Rounds 19, 20 and 21 of the 2019 Kwik Fit British Touring Car Championship went the way of three different Hondas on a day of thrilling action at Thruxton.
Cobra Sport AmD AutoAid/RCIB Insurance’s Sam Tordoff converted pole position into victory in the opening contest, before BTC Racing’s Josh Cook topped the second bout. Dan Cammish then claimed a first win of the season for Halfords Yuasa Racing in a fantastic finale – making it 16 wins from 30 for the Japanese marque in Hampshire over the last decade.
Success for Cammish and Cook in particular also brought about a change to the overall title picture, as they closed in on the championship-leading BMWs of Colin Turkington and Andrew Jordan, who both experienced a challenging weekend.
Tordoff secured a lights-to-flag victory in race one, after fellow front-row starter Jason Plato fell foul of a drive-through penalty having started the race out of position in his Sterling Insurance with Power Maxed Racing Vauxhall.
Cammish, Adam Morgan and Cook kept Tordoff honest until the finish, with the quartet being covered by a little over a second at the chequered flag.
Cook then scored an eye-catching victory in the second summer BTCC bout in Hampshire, making one of the moves of the season as he went from third to first in the blink of an eye.
The success ballast-laden AmD Honda of Tordoff held the advantage in the early running, but the Yorkshireman had Morgan’s Mac Tools with Ciceley Motorsport Mercedes-Benz and Cook’s Civic Type R swarming all over the back of him.
Morgan made his attempt down the inside having exited Church on lap four – the fastest corner in the country – while Cook tried the outside on the run down to the final chicane. All three cars made it through without any contact and emerged across the start/finish line with Cook leading the way. He never looked back, winning from Morgan by nearly two seconds.
A huge scrap for third ensued behind with a ballast-laden Tordoff the cork in the bottle at the head of a queue of cars. Unfortunately for the race one winner, the pressure eventually told on lap 11, and he was shuffled down the order.
Team BMW’s Tom Oliphant and Halfords Yuasa Racing’s Matt Neal ran in third and fourth respectively as the final place on the podium was decided at the last corner. Neal’s Honda Civic Type R got a great run on the 3 Series ahead of him and the triple BTCC champion nipped through around the outside at the final chicane to reach the rostrum – crossing the line just 0.080s ahead of Oliphant.
Cammish – scorer of eight podiums from the previous 14 races – then broke his, and Halfords Yuasa Racing’s, 2019 race-winning duck in the reversed grid bout.
A sticky start in the second contest sent Cammish slightly down the order, and lightning looked like it might strike twice when he fell to third from the front row in the final encounter.
It was the fast-starting BMW of Oliphant that had nipped in front of Cammish, while Sterling Insurance with Power Maxed Racing’s Rob Collard led the way.
The lead trio pulled away whilst battles commenced throughout the order, but it was all eyes on the front-runners as Cammish slipped into second midway through the scheduled 16 laps.
With grey skies looming, rain began to fall on the classic 2.4-miles of Tarmac and cars immediately twitched gingerly around the fastest circuit in the country.
The moment of truth came on lap ten when Collard’s Vauxhall Astra wiggled through Church, dropping his rear-left wheel on the grass in the process. With a loss of momentum on the run to the final chicane Cammish was able to blast his Honda Civic Type R around the outside and into an unassailable lead.
Collard held second until the finish but it was Oliphant who was now struggling in the damp conditions as he dropped to seventh, meaning Neal would eventually join his Honda team-mate on the podium.
Turkington and Jordan collectively endured their toughest weekend of the season so far, taking a best result of ninth and seventh respectively, meaning Cammish and Cook’s impressive points hauls have reignited their championship hopes.
Turkington now leads the Drivers’ standings by 30 points from Jordan, with Cammish and Cook just a handful of points further back.
BMW top the Manufacturers’ order but Halfords Yuasa Racing has now moved ahead in the Teams’ table.
Cook and his BTC Racing squad are at the summit of the Independents’ standings, whilst Rory Butcher still holds the advantage in the Jack Sears Trophy.
The Kwik Fit British Touring Championship returns at Knockhill in four weeks’ time (14/15 September).
Sam Tordoff said: “I’m relieved as that’s probably long-overdue – a bit of redemption after what happened here a few months ago. It was one of the longest 16-lap races I’ve ever done! It probably looked like I was managing it from the pit-wall but it didn’t feel like it! I was giving it everything. It’s a great start from the team. I got the radio call about Jason (Plato) at the end of lap one and that was a big relief. Commiserations to him but rules are rules.”
