Adam Morgan completed a commanding lights-to-flag victory with a faultless display in the opening Dunlop MSA British Touring Car Championship race at Rockingham.
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 nearly let Tom Chilton’s Ford by on the run down to the hairpin for the first time, but as the former went in deep in order to defend he unfortunately tagged second placed Sam Tordoff and tipped him into a spin.
With the 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.
Both BTC Norlin Hondas were impacted in some way, as was Sam Smelt’s Audi, Andrew Jordan’s BMW and Matt Neal’s Honda. Whilst the majority of those affected were able to continue a safety car was called in order to clean up the debris.
There was no let off after the restart as Jason Plato was next to be spun around as his Subaru Levorg dropped to the back of the order after contact. His reigning champion team-mate Ash Sutton was busy making progress as he slipped by Cammish into third, but even better was to come for the #1 Adrian Flux Subaru Racing star.
Sutton produced the move of the race on lap 13 with a switchback manoeuvre on Tom Chilton through the esses and he would then scamper away with a second placed finish. Chilton couldn’t shake off Cammish and Daniel Lloyd’s BTC Honda as those two swapped places in the closing stages.
Team Shredded Wheat Racing with Gallagher’s Chilton held on to third but it was Cammish and Lloyd crossing the line side-by-side – with Lloyd getting the nod for fourth place by just 0.059s.
Mike Bushell enjoyed a stellar performance in his Team HARD-run VW, keeping away from trouble to take sixth ahead of now championship leader Colin Turkington. Team BMW’s Turkington had enjoyed a race long battle with title rival Tom Ingram, but the Speedworks Motorsport man was cruelly denied a finish with a throttle problem on the final lap.
Aiden Moffat (Laser Tools Racing), Rory Butcher (AmD with AutoAid/RCIB Insurance Racing) and Matt Simpson (Simpson Racing) completed the top ten positions.
Adam Morgan said: “It’s always an incredibly nice feeling. To bring it back on top spot is fantastic and as always, a massive thanks to Ciceley Motorsport and Mac Tools. It’s a great start to the day. Hopefully we’ll have a couple more things to celebrate later on. 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. We’ve still got a lot to do from the same position in race two, with 75 kilograms on board. It’ll make things more tricky but anything can happen.”
Ash Sutton said: “I know there was a bit of argy bargy going on but we came out on the good end of it so I can’t complain. She’s looking a little second hand, so it’s given the boys something to do! When you’re sat there and you can see someone struggling, it’s just a case of working out where you’re stronger. I tried selling a dummy once and it didn’t pay off but I knew that was the only way, so I had another try on the next lap and he couldn’t really do much about it. We were fully committed and locked up. He made it very hard!”
Tom Chilton said: “I’ve had sixteen years in the BTCC! I’ve got to make it hard for the young guns! My tyres went off early and even though it was raining and with the safety car, I was still struggling. I was fighting hard and I had no grip. It is the worst feeling in the world. You’ve got to go flat out and you certainly don’t make it easy for anyone, friends or not, to get past. It’s overcast and it can mean anything conditions wise. We don’t know what’s going to happen. I will be carrying 59 kilograms, so we’ll be rain-dancing – it’ll be hard work otherwise with the weight on!”
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
11 Rob AUSTIN (GBR) DUO Motorsport with HMS Racing +16.028s
12 Senna PROCTOR (GBR) Power Maxed TAG Racing +16.305s
13 Jack GOFF (GBR) WIX Racing with Eurotech +16.784s
14 Stephen JELLEY (GBR) Team Parker Racing +22.370s
15 Andrew JORDAN (GBR) BMW Pirtek Racing +23.539s
16 Ollie JACKSON (GBR) AmD with Cobra Exhausts +27.063s
17 Ricky COLLARD (GBR) Team BMW +27.339s
18 Matt NEAL (GBR) Halfords Yuasa Racing +29.702s
19 James COLE (GBR) Team Shredded Wheat Racing with Gallagher +30.304s
20 Michael CAINE (GBR) Team HARD with Trade Price Cars +30.727s
21 Dan LLOYD (GBR) BTC Norlin Racing +31.490s
22 Glynn GEDDIE (GBR) AmD with AutoAid/RCIB Insurance Racing +39.491s
23 Jason PLATO (GBR) Adrian Flux Subaru Racing +40.062s
24 Bobby THOMPSON (GBR) Team HARD with Trade Price Cars +1 lap
25 Tom OLIPHANT (GBR) Ciceley Motorsport +1 lap
26 Brett SMITH (GBR) WIX Racing with Eurotech +2 laps
DNF Tom INGRAM (GBR) Speedworks Motorsport +1 lap
DNF Josh COOK (GBR) Power Maxed TAG Racing +8 laps
DNF Sam TORDOFF (GBR) Team GardX Racing with Motorbase +17 laps
DNF Sam SMELT (GBR) AmD with Cobra Exhausts +18 laps
DNF Ollie PIDGLEY (GBR) Trade Price Cars with Brisky Racing +18 laps