Colin Turkington scored Subaru’s first ever Dunlop MSA British Touring Car Championship victory, while wins for Sam Tordoff and Matt Neal pushed them to the standings summit at Oulton Park.
Having secured pole position on Saturday afternoon, double BTCC champion Turkington produced a lights-to-flag performance in Sunday’s opener.
The Ulsterman made a strong getaway and was able to resist the attentions from Tordoff’s Team JCT600 with GardX BMW in the early running, before gradually stretching his lead in the latter stages.
It’s an historic result for the Japanese marque, which had so far endured a baptism of fire on its introduction to Britain’s biggest motor sport series.
Challenging weekends at Brands Hatch and Donington Park were followed by the difficult decision to withdraw from the race day at Thruxton last time out, amid safety concerns with its fuel system.
New components, engine modifications and a two-day pre-event test seemingly had the desired effect on the all-new Levorg model, as Turkington’s success was bolstered by a hat-trick of podiums for team-mate Jason Plato.
The BTCC’s most winningest driver finished third in Cheshire’s curtain-raiser as the two Subarus sandwiched Tordoff’s West Surrey Racing BMW 125i M Sport for the podium positions.
Tordoff then ignited his championship charge with his first victory of the season in race two – incredibly becoming the ninth different driver to win a race so far in 2016.
The BMW blasted off the line, past pole-sitter Turkington, and never looked back. The unpredictability of this BTCC campaign continued as the Yorkshireman romped home to add his name to an ever-growing list of race-winning drivers.
Turkington and Plato finished second and third to make it a brace of double podiums for Subaru in the first two bouts. Halfords Yuasa Racing’s Gordon Shedden and Speedworks Motorsport’s Tom Ingram finished fourth and fifth respectively.
The result also fired Tordoff to the top of the standings, despite being only sixth in the table at the start of Oulton Park’s proceedings.
Tordoff and Neal then pulled further clear in the championship table after securing the first two podium positions in the final race of the day, with the latter taking a quite dominant victory.
Honda originally looked in place to notch a one-two finish after Shedden muscled his way past MG Racing RCIB Insurance’s Josh Cook on the opening lap. The two bright orange Civic Type Rs immediately pulled away from the rest of the field, but reigning champ Shedden was never close enough to challenge his team-mate. Disaster struck for the Scotsman on the penultimate lap when a puncture, after apparently hitting a kerb, forced him out of contention.
Cook – already reeling from the earlier attack by Shedden – was now embroiled in a fairly heated debate with Tom Ingram’s Toyota, as the pair tapped and nudged their way through the entire contest. The battle would eventually play into the hands of the experienced Plato, who snatched the final spot on the rostrum in dramatic fashion.
Ingram was edged onto the grass as the gaggle of cars ran down to Lodge for the final time. The Speedworks star was determined not to let Cook past, but in holding up his rival he merely opened the door for the Silverline Subaru BMR Racing car to run around the outside and steal the advantage.
Despite being shuffled slightly down the order, young gun Ingram still went on to take his third Independents’ victory of the day – matching his best ever weekend points haul in the process.
Tordoff tops Neal by just one point in the overall championship, with both drivers now pulling clear of the chasing pack headed by Shedden and Rob Collard.
Collard made his final move of the weekend on the run to the chequered flag, rounding off a staggering display from the Team JCT600 with GardX driver. The seasoned racer had seemingly carved his way through the field in each of the Oulton Park races, but misfortune had up to that point prevented him from scoring a real result. He would not be denied in race three, however, as he stormed from 25th to sixth – beating Turkington’s Subaru to the line by just 0.041s.
West Surrey Racing leads the Manufacturers’/Constructors’ points tally, whilst Team JCT600 with GardX top the HiQ Teams’ table.
Despite a relatively low key weekend for Motorbase Performance it still left the Cheshire track in command of the Independent Teams’ title, and its talent Andrew Jordan heads the Independent Drivers’ standings.
MG Racing RCIB Insurance driver Ashley Sutton maintained his advantage in the Jack Sears Trophy.
The Dunlop MSA British Touring Car Championship now moves on to Croft in Yorkshire in two weeks time (18/19 June).
Colin Turkington said: “I’m delighted for the team. This result is good for me, but it’s even better for all the guys who have put in so much hard work and until now got nothing back. To give them a victory and double podium is a great reward. The performance of the car has really progressed since the first three weekends; we’ve found the Subaru Levorg’s sweet spot and the whole package is really moving forward. I really enjoyed the race and felt comfortable in the lead and in the groove. We didn’t suffer from much tyre degradation, which allowed me to just do my thing.”
