Rounds 13, 14 & 15 of the 2014 Dunlop MSA British Touring Car Championship
The WSR-run eBay Motors team will head into the Dunlop MSA British Touring Car Championship’s summer break as the team to beat following two more victories in the fifth meeting of the season at Croft.
Championship leader Colin Turkington retained his position at the head of the points with a brace of race victories, while Rob Collard enjoyed his best weekend of the season so far to move up to fifth in the championship. Nick Foster meanwhile fought back well from an incident in race one to pick up his best points haul since the Brands Hatch season opener.
Despite maximum ballast on his BMW 125i M Sport, Colin stunned the paddock with an astonishing performance in qualifying, where he smashed the previous lap record to snare pole by more than three-tenths of a second.
Keeping his advantage at the start, despite the decision to make the BMWs run a longer front gear affecting his performance off the line, Colin took a lights-to-flag victory in race one and then repeated the feat in race two to make it six wins for the season.
The additional pressure caused by the changes to the gearbox would ultimately cause him to retire from race three when a clutch issue forced him into the pits, although he remains in the Championship lead with a seven point advantage going into the summer break.
“To get pole position and two wins means it’s been a positive day and the performance we have shown has been really good,” he said. “The only disappointment is the way the weekend ended, as the gearbox change led to a mechanical failure that cost us some good points in race three. It started to slip on the warm-up lap, and just got to the stage where I had no option but to retire.
“It’s a shame that a change that has been forced upon us has cost us in that way, as we have to try and score as many points as we can in every race, but at the same time, it’s hard to be too downbeat about a weekend where you’ve won twice. We’re in a good position; the eBay Motors team and the BMW are performing well, and have to build on it after the summer break.”
Team-mate Collard had qualified sixth on the grid and a strong start saw him move up to fourth on the opening lap of race one. From there however, he was unable to find a way ahead of Jason Plato and had to settle for fourth at the finish.
A strong start in race two saw Rob move up to third spot and he held the position for much of the race before being passed late on by Matt Neal. Shortly before the final race of the weekend however, it was revealed that Neal’s car had failed post-race checks, promoting Rob back into the top three and giving him a fourth podium of the year.
The fifth would follow quickly, as Rob avoided trouble on a chaotic opening lap to move up to third – having started seventh thanks to the reverse grid draw – and then battled ahead to finish race three in second spot; matching his best result to date this season.
Rob now sits fifth in the championship standings.
“It’s been a cracking day today,” he said. “P6 in qualifying was a little bit frustrating and in race one I picked up some solid points. Jason drove really well and knew exactly what he had to do to keep me behind, so I was happy with fourth. We had a bit of an imbalance in the car in race two and I couldn’t keep Matt behind, but then I found out I’d been promoted into the podium positions just as we went out for the final race. The car was a lot better and I avoided the carnage on lap one before putting pressure on Jack. He made a mistake and I went for the move, and although he tried to close the door, it was too late and I was through.
“This weekend has been a fantastic way to end the first half of the year for me, and it’s been great for the team as Colin was stunning in the first two races. I’m going into the summer break on a high, and the fact I have four podiums in the past six races means I’m confident about what we can do in the remainder of the season.”
Nick had qualified 13th on the grid but his hopes of a strong result in race one ended shortly after the start when contact in the pack left him with damaged suspension and brought his race to an early conclusion.
At the back for race two, he raced well to make up no fewer than 17 places from his starting position to cross the line in 13th spot. From the same position at the start of race three, Nick quickly moved into the top ten and ran in ninth spot as part of a multi-car train battling over fifth spot.
He would eventually take the flag in seventh spot and head into the summer break sitting in 16th spot in the championship race.
“Race one was a complete disaster for me,” he said. “Someone hit me up the rear going into turn two and broke the suspension and it meant I had it all to do in race two. Having been wiped out like that, it was really good to come through to 13th place in and score some points, and then in race three, I was able to build on that performance and get the kind of result I’d hoped for in race one from my qualifying position.
“The BMW felt good throughout and I was able to set the second quickest lap of the race which shows the pace we had. If I’d not been in traffic and fighting hard in the pack then we certainly had the speed to finish higher, but seventh was a good result and I’m happy with how things ended.”
eBay Motors heads into the summer break leading the HiQ Teams Championship and the Independents Team Trophy, while Colin also tops the Independents Drivers Championship.
The Dunlop MSA British Touring Car Championship will resume after a five week break for rounds 16, 17 & 18 at Snetterton on 2-3rd August.