The 2017 Dunlop MSA British Touring Car Championship will go down to the wire at Brands Hatch in under two weeks’ time after a frenetic Silverstone race day saw the title pendulum swing back and forth.
Ashley Sutton and Colin Turkington are set to go head-to-head for the crown whilst Gordon Shedden and Tom Ingram hold faint chances of triumphing.
In front of a bumper crowd at the Northamptonshire circuit for the penultimate meeting of the year; Ingram, Jack Goff and Matt Neal shared the spoils.
Goff emerged as the early pace-setter during the weekend as he stormed to pole position by 0.001 ahead of Ingram. Qualifying proved to be one of the most competitive sessions in recent memory with the entire field covered by less than a second.
As the lights went out for race one, Ingram jumped Goff off the line to take the lead and ultimately never be headed as he bagged his fourth win of the season. Goff and the Mercedes of Adam Morgan rounded off the podium.
The race was to be cut short however due to a multi-car accident. Contact between Aron Taylor-Smith and Chris Smiley had a knock-on effect on those behind, ending in a sizeable crash.
Rob Collard suffered broken right rear suspension and left the track, sliding across the wet grass and rejoining at Becketts where he was collected by Will Burns, who in turn was hit by Andrew Jordan.
Collard and Burns were both transferred to hospital with the latter suffering rib injuries, but both were discharged later in the day.
Race two saw the tables turned at the front as Goff became the 12th different winner of the season. Hounding Ingram in the opening stages, the Eurotech Racing driver made his move on lap three, scything his way down the inside of the Toyota at Becketts. From there he made his escape as the battle for the remaining podium places were fought for.
Dropping into the clutches of the championship top two, Ingram held onto second but it was for third which proved to be a huge talking point. Sutton produced a last lap move on Turkington on the inside of Luffield before completing the overtake at Woodcote.
Series officials however reviewed the incident and issued Sutton a one-second time penalty, reversing the positions. Due to this being the third penalty of the season for the Team BMR driver, he was forced to start race three from the back of the grid.
Halfords Yuasa Racing’s Neal was the man on the move in the reverse grid race as he went from 12th to first over the course of frantic 25 laps around the 1.64 mile National circuit.
Incredibly, the title battle took another major twist as Turkington found himself caught up in somebody else’s accident. Having been shuffled down the order already, the Team BMW driver had nowhere to go after an altercation between Stephen Jelley and Jason Plato.
Heavy contact forced the Northern Irishman to visit the pits with damage, dropping him a lap down and leaving him scoring zero points. Sutton meanwhile kept his nose clean to make up 20 places and cross the line 11th.
At the front, Neal was picking his way through the field whilst Rob Huff and Tom Ingram scrapped for the lead. Huff produced a stubborn defence and held off the Speedworks driver early on but wasn’t able to do the same to Neal, who got the better of him on lap 21.
As Neal took victory, Power Maxed Racing’s Huff bagged a podium finish on his return to the series whilst Dave Newsham took a breakthrough rostrum for BTC Norlin Racing.
With three races to go, Sutton heads to the series finale with a ten-point advantage over Turkington where there will be a maximum of 67 up for grabs. Shedden and Ingram find themselves 66 and 67-points off the top respectively.
For the full classification of results and championship standings following the ninth event of the year, click here.
Rounds 28, 29 and 30 take place at Brands Hatch on the Grand Prix circuit on September 30/ October 1.