Sam Tordoff said: “It’s been an amazing weekend. To be honest, I’m a bit lost for words with how well it’s gone. We came here targeting a big points haul to move up the standings, but never in my wildest dreams did I think we would do as well as we have done. Being so hard to overtake at Oulton, qualifying was the key to our weekend – starting third on the grid for race one made our life a lot easier. The car was quick both with and without ballast on-board and to come away with a victory and two second places is just phenomenal. To be going to my home circuit of Croft – a track where the BMW has always excelled – as championship leader is fantastic.”
Matt Neal said: “It seems to be becoming a bit of a trend at the moment that we run under the radar in races one and two with the weight on-board and then win in race three! The ballast certainly hurt us in qualifying and race one, and race two got pretty fraught at times with some really robust driving – we really had to battle for every inch of track space! It was nice to have a more straightforward race three after that, although it was obviously a shame about Gordon’s puncture because it would have been great to take a one-two finish for the team. I was dead chuffed to get the win – I really don’t think I’ll ever get tired of that feeling!”
Jason Plato said: “I knew we were back in the game and that’s what makes me tick! We’re still not 100 per cent and still have a few tweaks to make, but the basics of the car are strong. It’s a fantastic achievement for the whole team and I’m absolutely chuffed for Colin and everybody involved. This project has been five years in the making and it’s been an epic journey. We’ve got something really special here – BMR isn’t a big team, but everybody has done a fantastic job and what they’ve achieved is the most beautiful piece of engineering I’ve ever seen in a touring car.”
Tom Ingram said: “I’m really chuffed – I think we did a cracking job. We were always going to struggle a bit against the rear wheel-drive boys here and the pace wasn’t necessarily there for the rostrum in today’s hotter conditions, but to be one of the quickest front-wheel drive cars was really satisfying. I fought as hard as I could in race three and it would have been nice to come away with an outright podium, but I was more than happy with three top five finishes – it’s the kind of performance we’ve been targeting all season. We ran up at the sharp end all weekend and achieved three really strong results entirely on merit.”
2016 Dunlop MSA British Touring Car Championship – Oulton Park
1 Colin TURKINGTON (GBR) Silverline Subaru BMR Racing 21m56.702s
2 Sam TORDOFF (GBR) Team JCT600 Racing with GardX +2.424s
3 Jason PLATO (GBR) Silverline Subaru BMR Racing +9.954s
4 Gordon SHEDDEN (GBR) Halfords Yuasa Racing +3.429s
5 Tom INGRAM (GBR) Speedworks Motorsport +16.249s
6 Dan LLOYD (GBR) Eurotech Racing +16.388s
7 Josh COOK (GBR) MG Racing RCIB Insurance +19.119s
8 Aron SMITH (IRL) BKR +19.312s
9 Matt NEAL (GBR) Halfords Yuasa Racing +20.395s
10 Andrew JORDAN (GBR) Motorbase Performance +20.819s
1 Sam TORDOFF (GBR) Team JCT600 Racing with GardX 24m15.404s
2 Colin TURKINGTON (GBR) Silverline Subaru BMR Racing +1.638s
3 Jason PLATO (GBR) Silverline Subaru BMR Racing +2.309s
4 Gordon SHEDDEN (GBR) Halfords Yuasa Racing +5.544s
5 Tom INGRAM (GBR) Speedworks Motorsport +6.217s
6 Josh COOK (GBR) MG Racing RCIB Insurance +12.302s
7 Matt NEAL (GBR) Halfords Yuasa Racing +12.552s
8 Andrew JORDAN (GBR) Motorbase Performance +13.207s
9 Jack GOFF (GBR) Team IHG Rewards Club +13.848s
10 Mat JACKSON (GBR) Motorbase Performance +13.989s
1 Matt NEAL (GBR) Halfords Yuasa Racing 22m18.716s
2 Sam TORDOFF (GBR) Team JCT600 Racing with GardX +9.481s
3 Jason PLATO (GBR) Silverline Subaru BMR Racing +11.662s
4 Tom INGRAM (GBR) Speedworks Motorsport +11.760s
5 Josh COOK (GBR) MG Racing RCIB Insurance +11.827s
6 Robert COLLARD (GBR) Team JCT600 Racing with GardX +12.015s
7 Colin TURKINGTON (GBR) Silverline Subaru BMR Racing +12.056s
8 Andrew JORDAN (GBR) Motorbase Performance +12.299s
9 Jake HILL (GBR) RCIB Insurance Racing +12.494s
10 Adam MORGAN (GBR) WIX Racing +12.936s
Featured image: Colin Turkington takes the first ever BTCC victory for Subaru. Photo: BTCC