Josh Cook said: “That went to plan! It was a bit hairy at the start and the overtake into the chicane was too! I was clear of Sam (Tordoff) and had to outbrake Adam (Morgan). I was on the outside and had to brake as late as I dared and made it stick. I was working hard out front because of Adam and I had to be mindful of the tyres around here too. We’ve had a few rounds where we’ve struggled with the weight but we’ve gone well here. Credit to the team. We’ve had our heads down working hard.”
Dan Cammish said: “A few hours ago I thought this was never going to happen. When the rain started coming down I was thinking ‘do not drop this’. It’s been my best ever weekend with first, second and fifth. We’ve been racing the BMWs and fair play to them and I’ve consistently punched above my level without the rewards until right now. I’m fighting back from a deficit from the first two weekends and there’s a lot of racing to go. I’m in one of the best seats in British motorsport. There’s a long line of people that want my job and I’ve got to continually prove myself and make myself better.”
Colin Turkington said: “I’m not actively trying to manage things! I would like to be faster. The car was better in race three but when you start ninth, or so, it’s very hard to get through. I thought we were in a better place but when the rain came down it was very tricky. The car was skating all over the place. Hopefully this is our one difficult weekend. It was hard graft for not very much reward – we’re not used to being outside the top ten. We’ll go to Knockhill looking for more. It’s good BMW territory so we’re hopeful we’ll be back at the front.”
2019 Kwik Fit British Touring Car Championship – Round 19 – Thruxton
1 Sam TORDOFF (GBR) Cobra Sport AmD AutoAid/RCIB Insurance16 laps
2Dan CAMMISH (GBR) Halfords Yuasa Racing+0.403s
3Adam MORGAN (GBR) Mac Tools with Ciceley Motorsport +0.714s
4Josh COOK (GBR) BTC Racing +1.208s
5Tom OLIPHANT (GBR) Team BMW+3.189s
6 Rob COLLARD (GBR) Sterling Insurance with Power Maxed Racing+4.660s
7 Rory BUTCHER (GBR) Cobra Sport AmD AutoAid/RCIB Insurance+8.923s
8Matt NEAL (GBR) Halfords Yuasa Racing+10.562s
9 Ashley SUTTON (GBR) Adrian Flux Subaru Racing +10.863s
10 Chris SMILEY (GBR) BTC Racing +11.446s
2019 Kwik Fit British Touring Car Championship – Round 20 – Thruxton
1Josh COOK (GBR) BTC Racing 16 laps
2Adam MORGAN (GBR) Mac Tools with Ciceley Motorsport +1.973s
3Matt NEAL (GBR) Halfords Yuasa Racing+8.360s
4Tom OLIPHANT (GBR) Team BMW+8.440s
5Dan CAMMISH (GBR) Halfords Yuasa Racing+9.022s
6 Rob COLLARD (GBR) Sterling Insurance with Power Maxed Racing+9.608s
7Andrew JORDAN (GBR) BMW Pirtek Racing +10.082s
8Tom INGRAM (GBR) Team Toyota GB with Ginsters +10.666s
9Colin TURKINGTON (GBR) Team BMW+10.823s
10 Sam TORDOFF (GBR) Cobra Sport AmD AutoAid/RCIB Insurance+13.823s
2019 Kwik Fit British Touring Car Championship – Round 21 – Thruxton
1Dan CAMMISH (GBR) Halfords Yuasa Racing15 laps
2 Rob COLLARD (GBR) Sterling Insurance with Power Maxed Racing+1.974s
3Matt NEAL (GBR) Halfords Yuasa Racing+4.670s
4Adam MORGAN (GBR) Mac Tools with Ciceley Motorsport +5.444s
5Jason PLATO (GBR) Sterling Insurance with Power Maxed Racing +6.239s
6Josh COOK (GBR) BTC Racing +6.585s
7Tom OLIPHANT (GBR) Team BMW+7.814s
8Tom INGRAM (GBR) Team Toyota GB with Ginsters +8.513s
9 Ashley SUTTON (GBR) Adrian Flux Subaru Racing +8.996s
10Andrew JORDAN (GBR) BMW Pirtek Racing +9.428s
Penalties: From Snetterton (Race 3):
Matt Simpson received a verbal warning for an incident involving Senna Proctor.
Aiden Moffat received a verbal warning for an incident involving Senna Proctor.
Jason Plato received an official reprimand and had his licence endorsed by the addition of the two penalty points for an incident involving Chris Smiley.