Adam Morgan, Ashley Sutton and Chris Smiley shared the race winning spoils at Rockingham, whilst the battle for top spot in the Dunlop MSA British Touring Car Championship standings raged between Colin Turkington and Tom Ingram throughout the day.
Ciceley Motorsport with Mac Tools driver Morgan converted his first ever BTCC pole position into a commanding lights-to-flag victory in the opener, with Adrian Flux Subaru Racing star Sutton and Team Shredded Wheat Racing with Gallagher’s Tom Chilton completing the podium positions.
Whilst Morgan was taking his third win of the season in relative comfort there was seemingly no end of drama in the battle for the remaining podium places, which kicked off as soon as the lights went out.
A sluggish start from Halfords Yuasa Racing’s Dan Cammish from third on the grid almost saw Chilton’s Ford by on the run down to the hairpin for the first time, but as the former went in deep to defend he unfortunately tagged second placed Sam Tordoff and tipped him into a spin.
With the GardX-backed Ford now stranded in the middle of the track and facing the wrong way, a number of unsighted drivers were then caught up in the resulting melee.
Sutton produced the move of the race on lap 13 with a switchback manoeuvre on Chilton through the esses. From there, he scampered away with a second placed finish.
Chilton held on to third with Cammish and BTC Norlin Racing’s Daniel Lloyd crossing the line behind side-by-side – with Lloyd securing fourth place by just 0.059s.
Reigning champion Sutton went one better in race two as he saw off the challenges from Morgan and the blisteringly quick Toyota Avensis of Ingram.
Pole-sitter Morgan lost the lead to Sutton off the line, and although the former kept the latter honest throughout he was never really close enough to make a concerted effort to get by.
Yet again, it was the fight for the final podium position that created the most excitement with Ingram incredibly grabbing the place late on after a storming drive from 27th on the grid.
He had already picked off rival-after-rival before he blasted by then championship leader Turkington to take fifth on lap 15. Both title protagonists then muscled their way past the impressive VW of Mike Bushell, so now it was Ingram and Turkington in fourth and fifth with just a couple of laps remaining.
Senna Proctor’s Power Maxed TAG Racing’s Vauxhall was hanging on to third but when he ran across the grass through Brook for the second time, Ingram spied his opportunity and nipped through to complete another wonderful comeback drive.
His championship advantage didn’t last long, however, as Team BMW’s Turkington scored his own podium in the final encounter to move back to the standings summit with a four-point advantage over Ingram.
Despite Turkington’s table topping success, the final race will be remembered for Smiley taking his first ever victory in the series in largely dominant fashion. Smiley also became the 12th different race winner of the 2018 season so far.
The other podium places eventually came down to the run to the finish line as Matt Simpson’s Honda lost second to Turkington through Brook. In a dash to the chequered flag it was Simpson who hung on to a podium by just 0.029s from Motorbase man Tordoff.
As well as Turkington heading the Drivers’ standings his Team BMW squad lead both the Manufacturers’ and Teams’ orders. Unsurprisingly, it is Speedworks Motorsport topping both Independents’ tables. Cammish leads the Jack Sears Trophy.
The action returns in two weeks’ time for Rounds 22, 23 and 24 of the Dunlop MSA British Touring Car Championship at Knockhill.
Adam Morgan said: “Winning’s always an incredibly nice feeling. To bring it back on the top spot is fantastic and as always, a massive thanks to Ciceley Motorsport and Mac Tools. The main objective was to get off the line and into turn two in the lead. I was a little more cautious once I’d got there, on the brakes and with the kerbs when the rain started to fall. After that, though, I just tried not to look behind me and to get away. It was slippery four or five laps in and with Tom (Chilton) behind, I was careful. He gained but then it dried and with the temperature in the tyres we pulled the gap. I saw Ash (Sutton) coming but I was calm and relaxed. It’s a lot of weight off my shoulders winning from my first ever pole.”
Ash Sutton said: “It was like re-living Race 2 at Snetterton. We made the right call on tyres at the last minute. We’d gone on wets and we started on stone cold dries – everyone else had a couple of sighter laps to warm up. It’s very much like last year how things are playing out so far this season – better late than never! We’re getting there with the car in race trim and we’ve got something. The Adrian Flux Subaru Racing guys have done a great job. We were third after Race 2 at Snetterton but finished up seventh, it’s an indicator of how quick things can change so we’re not counting any chickens.”
Chris Smiley said: “You’ve no idea what I’ve been through to get that win – I’ve been through hell and back. I can’t thank Bert Taylor, Stephen Symington and Richard Irwin enough for everything they’ve done for me. They’ve put me here and had faith in me and that win is for them. This is the first time I’ve ever topped a practice, qualifying or a race and I can’t believe it. I’m so grateful to the team, all the guys and girls working so hard and to my sponsors. It could get a little bit fun later on!”
