The Dunlop MSA British Touring Car Championship produced another memorable weekend (May 19/20) of racing as Matt Neal, Josh Cook and Adam Morgan stormed to victory at a sun-baked Thruxton.
Marking the third stop on the calendar for the series, following visits to Brands Hatch and Donington Park, the high-speed Hampshire venue proved to be a different challenge altogether for teams and drivers.
Qualifying proved to be a scorching affair as Halfords Yuasa Racing’s Neal stormed to his second pole position at the Hampshire venue in as many years, setting a new lap record along the way. Piloting his Honda Civic Type R to a best time of 1:15.612, the triple champion was joined at the top of the times by Colin Turkington, Brett Smith, Dan Cammish and Senna Proctor.
The wave of young taking it to the established names were hot on the heels of the former champions however with Brett Smith and Dan Cammish, both in Honda’s, locked out the second row of the grid.
With a bumper crowd soaking up the searing temperatures on race day, the opening 16-lap encounter proved to be a tense affair as Neal converted his pole position into a lights-to-flag victory. Launching off the front row, Neal held off the advances of Turkington as the field stream into the Complex for the first time.
Holding top spot, Neal began to get his head down and build up a gap to the chasing Turkington, who was unable to make any inroads into the 51-year-old’s lead. Further behind Cammish held off a charging Andrew Jordan, who ultimately succumbed to the chasing pack, with Sam Tordoff dispatching him.
Neal ultimately went on to clinch victory to become the sixth different winner of the season, with Turkington and Cammish rounding off the rostrum.
Race two proved to be all about Power Maxed Racing’s Cook, who produced a sensational drive to notch his second win of the year. Starting ninth and carrying minimal success ballast, the star of Donington Park showcased his talents once again as he scythed his way through the field.
Latching himself onto the back of the top five within a matter of laps, Cook’s march to the front continued as he threaded his way past Tordoff and Neal, pulling a bold move around the outside of the latter heading into the final chicane.
Soon hot on the heels of Turkington, Cook pulled off a near identical move on the BMW to take the lead, with raptures of applause breaking out on the bankings of his home circuit. Stretching his lead in the closing stages, the Vauxhall Astra driver held his nerve to score his second win in as many events, with Turkington and Neal finishing second and third.
For the reverse grid encounter, Adam Morgan was drawn onto pole position and the Mercedes Benz A-Class driver took full advantage on a circuit which has been a happy hunting ground for him in the past.
Blasting off the line, the Ciceley Motorsport racer commanded proceeding’s as he led from lights-to-flag, starving off an early challenge from Senna Proctor. As Morgan made his escape, the real mover to watch was WIX Racing with Eurotech’s Jack Goff. Starting eighth, the Honda driver had strong pace and wasted little time in fighting his way towards the front.
Despite not being able to do anything about the formidable Morgan, who made it back-to-back race three wins, Goff ended the day with a second place with Proctor gave Power Maxed Racing even more to celebrate in third.
Virtue of his second win of the year, Morgan has now moved to the championship summit, holding a slender one-point lead over Josh Cook, whilst Tom Ingram is a further ten back.
For the full classification of results from all three races, click here.
The 2018 Dunlop MSA British Touring Car Championship resumes on June 9/10, with rounds 10, 11 and 12 taking place at Oulton Park.