Colin Turkington fired himself further into championship contention after taking two stunning wins in the Dunlop MSA British Touring Car Championship at Knockhill, before a technical infringement in race three saw the Ulsterman disqualified from a vital fourth place.
The 31-year-old won the opener after making his way by the Audi of pole-sitter Rob Austin in the early running. The eBay Motors racer subsequently streaked away from the chasing pack to claim his first ever BTCC victory at the Scottish circuit and he duly doubled up in race two.
Turkington’s second win was far more routine as he cruised to an impressive lights-to-flag victory ahead of Austin and local hero Gordon Shedden, who both reversed their positions from the first race.
Scotsman Shedden seemed set to build on his big points haul in race three but he faced unfortunate late heartache. While running in fifth place the reigning champion’s Honda Civic caught fire due to an engine failure, much to the dismay of the tens of thousands of home fans. He wasn’t the only championship contender to endure disappointment, however, as Turkington was excluded from fourth place when his car was found to have exceeded the maximum boost allowance.
The main benefactors from Shedden and Turkington’s respective woes in the final contest were the championship’s top two, as Pirtek Racing’s Andrew Jordan produced a flawless drive to claim a commanding victory ahead of Honda Yuasa Racing's Matt Neal and eBay Motors’ Rob Collard – the latter scoring his first podium of the 2013 season.
Austin rounded off his best weekend ever in the BTCC with a fourth place finish, whilst Daniel Welch also produced his highest result of the season with sixth. Sandwiched between them was MG KX Momentum’s Jason Plato who had earlier claimed a fourth and a seventh from the opening races to keep his championship hopes alive.
Neal maintained the standings lead at the conclusion of the event although Jordan edged closer to the championship summit after his race three victory – the 24-year-old is now just six points behind the three-time champion. Shedden and Turkington are separated by three points in third and fourth respectively.
The Jack Sears Trophy provided its usual pulsating action with the lead duo of Liam Griffin and Lea Wood mixing it against a number of NGTC cars throughout the day. Griffin looked set to score an incredible hat-trick after two stellar wins in his Ford Focus ST, but he was nudged out of the race three lead by BTCC debutant Kieran Gallagher in his Team HARD-run Vauxhall Insignia. The victory went to Wood in his Vauxhall Vectra, who now leads Griffin by ten wins to six.
Colin Turkington said: “The car was really on rails today and it was a strong weekend. It was good to win at Croft and we thought that was something like peak performance but it felt even better today. There’s no feeling like being out at the front! When your car works well at a track you have to capitalise, which we did in the first two races. I’d never won here, despite leading before, so it’s great to win at a new track. It’s hard to know how the circuits to come will suit us as it’s the first time we’ll be taking the new BMW to them all, but we’ll keep pushing.”
Andrew Jordan said: “Race three was where we thought we could get the win and thankfully we did. We went with the soft tyre and got a really good start, which was ideal and it was a great race after that. The championship is going to be up and down for everyone and there are still nine races to go. Anything can happen in touring car racing, and it usually does, so we’ll just keep to our plan by trying be consistent and hopefully I’ll end up as champion.”
Matt Neal said: “I think that every point you get is vital whether it’s a fifth place, a seventh or the podium that we picked up in race three. You’ve just got to grab what you can because the competition is pretty tough and it’s not easy out there. I’d had a pretty tough weekend so it was a relief to see the podium again - this championship could come down to the odd point. I said before this weekend that Turkington could be the one to watch and we’d all be foolish to discount Plato too, but it’s great to have three Civics in the top three of the championship.”
Gordon Shedden said: “That’s the first engine I’ve ever had blow in touring cars so I can’t complain too much. It doesn’t help with the points of course as it’s all well and good having two good results but you need to convert results in all three races. There’s no room for error but I’ve kept chipping away since Thruxton, so it’s tough to take when you get within ten points of the championship and then fall away again with this. There’s still a lot of races to go though so we’ll give it absolutely everything until the end of the season.”