Robert Huff won his first BTCC race after an incident-filled event at Brands Hatch. The SEAT Sport UK driver started from third on the grid and was fourth going into the final lap, but he steered clear of a series of collisions approaching the ...
Robert Huff won his first BTCC race after an incident-filled event at Brands Hatch. The SEAT Sport UK driver started from third on the grid and was fourth going into the final lap, but he steered clear of a series of collisions approaching the chequered flag and crossed the line to lead home the third SEAT one-two of the season.
Jason Plato's win in round two handed him pole position for round three. Alongside him on the grid was runner-up Colin Turkington with Huff in third position and James Thompson fourth. Turkington and Thompson both made perfect starts to move up to first and second respectively, whereas Plato got bogged down and was lucky to fall back only to third with Matt Neal threatening around the outside and Huff right behind.
Turkington defended hard going into Druids but Thompson remained close behind and pulled out of the MG ZS's slipstream going into Surtees corner. The pair remained side-by-side through McLaren, Clarke Curve and along the Brabham Straight before Thompson, on the outside, conceded defeat and slotted in behind Turkington under braking for Paddock Hill Bend.
Plato then joined in the action and dived down in the inside of Thompson at the entrance to Clarke Curve. Thompson's car was the quicker but he was not able to completely get ahead along the pit straight and so Plato held on to take second place. Michael Bentwood made a great start from seventh place to work his way up to fourth by the end of the first lap.
James Kaye and Tom Chilton tangled at Graham Hill Bend after Chilton tried an optimistic overtaking move sending Kay spinning across the track before ending up pointing in the right direction. Chilton had to take to the grass in avoidance and lost a place to Anthony Reid's MG ZS that had started from the back row after retiring from the first race with suspension damage.
The battle between Plato and Thompson allowed Bentwood, Muller, Neal and Huff to all close up and the six cars lapped in one big group. Muller went around the outside of Bentwood to move up to fourth, once place behind championship rival Thompson. Bentwood then lost another place to Matt Neal who went past on the inside through Clarke Curve.
Jason Hughes had a big accident in his Kartworld Racing MG ZS on lap three. He ran wide at the exit of Druids hairpin and onto the gravel which caused the car to twitch to the right and across the track. The car continued across the grass at speed before clouting the tyre barrier on the inside of the circuit sending the car flying back onto the track, stopping on the racing line with coolant pouring from the front of the car. Inevitably the Safety Car was deployed so the accident could be cleared.
Turkington put the power down at the restart as the cars passed over the grid and he had an advantage of several car lengths over Plato as he entered the first corner. Muller made the best restart and closed right up on Thompson forcing him to move over and block as the pair approached Druids hairpin. Turkington made a slight mistake under braking for McLaren and this allowed Plato up the inside and past along the pit straight.
Michael Bentwood had a massive scare on lap ten on the run up the hill to Druids hairpin. He moved over to the right to block a pass by Huff but the pair touched, sending Bentwood to the right and onto the grass as the cars entered the braking zone. Fortunately the Vauxhall kept pointing the right way and Bentwood was just able to catch the car as it rejoined the track and turn in for the corner, with Huff keeping out of the way and then diving past on the inside.
Muller then tried to go inside Thompson at Paddock Hill Bend. He couldn't get past and the pair exchanged paintwork as they touched in the corner. Thompson then swerved for the inside to block Muller who tried to go around the outside of Druids. Matt Neal then closed up on this battle in fifth with Huff lurking close by in sixth. Muller tried again at the end of the lap and passed Thompson along the pit straight to move up to third, with Neal diving past too to demote Thompson down to fifth and into an immense battle with Huff for several laps.
Muller closed up on Turkington as the cars travelled along the pit straight but Turkington kept to the inside forcing Muller to go around the outside. Turkington then ran wide under braking and twice nudged Muller who braked hard to try to avoid him. Turkington went around Paddock Hill Bend sideways with smoke pouring from his left-rear tyre as Muller kept to the outside to avoid him, and Matt Neal dived down the inside of both of them to move up to second. Muller passed Turkington cleanly at the same point on the next lap, as did Huff and Thompson on the following lap at Druids.
Thompson threw away fifth position on the next lap by running wide at Paddock Hill Bend and into the gravel. He kept the car going but the loss of momentum allowed Bentwood, Reid, Turkington, Hines and Chilton to all dive on the inside through Druids. Behind them James Kaye went straight on at the exit of Druids and drove head-first into the tyres by the side of the track. This incident brought out the Safety Car.
The Safety Car returned to the pits at the end of the penultimate lap giving the cars just one lap to fight for position before the end of the race. Straight away Neal tagged the back of the leader Plato sending both cars momentarily sideways. Muller went around the outside of Neal through Paddock Hill Bend and then dived inside Plato who had moved over to block Huff too. Muller then took the lead at Druids but he and Plato, behind him, ran wide in the hairpin and Huff dived down the inside of them both. Plato then tagged the back of Muller's car putting him sideways and allowing Huff, Plato and Bentwood past. Muller was then nudged again, this time by Reid in Graham Hill Bend, and this allowed Neal past.
Huff quickly pulled away at the front to take his first win in the series with his team-mate Plato finishing second and Michael Bentwood crossing the line in third. Neal eventually finished fourth with Muller one place behind him in fifth. Thompson dropped right down the field after going off the circuit at Surtees and eventually finished twelfth.