James Dodd made it four wins in four races in HSCC Super Touring Car Championship action at Oulton Park, heading home John Cleland for the second time on the Oulton BTCC weekend.
The capacity trackside crowd and thousands of live television viewers on ITV4 were left disappointed when the first attempt to run the race was stopped due a huge rain shower falling just before the race start.
Taking to the track a later in the afternoon, this time in the sunshine albeit not with live television coverage, it was Cleland who started from pole position with Dodd alongside him.
On the rolling start, Dodd maintained his advantage in his ex-James Thompson Honda Accord, with Cleland slotting into second in his 1998 Vauxhall Vectra, the front two instantly pulling a gap to the rest of the field.
Dodd edged away to a lead of 2.2 seconds by the end of lap three, and while Cleland kept in touch and closed slightly over the second half of the race, Dodd was always in control as he completed his weekend double.
“Fantastic race, to win both of them I’m really, really pleased,” said Dodd. “John [Cleland] was keeping me so honest and my tyres had gone off, so I thinking please just hold on a bit longer. It’s great to have been invited here, and hopefully we’ll be invited again someday.”
Behind the leaders, the early mover in the pack was Neil Smith. After gaining two places to fifth on the opening lap, a forceful dive into Old Hall on lap two saw him past Graeme Dodd, before a stunning move around the outside into the Shell Hairpin gave him third from Simon Garrad.
As the Alfa Romeo 156 driver set off in pursuit of the top two, Garrad lost another place at Lodge as Patrick Watts stuck his Peugeot 406 down the inside of the Renault Laguna. Behind, Stewart Whyte got his Honda Accord out of a Nissan Primera sandwich by passing Dodd on the run to Island on lap three.
This put Whyte onto Garrad’s tail, and with the ex-Tom Kristensen Accord being one of the quickest car on track, it was quickly up to fourth with a simple move into Lodge to end the third lap.
Whyte soon closed on to the tail of Watts, with both pressuring Smith in a three car battle for third. After running nose-to-tail for nearly two laps, a mistake under braking into Hislops in lap seven saw Watts run across the grass, allowing Whyte to move ahead and lead the challenge to Smith.
Smith’s defense of the final podium place came to an end on lap nine, a dive down the inside into Old Hall giving Whyte the spot, which he held to the finish. Smith slipped back to fifth on the final lap meanwhile, with Watts taking fourth in his gold and green Peugeot.
“I got mugged a bit at the first corner and lost a couple of places,” commented Whyte. “It was a really good race to come through to third, and I think if we’d had been up there at the front, we’d have been on for the win.”
Garrad completed the top six in his Laguna, while a quartet of Nissan Primera’s completed the top ten, Graeme Dodd heading Keith Butcher, David Jarman and Daniel Wheeler, the last two separated by just 0.200 seconds at the flag.
Max Goff took eleventh in his BMW M3, ahead of Richard Wood’s ex-Gabrielle Tarquini Honda Accord, while Mark Jones passed Kingley Ingram’s Mazda 323F in his Vauxhall Cavalier on the final lap for thirteenth.
Fifteenth meanwhile was another Cavalier in the hands of Tony Absolom, the ex-James Kaye car having been involved in contact on lap seven, when contact with Steve Dymonke’s Alfa 156 sent him into the Shell Hairpin gravel. Another Alfa in the wars was Tom Andrew, his 155 retiring after contact spun him around on the opening lap.
Full race results can be found here: http://tsl-timing.com/toca/2014/142303hst.pdf