The Dunlop MSA British Touring Car Championship kicked off the 2018 season with three high-octane, edge-of-the-seat races at Brands Hatch this past weekend (April 7/8).
Months of anticipation, hype and pre-season testing came to a head at the Kent circuit as the series’ 60th anniversary year roared into life.
Boasting a capacity entry list, the first qualifying session of the year brought with it its own drama as Halfords Yuasa Racing’s Dan Cammish dipped under the lap record to score provisional pole, before then losing his best time due to failing to stop for a red flag upon entering the pit lane.
That promoted Jack Goff to the top of the times and the WIX Racing with Eurotech driver was unchallenged at the summit, going on to record his third consecutive pole position.
Race day saw wet conditions greet teams and spectators alike, further adding to the opening round spectacle. Blasting off the line from the front row, Goff converted pole position into a lead that he would ultimately never lose in the tricky conditions.
Fellow front row start Sam Tordoff saw his return to the series cut short as he struggled with wheel spin off the line and was then caught up in a collision at the end of the lap, ending his charge.
At the front, Colin Turkington and Andrew Jordan settled into second and third, the latter dispatching Cammish early on. Turkington soon began to hunt down Goff’s Civic Type R but the Independent driver drove a near-perfect race, defending where he need to and ultimately going on to take victory.
With conditions becoming ever-more difficult to judge, race two turned out to be one of the classic BTCC races. A majority of the front runners elected to stick with the Dunlop wet tyres whilst several further back decided to gamble and run the Dunlop soft option compound.
Turkington’s chances of glory ended before the race even started as his BMW went into limp mode, forcing him to pit and dropping a lap down. Team-mate Jordan launched his 1-Series into the lead from third with Goff and Ingram following.
The trio enjoyed a stellar scrap with Ingram leapfrogging the 2013 champion; further back reigning champion Ashley Sutton slotted into fourth and soon began closing on the top three.
Whilst conditions continued to improve and lap times dropped, it became apparent that the race was only just beginning as those on slicks began to carve their way through. Senna Proctor and Aiden Moffat were the big movers, lapping more than three seconds quicker than everyone else at one stage.
On lap 22 of 27, Proctor and Moffat were on the back of the leaders and took no time in dispatching them. Jake Hill, Ollie Jackson and Tom Boardman pounced just a few corners later and it was soon a five-car battle for the lead.
For Moffat, his aspirations of topping the rostrum came to an end after contact with Proctor sent him into the barrier, however he was able to continue. Proctor meanwhile held his nerve to score his and Power Maxed Racing’s maiden victory in the BTCC, with Hill and Jackson scoring their first podiums too.
Race three didn’t hold the same drama but it did produce another three different podium finishers as Ingram continued his Brands Hatch love affair with a seventh career victory. Adam Morgan and Rob Austin rounded off the podium, scoring an emotional podium in the Alfa Romeo Giulietta.
Following the opening weekend of the season, Ingram holds a slender three point championship lead heading to Donington Park with Goff and Morgan hot on his heels.
For the full classification of results, click here.
Rounds four, five and six of 2018 take place at the Leicestershire circuit on April 28/29.