The opening race of the Dunlop MSA British Touring Car Championship – Lorking Northern (UK) raceday – saw Adrian Flux Subaru Racing’s Jason Plato take a straight-forward lights-to-flag win ahead of Ash Sutton and Colin Turkington.
The racing at the front was also pretty straight-forward with Turkington unable to make inroads into the leading duo in his Team BMW, with team-mate Rob Collard in a similar position back in fourth. Out with the top four though, there was plenty of argy-bargy for the crowds assembled around Knockhill to enjoy.
Halfords Yuasa Racing’s Matt Neal charged through the field in the early stages from his 21st grid position – following a catastrophic Qualifying session yesterday afternoon; ultimately making his way up to team-mate Gordon Shedden who was fighting hard with Josh Cook for 10th position. Whilst Shedden held up Cook moving into the hairpin, Neal pounced on the MG man to slip past before breezing past Shedden on the next lap to move into 10th place on his own – whilst the triple champion was left to fend of the attentions of Cook and Jordan.
The action then switched to the first sector – Duffus, Leslie’s and McIntyre’s – with Brett Smith firing off into the gravel following a three-abreast moment with Rob Austin, Rory Butcher and Smith through Duffus Dip. Ultimately, Butcher took the escape road around the outside and as he came back onto track looking to avoid a collision with Austin, Smith unfortunately got clipped by the Handy Motorsport man and that was enough to fire him off.
Then On lap 21, again at McIntyre’s corner, Adam Morgan had a go for 8th position as he pushed past Dave Newsham with Matt Neal also having a nibble at the Inverness based racer. Newsham would hold on for another lap or so before eventually relinquishing 9th place to Neal on the penultimate lap. Neal then reeled in Morgan in 8th and as the two rounded the hairpin at close quarters, Neal was forced wide into the gravel and had to settle for 9th place overall and 7 points on the board for his Knockhill tally.
“We think we’ve found the gremlin overnight with the car after swapping the diff. It feels completely different and like my old car again,” exclaimed Plato on ITV4.
Plato’s team-mate Ash Sutton remarked:
“Jason wanted to win it and deserved to after yesterday’s qualifying performance. It’s a shame the bonus point switch never worked out but it is great for the team to have a 1-2 at Knockhill.”
The next BTCC race action gets underway at 14.17pm and this one is traditionally the one the sets the tone for the rest of the day. So, to finish off… expect there to be some fireworks this afternoon at Knockhill.