It was a case of the young drivers coming to the front once again with the average age of the winners being just twenty six.
It was Josh Cook claiming his first ever win in the opening race of the day with a dominant drive from pole. He becomes the 19th of the 32 drives on the grid to have won a race in the BTCC.
Cook initially had to fend off Chris Smiley who had qualified an impressive second in his BTC Norlin Racing Honda Civic. Smiley took the lead in the Craner curves but Cook immediately repassed and then left Smiley behind. Smiley then had to try and hold off the rest of the field as he had chosen to run the hard tyre choice in this race leaving him slower than most of the opposition. He wasn’t able to hold them off for long as first Honda’s Dan Cammish and then Sam Tordoff in the Motorbase Focus and several other passed leaving him in seventh place. Cammish wasn’t able to catch Cook though, leaving the Vauxhall Astra driver to claim his first win.
“It’s a little bit easier starting from the front, that’s for sure! I’m over the moon for the guys and everyone who’s put all the hard work in. Senna (Proctor) got his last weekend and I needed mine. We were quick yesterday and I had to battle for the lead. I’m really glad to have brought it home and hopefully it’s the first of many! We’ve always had strong pace over the years but there’s been a bit of bad luck perhaps. We’ve worked so hard over the winter to make sure we’ve nailed our qualifying setup and the Vauxhall’s an amazing drive now – the best car I’ve driven out of the box and every thanks to my engineers for it!” Said Cook after the race.
Cammish took his first podium with second with Aiden Moffat in third. Brett Smith’s Wix Racing Honda was fourth with Cole’s Motorbase Focus fifth.
Race two saw Tom Ingram scything his way through the field to win from back in thirteenth on the grid. Chris Smiley, this time on normal tyres was able to show his true pace and took his first ever podium in second with Wix Racing’s Jack Goff third.
At the race start it had actually been Cammish who shot off into an early lead but he had chosen this race to run hard tyres and like Smiley in race one his pace had fallen away. Smiley had taken the lead first with Ingram following through but Smiley then ran wide at Coppice leaving Ingram an open door heading into the chicane to claim a win. Ingram becomes the first driver to win more than one race in 2018 and because of this he takes the championship lead. Goff’s third was another impressive drive coming from twelfth on the grid. Cammish managed to hold on to fourth, an impressive drive given his choice of the hard tyres.
WIX Racing with Eurotech’s Goff completed the podium, after he too made huge progress from 12th on the grid, while Cammish came home fourth. Ingram was happy to win his second race of the year;
“That was absolutely crazy! It was very similar to the one back at Brands Hatch and the car was just so hooked up. It’s just incredible without the weight. I was really confident heading into the race, as I was losing that ballast. Spirits were high and we had the confidence in the car to make our way through. Chris (Smiley) is driving incredibly well – I knew he’d be a difficult man to pass, but I was delighted to have made the move stick. We really do have one hell of a car here, and it keeps getting better and better! We really struggled in qualifying, but we knew it would come back to us on race day.”
The third race of the day was perhaps the most dramatic with a large first lap incident which left several cars out of the race. Senna Proctor, James Cole, Sam Tordoff, Brett Smith and Josh Price were all out at the old Hairpin and several other drivers including Mike Bushell also spun but recovered.
Up ahead, AmD’s Rory Butcher had started from the reverse grid pole in his MG6 but Ash Sutton and Adam Morgan passed him on the first lap. Butcher had opted to run the hard tyres for race three which now, given the circumstances seemed like a mistake as he started to drop down the order!
There was a long safety car period and after this, Morgan made his move on Sutton at the Chicane to take the lead. Sutton then was slightly swallowed up by the chasing pack. It was Cook who came through to take second in his Astra, to make his second visit to the podium of the day. Aiden Moffat took his Laser tools Mercedes to third, making it a Mercedes 1-3 with Morgan pulling away at the front. This race’s biggest improver was Rob Collard’s BMW charging through from eighteenth on the grid to fourth place.
Morgan was pleased to end his day with a win after not having such a great time earlier in the day;
“When you end up P23 after race one after contact through no fault of your own, you don’t expect to end up with a fifth and a first in the next two. The car’s been fantastic, so a massive thanks to everyone at Cicely Motorsport. Two Mercedes’ on the podium – that’s not happened before. I was very determined there. I didn’t get a win last year, so it’s nice to get one so early on this year. I started to lose the front end towards the end of the race and Josh [Cook] was charging. Points make prizes! It’s always beneficial when you’re on the top step but just to get three results in the top ten is what you need. I’m buzzing!”
