BTCCTouring Cars

BTCC Donington Park Race 2: Jordan Wins, Plato’s Rollover

4 Mins read

A fast starting Andrew Jordan turned his early his early season pace into a concrete marker, winning race two at Donington Park – his first BTCC victory that didn't come in a reverse grid race three.

Once more Matt Neal made a slow start, allowing both Jordan and James Nash past on the run down to Redgate. However, unlike in race one Neal was unable, to regain the lead, saddled with maximum ballast in the turbocharged car for the first time.

The headline story of lap one was the incident as the field snaked down the Craner Curves. Still two or three abreast in places Gordon Shedden – so slightly it left no visible damage on the Honda – appeared to clip the back of Liam Griffin's Airwaves Racing Ford Focus, who in turn hit Jason Plato – starting from the rear of the field after his race one puncture.

The touch pushed Plato on the grass, and scrubbing very little speed off the reigning champions Chevrolet Cruze, missed the tyre wall, hitting the sloping bank beyond, beginning a short but destructive series of rolls that ended with the destroyed Cruze landing on all four (or three) wheels. Plato was unhurt, and the RML-run team are attempting to get the car out on track for the day’s final race.

The time to recover the striken Chevy – and Griffin's heavily damaged Ford – led to a long safety car with the race only restarting on lap seven.

Plato's Cruze rolls on the opening lap

The race, now extended to nineteen laps, the prime mover was Mat Jackson, passing the newer Focus of Tom Chilton and the BMW of Rob Collard in quick succession to move up to fourth place. However, he ran wide, driving over the gravel trap at the chicane to leave himself behind Chilton once more.

The two Fords, Chilton leading, would battle for a number of laps before a mistake by Chilton at the Old Hairpin appeared to have settled the fight in favour of the Jackson. Chilton, the reigning Independents' champion, fought back and the pair ran side by side through Schwantz Curve , before Jackson pulled ahead as the pair approached McLeans. As Jackson moved across to take the inside line for the corner from Chilton, the Airwaves driver was pushed sideways, Jackson recovering enough control and preserving enough momentum to drive through another – this time bigger gravel trap – to rejoin the race in thirteenth place.

It was a relatively minor incident in a race that had just sixteen finishers five cars brought back by tow trucks after spins (or worse).

By lap 12 when Jackson was rallycrossing his way back to the track Paul O'Neill's race had already ended in the Old Hairpin gravel trap, and his recovered car was joined by Nick Foster a few laps later when Jeff Smith eased him onto the grass before the Old Hairpin. The WSR BMW of Foster followed a familiar Donington trajectory – skipping over the gravel trap on the inside of the old hairpin (presumably designed to stop cars in exactly this sort of moment) before spinning across the track on the exit of the Old Hairpin. Luckily, there was no car on that part of the track to collect – Foster crossing between Smith and Tony Gilham – to bring out a second safety car to remove the 3-series from the gravel.

Paul O'Neill on his way to retirement, after being forced onto the grass by Rob Collard

All of this was bringing new teams and drivers into the points with every retirement and delay. Gordon Shedden – who had started from the back, but with the ballast on board for third place – raced his way up to sixth by the checkered flag, having passed Tom Onslow-Cole in the four blast of racing after the second safety car.

Yes, Tom OnslowCole and AmD Milltek After starting the race eleventh Onslow-Cole held his position on merit and simply picked up places when those ahead struck problems, and ended a tidy, intelligent race to bank the first, very popular, points for the AmD Milltek and YourRacingCar combined squad.

“We're included, we're not sitting at the bottom with zero points,” said Onslow-Cole.

“It's big thing for me, it's a challenge to come here and work with the team on trying to get some the milestones under our belt – getting points in the championship and achieving things that haven't been done before with the car – and I relish that challenge, I really enjoy it and it's just to nice to see it going forward already which is really positive. It's all down to my involvement with it at all, the team are working so hard behind the scenes and a lot of the development did over the winter I was totally uninvolved in really brought the car along.”

Onslow-Cole claimed the popular first points for AmD Milltek Racing

At the front of the field Nash tried to apply pressure on Jordan, hoping to force a mistake or Jordan to hit a kerb particularly hard and cause another race wrecking puncture. It didn't work – Nash suggesting that Jordan's additional experience with the Swindon Engines NGTC motor was just enough to split the two Vectras.

Matt Neal held off Tom Chilton for the final spot on the podium, with Rob Collard the first normally aspirated car home. Tony Gilham rebounded from a difficult race one with an eighth place, crossing the line a tenth ahead of Alex MacDowall who was given pole position, and a chance to salvage something for Silverline Chevrolet, for race three in the reverse grid draw.

Mat Jackson, recovering from his off after contact, took the final point.

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James is our Diet-Coke fuelled writer and has been with TCF pretty much since day 1, he can be found frequenting twitter at @_JBroomhead
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