With Ashley Sutton and Dan Lloyd on the front row of the starting grid, the opening TCR UK race at Oulton Park provided plenty of promise. Off the line, however, it was Ollie Taylor from third place who got the best start as he moved up ahead of championship rival Lloyd. Just behind in the midfield, Derek Palmer jr and Lewis Kent both made early progress up the order, but out in front Sutton quickly began to ease out a lead gap.
For DPE Motorsport, this round at Oulton Park had so far been trouble-free; something of a rarity for them in 2018. However, on lap two, misfortune would strike once again. After Carl Swift got a poor exit from Cascades corner, Jessica Backman managed to pull up alongside and pass his Maximum Motorsport Cupra. Immediately behind, Robert Gilmour also wanted a piece of the action.
Having stepped in to replace Aiden Moffat mid-season, reliability woes for the DPE Motorsport Alfa Romeo meant that Gilmour had failed to start any of the four races he’d entered up until now. With that in mind, its easy to understand why he’d be eager to get stuck in. Unfortunately, he proved to be a little too eager. On the inside line, Gilmour made somewhat clumsy contact with Swift’s car, forcing them both off of the circuit at full speed on the entry to turn three.
The Alfa Romeo Giulietta TCR was totally written-off as a result, while Carl Swift’s Cupra TCR miraculously avoided picking up any serious structural damage. Both would clearly have to retire though, and with two dangerously placed stricken cars and the tyre barrier requiring a rebuild, the race was halted at the end of lap two.
When the race restarted, Dan Lloyd got an even worse launch off of the line than before. Instead of losing out to just Ollie Taylor, Derek Palmer jr and Andreas Backman also swept past, though the latter was swiftly overtaken again before Cascades corner. The stand-out getaway, however, was that of Palmer. In the sister DPE Motorsport Alfa Romeo, the Scotsman rocketed his way up to second place from fifth position on the starting grid.
Again, Lewis Kent looked as though he was in good form once the race was restarted. After many laps of trying, Kent eventually made his way past Jessica Backman for sixth place on the entry to turn one. With just under ten minutes of the truncated opening race to go, the next target a little further up the road was Jessica’s brother Andreas, who Kent also seemed to be quicker than. Unfortunately though, time simply ran out for the Hyundai driver, who would have to settle for sixth.
But, that sixth place would soon transform into fifth on the time sheets, as Palmer and Taylor were unexpectedly hit with punishments from the stewards. Both drivers were found to have started the race out of position on the grid, earning them a ten-second penalty each, while Palmer was also accused of exceeding track limits for which he lost another five seconds. Despite running in second and third place on the road, this would plummet the pair of them down into the lower reaches of the top ten. After the race though, Palmer won an appeal against the ten-second penalty, promoting him back up to fourth.
Ashley Sutton would’ve been none the wiser, however. The reigning BTCC champion cruised to a seemingly comfortable victory on his TCR UK debut for Team Pyro, while the WestCoast Racing team-mates Dan Lloyd and Andreas Backman completed the post-penalty podium.
Full Race Result:
[table id=3289 /]