So with two wins in the season so far, it’s Ingram in the lead of the Drivers’ standings by seven points from Adam Morgan, with Cook a further eight points back.
In the Manufacturers standings, it’s the Power Maxed TAG Racing-run Vauxhall team who head the Manufacturers’ standings, and unsurprisingly they also top the Teams’ championship too.
Tom Ingram and Speedworks Motorsport hold the advantage in the Independents’ categories, whilst Dan Cammish currently leads the Jack Sears Trophy which this year is for drivers who have yet to score a podium (Before 2018).
Jake Hill won the Jack Sears trophy for the weekend and is also first in Dunlop’s #ForeverForward standings, having made the most passes so far this season. Having started the first race from last after a technical infringement, the Kent driver fought back and took tenth in the final race.
The championship returns at Thruxton in just three weeks’ time on the 19th and 20th May.
Top ten results from the Three races
2018 Dunlop MSA British Touring Car Championship – Round 4 – Donington Park
1 Josh COOK (GBR) Power Maxed TAG Racing 16 laps
2 Dan CAMMISH (GBR) Halfords Yuasa Racing +3.449s
3 Aiden MOFFAT (GBR) Laser Tools Racing +5.520s
4 Brett SMITH (GBR) WIX Racing with Eurotech +6.105s
5 James COLE (GBR) Team Shredded Wheat Racing with Gallagher +11.642s
6 Matt NEAL (GBR) Halfords Yuasa Racing +13.489s
7 Chris SMILEY (GBR) BTC Norlin Racing +16.971s
8 Senna PROCTOR (GBR) Power Maxed TAG Racing +17.176s
9 Tom OLIPHANT (GBR) Ciceley Motorsport +17.995s
10 Colin TURKINGTON (GBR) Team BMW +18.464s
2018 Dunlop MSA British Touring Car Championship – Round 5 – Donington Park
1 Tom INGRAM (GBR) Speedworks Motorsport 16 laps
2 Chris SMILEY (GBR) BTC Norlin Racing +0.834s
3 Jack GOFF (GBR) WIX Racing with Eurotech +3.484s
4 Dan CAMMISH (GBR) Halfords Yuasa Racing +6.214s
5 Adam MORGAN (GBR) Mac Tools with Ciceley Motorsport +6.555s
6 James COLE (GBR) Team Shredded Wheat Racing with Gallagher +7.696s
7 Josh COOK (GBR) Power Maxed TAG Racing +7.873s
8 Ashley SUTTON (GBR) Adrian Flux Subaru Racing +8.396s
9 Rory BUTCHER (GBR) AmD with AutoAid/RCIB Insurance Racing +12.803s
10 Tom CHILTON (GBR) Team Shredded Wheat Racing with Gallagher +14.495s
2018 Dunlop MSA British Touring Car Championship – Round 6 – Donington Park
1 Adam MORGAN (GBR) Mac Tools with Ciceley Motorsport 19 laps
2 Josh COOK (GBR) Power Maxed TAG Racing +0.368s
3 Aiden MOFFAT (GBR) Laser Tools Racing +9.500s
4 Rob COLLARD (GBR) Team BMW +10.023s
5 Andrew JORDAN (GBR) BMW Pirtek Racing +10.266s
6 Ashley SUTTON (GBR) Adrian Flux Subaru Racing +11.831s
7 Matt NEAL (GBR) Halfords Yuasa Racing +12.109s
8 Tom INGRAM (GBR) Speedworks Motorsport +12.577s
9 Tom CHILTON (GBR) Team Shredded Wheat Racing with Gallagher +14.932s
10 Jake HILL (GBR) Trade Price Cars with Brisky Racing +15.147s
Penalties from the weekend
Mike Bushell received a verbal warning for gaining an unfair advantage in an incident involving Jason Plato
Tom Oliphant received a verbal warning for gaining an unfair advantage in an incident involving Adam Morgan
Senna Proctor was officially reprimanded and his licence was endorsed with two penalty points for an incident involving Colin Turkington. As this was his third strike of the season, Proctor started race two from the back of the grid
Jack Goff received a verbal warning for an incident involving Josh Cook
Chris Smiley received a verbal warning for an incident involving Jack Goff By Marc Waller