Watts Wins As Nissans Party Like It’s 1999

Patrick Watts finally took his Peugeot 406 to victory on British soil in the second Super Touring race of the weekend at Brands Hatch.

The victory came after a disappointing first race on Saturday afternoon ended with both of the returning British Touring Car Championship legends, Watts and John Cleland, retiring on the second lap, Watts with a loose wheel and Cleland with a driveshaft issue.

“It was great fun,” said Watts. “It was really hard getting passed the Labatts RS500, while the Super Tourers had the pace in the corners, he’d come flying passed on the straights. It was a great race with James [Dodd] too, and he was able to keep up which made it great for the fans to see.”

Round 2 of the Touring Car Trophy. #12. Patrick Watts. Peugeot 406. Class A.

Credit: PSP Images

Saturday’s race ended with James Dodd taking a dominant win in an ex-works Nissan Primera, followed home by a similarly liveried Primera of Derek Palmer, taking Brands Hatch back to 1999 when Laurent Aiello and David Leslie took Nissan to the Manufacturers’ Championship title.

Sunday’s race featured much more action, provided mainly by Cleland and Watts, who had to carve their way through from the back of the grid after the previous race’s retirements.

Watts made a brilliant getaway in the rolling start race, moving up to sixth position by the time the cars had reached Graham Hill Bend, which was not unexpected after he took pole position on Saturday morning by nearly three seconds.

It took just four laps for Watts to park himself firmly in the mirrors of Dodd’s Primera, passing Palmer and Dave Jarman to break up a potential Nissan 1-2-3. It was just a matter of time before Watts passed the Nissan, but Dodd managed to keep a close gap between himself and the Peugeot, following Watts home to make his second trip to the podium for the weekend.

John Cleland also battled up to a podium finish from the back of the grid, being locked in a long battle with Jarman, which saw Cleland get right in to the spirit of the 90s and switch his headlights on, signifying his intent to make his move. The Vauxhall Vectra finally passed the ex-Matt Neal Primera at Surtees on the final lap of the race, meaning Cleland would join Watts on the podium.

“I was trying all the tricks in the book, lights on, lights off – it was a bit of fun,” said the 1995 BTCC Champion. “We had to make some new parts overnight after the suspension mount for the engine broke in the first race, which could have been an issue, but there were no problems with them. There’s some pace left in me, too. It was the first time I’ve raced on slick tyres since 2005 so it’ll take some time to get used to them again.”

Round 2 of the Touring Car Trophy.

Credit: PSP Images

The Super Touring Trophy will be back in action again at the Silverstone Classic in two weeks time (26-28 July), and although John Cleland will be absent with a prior engagement, 1992 BTCC Champion Tim Harvey will be joining the fun in his 1989 Ford Sierra RS500.