Andrew Jordan has taken control of the Dunlop MSA British Touring Car Championship after securing a double victory at Rockingham during rounds 24, 25 and 26 of the championship. The Pirtek Racing driver left the Corby circuit with a commanding 30 point lead over reigning BTCC champion Gordon Shedden, after the Scot took a double podium in his Honda Yuasa Racing Civic, while there was also a hugely popular maiden win for Rob Austin in his own prepared Wix Racing Audi A4.
So far this season Jordan has been without doubt the most consistent and probably quickest driver all year with him having scored in every round so far in the championship in his Honda Civic. The first race took part in tricky conditions in the dry following a rain shower. Everyone decided to start on wets and Jordan despite starting 4th was in the lead by the end of the first lap thanks to a great start which he never came close to losing.
With full weight on for race 2 Jordan could only finish in 8th, however he got the luck for race 3 with the reverse grid and took a lights to flag victory to claim his 6th victory of 2013. At the end of a fantastic day Jordan said, "That went even better than I’d planned to be honest! We thought we’d be quick in the wet but didn’t really know how well we’d go in the dry so such success was a bit unexpected – the car was a dream to drive all day. With six races to go a lot can happen – Matt has had a bad day today, but that could easily be me at Silverstone so we’ve got to keep our heads down, not focus too much on the championship and keep doing what we do best which is be competitive right to the end.”
Heading into the weekend it was Matt Neal in the second Honda Yuasa Racing Civic who held a 6 point advantage over Jordan, however the former triple champion had a disastrous weekend with a best finish of 7th in race 3 to end the points 34 points off of Jordan. An early spin in tricky conditions in race 1 meant a lonely 14th in race 1 while after making it into the top 6 in race 2; he went off the circuit at the hairpin and into retirement to end the day 4th in the points standing.
One place and one point ahead of Neal is Colin Turkington in his West Surrey Racing prepared BMW 125i M Sport. After 6th in race 1 the 2009 BTCC champion then achieved podiums in the following 2 races with 3rd in race 2 and 3rd in race 3.
Last time out Austin found a dramatic return of form securing his maiden pole position and going on to be the leading points scorer at Knockhill with a 3rd, 4th and a then career best 2nd in race 2.
The day started well for Austin with 3rd in race 1, out dragging Shedden to the line, before his moment of glory came in race 2 taking the car, affectionately named Sherman, to victory after storming off the line to lead every lap.
After the race Austin, who was involved with the new F1 movie Rush took the roof of Sherman in celebration and delightedly said, “What a feeling! It has been three years of blood, sweat and tears – for the team, for my family, for everyone. We’re up against teams with four times our budget and to beat guys like that is just incredible. I backed off a bit towards the end but Sherman was brilliantly prepared and the guys did a great job – I’m so proud of the whole team. The BTCC crowd are amazing too and I love them all! They’ve got me out of trouble already this season when we had our big shunt on the first weekend. We wouldn’t be here without them so I can’t thank the fans enough.”
The day was meant to be an MG walk over after they secured their 3rd MG KX Momentum racing 1-2 of the season in qualifying but, like last year, they seemed to struggle in the damp opening two races of the day.
Former double champion Jason Plato lost his race 1 lead on the opening lap of the race before slipping back to 5th , while youngster Sam Tordoff, who started alongside Plato on the front row of the grid, went back even further and didn’t even manage to get in the points finishing 16th.
Race 2 went a lot better for Tordoff finishing 5th ahead of Plato and while he looked on course for a podium in race 3 having held 2nd for much of the race, would fall back as the race went on to end up 6th. This left Plato to take the sole MG podium of the weekend with 3rd in race 3 after a great last lap battle with second place, which saw Plato dive up the inside of Turkington into the Hairpin only for the BMW to slip instantly back up the inside. Plato now trails Jordan by a massive 62 points and no realistic chance of a third championship.
With such tricky conditions for the start of race 1, it was inevitable that there would be an opening collision and that certainly was the case as Will Bratt got spun around in the second Rob Austin Racing Audi A4. The Cicely Racing Toyota Avensis of Adam Morgan was also collected triggering a separate incident between the Airwaves Racing Ford Focus of Tom Onslow-Cole and Dan Welch in his Welch Motorsport Proton.
Welch was left stranded in the middle of the circuit where he was hit by the Team Club 44 Chevrolet Cruze of Andy Neate. As a result of the heavy collision both cars would not been seen for the rest of the day bringing an end to only Neate’s second race weekend of 2013, while Welch suffered a broken Coccyx in the incident, which must raise some question marks over his participation in the final two meetings of 2013.
Bratt was forced to miss race 2 although was out in race 3 while Morgan and Onslow-Cole were able to make race 2. After the first race incident Onslow-Cole, who was making his debut for the Motorbase team, then went on to take 9th in race 2 and 12th in race 3 finishing on both occasions ahead of regular driver Aron Smith.
Mat Jackson in the third Airwaves Racing Ford Focus was able to give the team something to cheer about with a fine 2nd in race 1 before going on to take a pair of 4th’s in races 2 and 3.
Following Rockingham, the first champion of the season was crowned after Lea Wood took a hat trick of wins in his Wheel Heaven/ Houseman Racing Vauxhall Vectra to claim the S2000 Jack Sears Trophy.
The only man capable of beating Wood was Liam Griffin in the Addison Lee Motorbase Ford Focus, but he suffered a terrible day retiring on the formation lap of race 1 and again in race 2 before not starting race 3.
Wood was to take full advantage against only one other competitor David Nye in the Welch Motorsport Ford Focus to claim all 3 wins. Wood’s hardest victory came in race 1 after he took the gamble on the formation lap to switch to slicks and only passed Nye on the last lap of the race to take victory.
After becoming the inaugural winner of the Jack Sears, trophy a competition that is set to become a feature of the series named after the first ever winner of the series, Wood said, “In my mind the championship isn’t over until the end of the year, but to get the results we did today and move out of reach of the others is fantastic. The car performed faultlessly all weekend. We gambled in race one on the slick tyres – it was touch and go for quite a while but we reeled in David Nye and to pass him on the final lap was a great feeling and probably one of the best moments of the year. The plan for the rest of the season is to keep winning as many as we can!”