. I'm so happy, although Collard really made me work for it in the last few laps of race three."
Turkington, who now leads the championship by 11points was very happy with his third place in race 3 and that team mate Jelley took crucial points away from Giovanardi, said, "That third place in race three was a really important result. I briefly had Fabrizio attacking me before Stephen came and got involved. He did me a real favour getting between us as it helped me stick a few more points on Fabrizio." He is fully aware he still has a major fight heading into the final two rounds and added, "I still prefer to be the man in front, but I suspect these final two rounds we're going into, at Rockingham and Brands Hatch, are going to become very intense."
Giovanardi who, despite not having the best of cars this weekend, still drove brilliantly and managed three top five points scoring finishes, admits he's enjoying the battle with Turkington and expects a close and tense finish to the season by saying, "I'm really enjoying this fight with Colin. I thought after race two today I was closing up on him some more but then in race three he finds something else with his teammate! But I had the same help from my teammates in the previous round so it's all OK. It's how it works at this stage of the season. Rockingham and Brands Hatch... I think our cars will be quite even so it's going to be a very close."
Silverstone also saw the first championship decided of the season and unsurprisingly Vauxhall were provisionally crowned manufactures/constructors champions. They enjoy a strong lead in the Teams Championship.
Next up for the championship is Rockingham on the 19th and 20th so be sure not to miss a thing, as the season reaches its final two meetings of the year with nothing to chose between the top 2 drivers. Come back to see who will take the advantage heading into the final meeting of the year.