GIOVANARDI, TURKINGTON & JACKSON WIN AT THRUXTON TO MAKE IT SIX DIFFERENT WINNERS FROM SIX RACES Fabrizio Giovanardi, Colin Turkington and Mat Jackson shared the wins in today's second round of the HiQ MSA British Touring Car...
GIOVANARDI, TURKINGTON & JACKSON WIN AT THRUXTON TO MAKE IT SIX DIFFERENT WINNERS FROM SIX RACES
Fabrizio Giovanardi, Colin Turkington and Mat Jackson shared the wins in today's second round of the HiQ MSA British Touring Car Championship, held at the high-speed Thruxton circuit in Hampshire - making it six different winners from the first six races of 2009. However, it is Matt Neal who continues to lead the Drivers' points table - just, from Turkington - as the UK's premier motor racing series next heads to the Donington Park circuit on the Leicestershire-Derbyshire border on Sunday 17 May.
Reigning Champion Giovanardi struck first today at Thruxton, leading all the way from pole position in race one for his first win of the season. The Italian led home Vauxhall team-mates Neal and Andrew Jordan in their Vectras to give the VX Racing team a dream 1-2-3 result - its first in five years.
Northern Irish star Turkington won race two with what he later described as one of the best drives of his career after taking on - and passing - first Neal and, on the last lap, Giovanardi for a classy victory and on a circuit not expected to suit his Team RAC BMW.
Then it was Jackson's turn to taste the victory champagne. The Warwickshire driver, 2008's series runner-up but who missed this year's opening round, had returned in an RML Chevrolet Lacetti and took full advantage of a strong starting position on the reversed grid to lead from start to finish.
Neal, though, with second to Giovanardi in race one and then third and seventh place finishes in races two and three, has maintained his championship lead. He leaves Hampshire six points clear of Turkington at the top of the standings. Worcesterhire-based Neal, who won the BTCC title in 2005 and 2006, said: "It's been another very strong day, but I'm a little disappointed to have lost points in race three - I started the last lap in fourth and was going for third, but found myself muscled down the order. The main thing is my lead is still intact and it's my home circuit next, Donington, where I've had some of my greatest races. I'm really enjoying the way my season is going."
Turkington added: "I'm hugely encouraged by what we've done today. This is the circuit we were looking forward to least and yet we've still been very competitive and kept up the pressure on the Vauxhalls. You know you're up against real class when you're dicing with the likes of Matt and Fabrizio and to go and beat them both in race two... that has to go down as one of my best. Now it will be important to capitalise as we move towards circuits that should be better suited to the BMW."
Notably, today's three races again underlined the BTCC's great strength in depth. Once more they received tremendous live television coverage - six and a half hours in total - on ITV4, while the entry list was arguably at its most competitive in over a decade with 11 different race winners, among them four past and present champions (Neal, Giovanardi, Jason Plato and the returning James Thompson), on the grid.
Other names also made their mark, chiefly Adam Jones who gave the new Cartridge World Carbon Zero Racing team a maiden podium result with second in race three in its SEAT Leon. Paul O'Neill was another to star in the small Sunshine.co.uk with Tech-Speed Motorsport team's Honda Integra - fifth in race one, he was as high as second in race three, ahead of Jones, until being cruelly denied by a punctured tyre.
Elsewhere, Vauxhall/VX Racing has stretched its lead in the Manufacturers/Constructors' championship, as has VXR in the outright Teams' table. Turkington has done likewise in the Independent Drivers' standings, while Team RAC has taken over the lead of the Independent Teams' Trophy.