Kwik Fit | Monday 8th April 2019 4:40pm
The Kwik Fit BTCC is back in action! At the BTCC media day we heard the drivers talk about their chances for the 2019 season. We also got our first look at how the cars and teams were looking ahead of the 2019 BTCC season. However, yesterday it was finally time for the drivers to tackle the Brands Hatch circuit for the first races of the season.
The free practice sessions on Saturday gave the drivers an opportunity to test how their cars were performing after tweaks made since pre-season testing. A competitive free practice 1 saw less than a second separating the top 26 drivers with Andrew Jordan topping the table. Jordan also recorded strong times in free practice 2 coming in behind team mate Tom Oliphant who topped the table. Reigning champion Colin Turkington also looked strong as he completed a BMW top 3 in the second free practice session ahead of qualifying.
The three BMW drivers carried the speed of the new BMW 3 Series into the qualifying round at Brands Hatch taking 3rd, 4th and 5th positions on the grid. However, the qualifying round belonged to BMR Racingís Ash Sutton who achieved pole position for race 1 at Brands Hatch. The qualifying round was interrupted by a number of red flags which made it difficult for the drivers to get into a rhythm. The conditions at Brands Hatch didnít help as Sam Tordoff, Ollie Jackson and Mark Blundell all went off the track. However, Jason Plato recorded strong lap times and came in 2nd for Power Maxed Racing ahead of the BMWs. The Team Dyamics Hondas driven by Matt Neal and Dan Cammish also performed well coming in 6th and 7th. Tom Ingram, Sam Tordoff and Josh Cook took made up the top 10 in an exciting qualifying session.
The first race of the season saw Josh Cook of BTC Racing storm to victory from 10th place on the grid at a wet and foggy Brands Hatch. The tricky conditions made it tough for teams to decide whether to use slicks or wets. The risk of starting on slicks paid off for BTC Racing and Josh Cook as he achieved victory by a margin of 2.7 seconds over Jake Hill in second place. After a strong performance in qualifying, Ash Sutton started the race well from pole. However, Cook surged through the field in lap 9. He began by overtaking Tom Oliphant to move into 4th place and then put himself into the podium positions by moving clear of Turkington at Druids. The decision to run slicks also enabled Cook to overtake the BMW of Colin Turkington and Ash Sutton at the end of the lap. Although Cookís lead was narrowed, he held on to top spot for the first race win of the 2019 season.
Jake Hill and Tom Chilton took 2nd and 3rd spots on the podium after strong performances. The points picked up by Chilton took him to over 1500 BTCC career points after storming up the grid from 13th place. Aiden Moffat also made good progress from towards the back of the grid as he took an impressive 4th position from starting in 23rd place.
Andrew Jordan was the second race winner at Brands Hatch recording the first BTCC victory for West Surrey Racingís new BMW 330i M Sport. Jordanís impressive drive saw him finish 9.728 seconds ahead of Ashley Sutton in 2nd place. Jordan had managed to build up a significant distance between his car and the rest of the drivers leaving an exciting battle for 2nd place between Ash Sutton, Adam Morgan, Jake Hill and Tom Ingram. Sutton managed to just hold off the challenges of Morgan and Hill by 0.022 seconds to maintain 2nd place. Jordanís team mates, Colin Turkington and Tom Oliphant were unable to match Jordanís performance and came in 14th and 15th respectively.
Although Cook was not as strong in race 2, he still managed to retain his lead in the early overall driver standings by finishing in 7th place. Tom Ingram also achieved a good race 2 result as he crossed the line in 4th place with the new Toyota Corolla. This performance looks promising for Toyotaís first season as a manufacturer team since 1995.
The final race of the day proved to be controversial as Tom Chilton was hit with a 5 second penalty for his overtake of Matt Neal. This has opened up an early debate on Ďpush to passí as Team Dynamics appeal against Chilton was successful. This meant that Rory Butcher recorded his first BTCC race win as Chiltonís deduction saw him slip down to 2nd place. Our Marketing Director, Andy Lane, was on the draw for race 3 grid positions and Matt Neal was drawn on pole. However, Neal had a difficult start to the race in the first sector as he was overtaken by the Stephen Jelley who was quick off the mark. Jelley, driving for Team Parker Racing, moved up the grid from sixth to alongside Senna Proctor in second who he then overtook into Druids.
Although Rory Butcher wouldnít have wanted his first BTCC race victory to come in these circumstances, his performance in the Honda last weekend has put him in a good position ahead of the next race weekend at Donington Park. Chiltonís points deduction meant that race one winner Cook moved up into 4th enabling him to maintain a small overall points lead over Chilton at the end of the race weekend at Brands Hatch.
With the first race weekend proving to be just as entertaining and surprising as anticipated, we canít wait to see the action unfold next time out at Donington Park. Last season, Josh Cook, Tom Ingram and Adam Morgan all achieved race wins so they will be looking to replicate last seasonís results in 2019. With Cook leading the driver standings ahead of Donington just ahead of Tom Chilton racing for Team Shredded Wheat with Gallagher, itís set to be an exciting race weekend!
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