As part of a new feature for the 2013 racing season, Torque F1 will be bringing you a weekly round-up of all of the major motorsport from around the world.
This will be split into two features, the world motorsport round-up, which will look at endurance racing, touring cars, World Series by Renault, DTM and GT racing amongst other international series, and starting next week, the US motorsport round-up, which will cover championships including IndyCar, NASCAR, ALMS and Grand-Am.
Without any further ado, here is a look at the motorsport action from Easter weekend, which this week focuses on the opening round of the British Touring Car Championship from Brands Hatch, as well as the first action from this year’s FIA GT Championship from Nogaro.
British Touring Car Championship (Round 1/10, Brands Hatch)
Jason Plato enjoyed the best of the opening round of the British Touring Car Championship after two wins and a fifth gave him the championship lead at Brands Hatch.
Plato won the opening two races of the weekend as he established a nine-point lead over Andrew Jordan, who followed the Momentum Racing driver home both times.
Reigning series champion Gordon Shedden also impressed after twice coming from the back of the field to finish in the top three, although only one of the Scot’s efforts got the recognition it deserved after he was disqualified from third in race two over a ride height infringement.
Shedden then bounced back in race three with an even more impressive drive, taking his Honda from last to second and missing out on victory by just 0.083 seconds to his Yuasa Racing teammate Matt Neal.
The BTCC has a reputation for frenetic, action-packed racing, and the series lived up to its billing in fine style at the famous Brands Hatch circuit as the season got underway.
Jordan began race one on pole, with Shedden alongside him, but it was Rob Austin in the Audi A4 who got the best getaway to jump from sixth to second. Austin then got the best run out of Clearways and onto the pit straight at the end of lap one to pass Jordan and take the lead. Plato also took full advantage of the scrap for first to pounce and relieved the polesitter of second place.
Following a brief period behind the safety car after James Cole beached his Vauxhall Insignia in the gravel at Paddock Hill bend, Plato began to put the pressure on Austin before finally taking the lead at Druids. Austin was beginning to struggle on the softer, less-durable tyres, and a few laps later Jordan regained second place from the WIX Racing driver at Clearways.
Having freed himself of the slower Austin, Jordan steadily began to erode Plato’s lead, consistently taking a couple of tenths out of the advantage, which had reduced to half a second as the pair began their final lap.
It looked as though Plato was going to take victory, but Jordan attempted a last-gasp lunge at Clearways and misjudged it badly, sending both cars into the gravel. Somehow, the pair of them kept their cars pointing in the right direction and recovered to take first and second, Austin’s tyre struggles in the closing stages bad enough that he’d dropped too far back to take advantage of the collision ahead.
The pattern repeated itself in race two, with Plato this time taking a more comfortable victory ahead of Jordan, contact for once not a factor in deciding the victor. The main movers this time were the Yuasa Racing Honda’s of Shedden and Neal, who both recovered from problems in race two to take third and fifth, although Shedden’s hard charge came to nothing when his exclusion was confirmed.
The other talking point of the second race was Frank Wrathall. Having charged brilliantly from 25th to sixth in the day’s opening gambit, the Lancastrian decided he was going to play a bit of dodgems with his Toyota Avensis rather than race it, with his antics taking off both Colin Turkington, returning to the series for the first time in three years, and Austin before his race ended in the gravel at Druids having this time crossed swords with Neal.
The draw for race three pole saw Mat Jackson line up in first place (although only after Shedden’s exclusion in race two saw him bumped up the order) ahead of Adam Morgan. The opening stages of the day’s final action was dominated by a huge crash for Austin, who was hit by Dave Newsham’s out-of-control Toyota at the exit of Paddock Hill and spun into the tyre barrier with such force that it ripped the passenger’s side door from the A4.
Thankfully Austin walked away from the impact, but the damage to the Audi means his participation in the next round at Donington is unlikely.
Jackson led following a safety car period to clear up the mess from that crash, but his Ford Focus lost power at Druids on lap eight and forced him to stop, handing the lead to Neal. Shedden, in the other Yuasa Racing Honda, was completing his second drive from the back of the grid, and with two laps remaining he benefitted from a scrap between Sam Tordoff and Morgan at Clearways to pass them both and move into second.
Despite a two-second gap to Neal, Shedden charged for victory and was right on his teammate’s bumper as he exited Clearways on the final lap. However, despite the gap closing all the time, he just failed to complete the move as Neal held onto win by just 0.083 seconds.
The results from the opening round leave Plato at the head of the standings with 54 points, nine points ahead of Jordan, with Tordoff, Jeff Smith and Neal completing the top five.
1) Jason Plato (MG6 KX Momentum Racing) – 27 laps
2) Andrew Jordan (Honda Civic Pirtek Racing) – +2.168 secs
3) Rob Austin (Audi A4 WIX Racing) – +6.130 secs
4) Sam Tordoff (MG6 KX Momentum Racing) – +7.781 secs
5) Jeff Smith (Honda Civic Pirtek Racing) +8.245 secs
1) Jason Plato (MG6 KX Momentum Racing) – 27 laps
2) Andrew Jordan (Honda Civic Pirtek Racing) – +0.989 secs
3) Jeff Smith (Honda Civic Pirtek Racing) – +4.958 secs
4) Matt Neal (Honda Civic Yuasa Racing) – +5.073 secs
5) Sam Tordoff (MG6 KX Momentum Racing) – +5.454 secs
1) Matt Neal (Honda Civic Yuasa Racing) 27 laps
2) Gordon Shedden (Honda Civic Yuasa Racing) – +0.083 secs
3) Sam Tordoff (MG6 KX Momentum Racing) – +1.216 secs
4) Adam Morgan (Toyota Avensis Ciceley Racing) – +2.171 secs
5) Jason Plato (MG6 KX Momentum Racing) – +3.651 secs
1) Jason Plato (MG6 KX Momentum Racing) – 54pts
2) Andrew Jordan (Honda Civic Pirtek Racing) – 45pts
3) Sam Tordoff (MG6 KX Momentum Racing) – 40pts
4) Jeff Smith (Honda Civic Pirtek Racing) – 35pts
5) Matt Neal (Honda Civic Yuasa Racing) – 34pts
For full results and championship standings from the BTCC, please go to http://www.btcc.net.
FIA GT Championship (Round 1/6, Nogaro, France)
Is there anything that Sebastian Loeb can’t win in? That was the question many were asking after the umpteen-time World Rally Champion, along with Alvaro Parente, won Sunday’s qualifying race in the FIA GT Championship at Nogaro.
It was a result the pair should have repeated in Monday’s main race, but Loeb, in his haste to hand over his McLaren MP4-12C to Parente, undid his seat belts too early and was given a drive-through penalty. As a result the pair dropped to sixth, which ultimately became 13th after being given a 30 second penalty for Parente’s part in a collision with Rene Rast.
Rast and WRT Audi R8 teammate Nikolaus Mayr-Meinhof crossed the line first, but were also given a 30 second post-race penalty, which demoted them to eighth and gave the win to their teammates Frank Stippler and Edward Sandstrom, with fellow Audi drivers Stephane Ortelli and Laurens Vanthoor awarded second. The podium was completed by
In other news, a blast from the past in another sport took victory in the gentleman class, as France football legend Fabian Barthez and his teammate Gerard Tonelli brought their Ferrari 458 Italia across the line ahead of any other amateur pairing.
For the full classification and championship standings from the weekend’s action in Nogaro, please visit www.fiagtseries.com.