James Dodd took victory at the Oulton Park Gold Cup in another controversial Super Touring Trophy race.
Dodd, driving a new to the series 1999 ex-James Thompson Honda Accord, inherited the lead on the second lap when Patrick Watts‘ Peugeot 406 made contact with the Ford Sierra RS500 of Paul Smith. The contact was enough to force both drivers out of the race, with Watts retiring at the side of the track as Smith limped home to the pit lane.
Back at the front of the field, Dodd began to pull out a lead as 1995 BTCC Champion John Cleland fought for the remaining podium spots with Derek Palmer and Stewart Whyte. The trio enjoyed a thrilling battle, with Palmer’s Nissan Primera passing Cleland’s Vauxhall Vectra a couple of times at Old Hall, only to have the Vectra fly past again at either Cascades or Dentons.
The fight swiftly ended on the final lap when Whyte and Cleland made contact, ending Palmer’s chances for a podium as he got caught up in the aftermath. Whyte came across the line to take second, while a less than happy Cleland rounded out the top three.
“My car has always been slow at Old Hall,” Cleland told theCheckeredFlag.co.uk. “The Primera passed me twice at Old Hall and I gave him plenty of room, but I’d get him back a couple of corners later. I saw Whyte coming and I gave him the same amount of room, but he was just carrying too much speed in to the corner. If I wasn’t there he would have gone off.
“It’s a shame because there was a great five car battle and it all ended in tears. I didn’t manage to see what happened to Patrick because I was stuck under the boot lid of the Nissan. I just saw tyre smoke and planted it.”
As would be expected, Whyte believed the incident was the fault of Cleland. “I noticed he was slow through Old Hall,” offered Whyte. “I put the car down the inside and he turned in on me. We start second for tomorrow’s race so we’re definitely going to give it a good shot for the win.”