It was an incident filled weekend at Snetterton as the BTCC returned to Norfolk following it’s summer break, and in between the series of accidents which marred the starts of races two and three there was some trademark great racing displayed up and down the the field. Collard, Tordoff and Neal all kept pace with each other at the top of the table and there were resurgences for the likes of Gordon Shedden who climbs to 4th, and another impressive weekend for Colin Turkington who now sits in 5th, remarkable for a driver who had scored just two points finishes prior to Oulton Park. Below, I’ve compiled my assessment of some of the biggest winners and losers from the Snetterton weekend.
After a torrid two rounds at Croft and Oulton Park which saw the defending champion tumble down the championship table, pole position, 2nd, 10th and a 1st over the course of the weekend ensure Shedden has catapulted himself right back into championship contention as the series heads to his home track, Knockhill. His first pole position since 2013 showed just how much success ballast can affect the pace of these touring cars but Shedden defended aptly from the experienced Turkington before finally succumbing midway through race one. It was a welcome return to form for the whole Honda garage after Matt Neal showed his experience in race two, staying out of trouble to climb to 3rd place by the checkered flag. This was an important weekend for Honda, who despite traditionally being strong in the closing stages of the season needed to keep pace with Tordoff and Collard and they did just that. At this stage a favourite for the championship is still to close to call, but it promises to be a mighty battle between two of the BTCC’s greatest teams.
Colin Turkington (and Subaru)
In my last few winners and losers segments Colin Turkington has been grouped under Subaru, and they’ve all usually featured in my weekend roundup but at Snetterton Turkington was a class above the rest. After two victories at the circuit last season in his Volkswagen CC Turkington continued his rich vein of form with 1st, 2nd and 6th place finishes as Team BMR continued it’s march to BTCC domination, and in doing so the Irishman has catapulted himself into championship contention. When you think about it, it’s actually quite remarkable and if Turkington is even in contention for the title come Brands Hatch that will surely go down as one of the BTCC’s most memorable comebacks. If he wins then all bets for the new few seasons are off.
All four Subaru’s finished race one inside the top ten, with Warren Scott and James Cole putting in the drive to match their car’s potential, and it was a quiet weekend for the usually flamboyant Jason Plato who was yet to taste victory in his Subaru. I have no doubt that one will come before the end of the season but the the moment over in the Team BMR garage it’s Colin Turkington leading the way by a country mile.
It was only fitting that on a landmark weekend for Motorbase Performance in which they contested their 300th race they tasted success. Despite registering a damaging DNF in race three, Jackson was among the fastest runners in races one and two bringing home a 3rd and a 1st place finish. I tipped Motorbase for championship success before the start of this season, and much of that was based on their blistering pace towards the end of 2015 and whilst the championship now looks unlikely for Jackson or his teammate Jordan the Motorbase Ford was dominant in the closing stages of 2015 and the next few races should bring some good results.
Croft was fantastic for Triple Eight, and Snetterton looked to be going the same way until incidents in race one, ensured MG had a miserable weekend with both cars falling outside the championship’s top ten. To me at least, I think MG are actually having a much stronger season than last year, where, despite keeping Jordan in contention until the final round Triple Eight never looked like they had the pace to win a race outright (although they did win with Jack Goff in race three at Snetterton). This season seems a little different, and the speed is certainly there – we only have to look to Donington Park and Croft for some evidence. Ian Harrison made a bold move appointing Cook and Sutton as his two factory drivers, Cook with just one year’s experience under his belt and Sutton fresh from the Renault Clio Cup however despite their lowly championship position I think this year has been a positive one for Triple Eight, and we’ve seen more than enough speed from Cook and Sutton to suggest that they can mature into consistent race winning drivers. We can put 2016 down to a steep learning experience for both, but to judge Triple Eight on championship position alone this season would perhaps be slightly harsh.
This was a weekend of could-have-been’s for Andrew Jordan, who seems to be vying for the title of BTCC’s unluckiest driver. Jordan switched from the factory backed MG team to independently run Motorbase in search of championship glory and I’m sure despite one stellar weekend at Thruxton the 2013 champ has not had the results he was hoping for. With a mammoth 30 plus car grid, I’ve said time and time again that qualifying is more important than ever this season and with Jordan failing to set a time due to technical problems on Saturday his Sunday was over more or less before it began. It’s difficult to drive through the carnage of the midfield, especially when the cars are now so closely matched in speed and 14th, 14th and 5th were about the best results Jordan could hope for on a weekend when the Motorbase Ford had the legs for victory. I hate to say it, but unless Motorbase can repeat their 2015 form which is unlikely given the level of competition this season I think AJ is already out of championship contention but I’m sure another couple of wins before the end of the season wouldn’t go amiss over there in the PIRTEK garage.