Colin Turkington said: “That was excellent. I decided I’d go for it and try and get on the front foot and be aggressive but it was ultimately a race of patience for me. We had the speed in the car and it was about picking the right moment. It was good to get a points swing back in Team BMW’s direction and it’s always nice to bring one of these yellow Dunlop winners caps home for the kids! It’s points in the bag and I’d always rather that, even with the added pressure of leading the championship into a race weekend. We always enjoy Scotland whatever the result. A massive thanks must go to Team BMW – they grafted so hard all weekend.”
Tom Ingram said: “There’s a lesson in this: don’t let yourself get beaten up, don’t let your head go down and look at the positives in any situation. For all the negatives you get, every so often you get a real positive and you can have some fun coming through from the back like that. I got to 12th pretty early on and my engineer said ‘you’ve got the rest of the race to do the rest of it’. For the second weekend running, we’ve had to do the same thing but credit to the lads. We were up against it after Race 1 and we only just got the car back out ahead of Race 2. Thanks to everyone at home for the messages of encouragement again. It really helps.”
2018 Dunlop MSA British Touring Car Championship – Round 19 – Rockingham
1 Adam MORGAN (GBR) Mac Tools with Ciceley Motorsport 18 laps
2 Ashley SUTTON (GBR) Adrian Flux Subaru Racing +3.017s
3 Tom CHILTON (GBR) Team Shredded Wheat Racing with Gallagher +7.031s
4 Chris SMILEY (GBR) BTC Norlin Racing +7.293s
5 Dan CAMMISH (GBR) Halfords Yuasa Racing +7.352s
6 Mike BUSHELL (GBR) Trade Price Cars with Brisky Racing +8.830s
7 Colin TURKINGTON (GBR) Team BMW +9.459s
8 Aiden MOFFAT (GBR) Laser Tools Racing +11.934s
9 Rory BUTCHER (GBR) AmD with AutoAid/RCIB Insurance Racing +13.547s
10 Matt SIMPSON (GBR) Simpson Racing +14.306s
2018 Dunlop MSA British Touring Car Championship – Round 20 – Rockingham
1 Ashley SUTTON (GBR) Adrian Flux Subaru Racing 19 laps
2 Adam MORGAN (GBR) Mac Tools with Ciceley Motorsport +4.426s
3 Tom INGRAM (GBR) Speedworks Motorsport +5.315s
4 Senna PROCTOR (GBR) Power Maxed TAG Racing +7.327s
5 Colin TURKINGTON (GBR) Team BMW +8.170s
6 Mike BUSHELL (GBR) Trade Price Cars with Brisky Racing +12.469s
7 Chris SMILEY (GBR) BTC Norlin Racing +12.579s
8 Rory BUTCHER (GBR) AmD with AutoAid/RCIB Insurance Racing +12.722s
9 Matt SIMPSON (GBR) Simpson Racing +15.417s
10 Tom CHILTON (GBR) Team Shredded Wheat Racing with Gallagher +16.541s
2018 Dunlop MSA British Touring Car Championship – Round 21 – Rockingham
1 Chris SMILEY (GBR) BTC Norlin Racing 16 laps
2 Colin TURKINGTON (GBR) Team BMW +3.563s
3 Matt SIMPSON (GBR) Simpson Racing +5.156s
4 Sam TORDOFF (GBR) Team GardX Racing with Motorbase +5.187s
5 Tom INGRAM (GBR) Speedworks Motorsport +5.305s
6 Rory BUTCHER (GBR) AmD with AutoAid/RCIB Insurance Racing +9.781s
7 Bobby THOMPSON (GBR) Team HARD with Trade Price Cars +12.970s
8 Adam MORGAN (GBR) Mac Tools with Ciceley Motorsport +17.083s
9 Ollie JACKSON (GBR) AmD with Cobra Exhausts +17.811s
10 Dan CAMMISH (GBR) Halfords Yuasa Racing +18.060s
Adrian Flux Subaru Racing has had 10 points deducted from its Manufacturers’ and Teams’ Championship scores having changed an engine above the number permitted
Team Parker Racing has had 10 points deducted from its Teams’ Championship score having changed an engine above the number permitted
Dan Cammish was fined the sum of £1,500 following comment that fell foul of regulations made in a television interview
Ricky Collard was officially reprimanded and had his licence endorsed with two penalty points for overtaking under yellow flag conditions
Rob Austin received a verbal warning for an incident involving Ollie Jackson. This does not count as a strike
James Cole was officially reprimanded and had his licence endorsed with two penalty points for an incident involving Tom Oliphant
Dan Cammish was officially reprimanded and had his licence endorsed with two penalty points for an incident involving Sam Tordoff
Ollie Jackson was officially reprimanded and had his licence endorsed with two penalty points for an incident involving Bobby Thompson
Chris Smiley was penalised with the addition of 0.8 seconds to his race time for an incident involving Mike Bushell. This does not count as a strike