Article date: 16 July 2006
- Round five - Croft - race report
It was all-action as the three Dunlop MSA British Touring CarChampionship races got underway at Croft. In front of a bumpercrowd, brought out by the fantastic weather, Team RAC didn'tdisappoint its supporters with close racing and two podium placesfor Northern Irishman Colin Turkington. Whilst Colin remains secondin the Championship and secured 30 points over the weekend, MattNeal increased his overall lead to 39 points at the top of thetable.
Rob experienced a difficult weekend with his best result coming inthe opening race. An incident in the second of today's races causedextensive damage to the steering rack on his MG ZS hampering hischances.
Colin Turkington kept the pressureon Matt Neal during the opening race of the day finishing fourthbehind the current Championship leader. Carrying 36kgs of successballast Colin made up three places during the race to collect eightvaluable points. Climbing out of the extreme heat of his car Colinsaid: "I made a pretty good start and got passed one car by thefirst corner. There was a lot of action going on out there and Iwas on the grass a couple of times. The car has improved sinceyesterday but we've still got some work to do for the nextrace."
Rob Collard was in the thick of the action with both of the TeamHalfords drivers. First it was Gordon Shedden who took objection toRob's clear pass, causing damage to the front quarter of the TeamRAC car. Next up was contact with Matt Neal, resulting in Rob'smechanics forcing the door open upon its return to the pits. Robsaid "Things opened up for me nicely on the first lap and I wasable to make a couple of passes. I then got to Shedden and I made areally good out-braking manoeuvre on him into Tower corner. I wasthree-quarters passed him and I was driven out onto the grass. Ithen had some to-ing and fro-ing with Matt, causing a bit moredamage. The car felt in better shape than yesterday, but the boyshave quite a bit of work to do now for the next race."
Jason Plato (SEAT Sport UK) took the race win with teammate JamesThompson in second and Matt Neal (Team Halfords) completed the topthree.
It was a race of mixed fortunes asRob Collard retired early whilst Colin Turkington went on to securea third place step on the podium.
Rob's retirement came on lap three as he collided with Vauxhall'sFabrizio Giovanardi resulting in steering and gearbox problems. Onhis early return, Rob said: "I admit I made a mistake and I'm sorryfor ruining Fabrizio's race. I saw a gap and carried a bit too muchspeed. Unfortunately, I had nowhere left to go."
Colin battled hard to keep hold of the leading pack, which finallypaid off on the last lap passing James Thompson into Sunny corner.Colin said: "It was a very difficult race. I had good pace at thestart but things became pretty tough in this heat. James ran wideon the last lap and I managed to make a pass on the inside. I'mreally please to be back on the podium."
Matt Neal and Jason Plato completed the top three finishers.
Following the compulsory gridre-shuffle, Colin Turkington and Rob Collard lined up fourth and19th respectively.
Colin visited the podium again after finishing second in the finalBTCC race of the day. Returning the car to Park Ferme he said: "Imanaged to keep a fairly good pace throughout the entire race.Shedden ran wide with two laps to go and I slipped through. I'vegot a fourth, third and a second this weekend so I'm pleased,especially for the team."
Rob had a difficult race ahead of him starting from the back of thegrid but he battled hard to eventually finish the race in 10th.With the car still suffering some of the effects from the previousrace incident Rob said: "That race was all about staying out oftrouble really. The steering was predictable but didn't feel 100%.I managed to pick a few people off during the race. The team did afantastic job in repairing the damage from the previous race so I'mpleased with the end result all things considered."
First passed the chequered flag was James Thompson with Matt Nealmaking a last corner manoeuvre on Jason Plato to take the finalpodium place.
Summarising on Team RAC's performance, team principal Dick Bennettsadded: "Once again I'm delighted with Colin's performance with afourth, third and second and he still keeping some pressure at thetop of the leader board. It was an unfortunate weekend for Rob butit is all credit to the Team RAC mechanics for repairing his carfor the third race of the day."
To arrange an interview with a member of Team RAC,please contact Sarah Owen on 07793 633153.
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