Article date: 30 July 2006
- Round six - Donington Park - race report
Once again there was plenty of action at the sixth round of theDunlop MSA British Touring Car Championship at Donington Park todayin front of packed crowd consisting of 1,000 RAC staff. With atotal points haul of 33, Team RAC's Colin Turkington retains hissecond place in the Championship and reduces the gap at the top ofthe table to 22 points, outperforming Matt Neal and Jason Plato inthe process.
Rob Collard must be wondering when his run of bad luck will come toan end as the final blow came in the last race of the day when hewas forced to retire having only just made it off the startline.
Starting from second on the grid Colin got agood start and by the end of lap one had passed race leader GordonShedden (Team Halfords). Colin held onto the lead until lap sixwhen the front two exchanged places once again. Despite Colin'sbest efforts he was unable to regain the place and took a verycredible second place. Despite carrying 36kgs of success ballastweight, added due to his position in the Championship, he was ableto stay ahead of Championship contenders Matt Neal and JasonPlato.
With a good start to the day, Colin said: "I'm pleased with thatresult as Gordon's obviously got a very quick car. The Team RAC carhas got pretty good pace but I struggled a wee bit with thebalance. The main contenders finished behind me and that's whatcounts. I'm starting from second again in the next race and Gordonwill be quite heavy so I'm hoping to take advantage of that."
Having taken his six-place penalty on the grid, Rob started fromstarted from 12th and made good progress during the early stages ofthe race moving up to seventh by the midway point of the 16-laprace. With an exchange of paintwork between the Team RAC car,Darren Turner and Mike Jordan Rob's race was run and he finishedninth.
Rob explained: "I made really good progress at the start and Darren(Turner) was defending really hard. Darren was a bit slow cominginto Redgate, which pushed me wide and lost me time. I then letMike (Jordan) and Darren battle amongst themselves and managed toget passe d the pair of them. I then took quite a hit from Jordan,which resulted in me colliding with Turner. I could do nothingabout it. Unfortunately, I lost places and the brakes also take areal hammering around here and it affected my race in the closingstages.
VX Racing's Fabrizio Giovanardi completed the top three on thepodium.
The second race of the day was not short onaction with the intervention of two safety car periods to retrievecars from the gravel traps. The first incident involved Team RAC'sColin Turkington when contact with VX Racing's Tom Chilton sentColin off the circuit. He managed to recover but was relegated 12thplace.
Colin was then on the receiving end of a side swipe from SEAT'sDarren Turner who was forced out of control when himself clippedfrom behind. Colin managed to claim eigthth place by the time thechequered flag fell. On a disappointing outcome to the race, Colinsaid: "After contact with Chilton on the first lap my steering wasall to one side and it was a case of just hanging on in. I'm prettydisappointed bearing in mind from where I started the race."
From ninth on the grid Rob started well and had made his way intofourth place by the end of the opening lap. It was at this pointthat the little luck that Rob did have today ran out when he was onthe receiving of a touch from Matt Neal sending the Team RACthrough the gravel. Rob was forced to make an unexpected pit stopfor the team to fit new tyres. Rob returned to the race one lapdown to set the fastest lap (1m13.523s), providing littleconsolation for the Eversley based driver. Rob finished the race in13th.
He said: "I went well at the restart (following the second safetycar period) and was just trying to keep it clean and out oftrouble. Going through the Craner Curves I gave Matt (Neal) plentyof room but on the exit he drove into the side of me, pushing meoff. I've been on the receiving end of the lot of criticism latelyfor my style of driving and I hope to see some consistency from theClerk of the Course."
Colin was on the receiving end of some goodfortune, following the compulsory grid re-shuffle, placing himsecond on the grid for the third time today whilst Rob took the13th spot.
Once again good luck was not on Rob's side. At the start JasonHughes headed for a gap between Mark Smith and Jason Plato sendingthe SEAT driver into a spin, collecting Rob and dispatching himinto the pit straight wall. Stepping out of the car a littleshaken, Rob said: "When I lined up on the grid the Alfa (MarkSmith) didn't pull up straight in his grid box and blocked myvision of the start lights. I may have been slow getting off theline but I did get passed the Alfa and I was up into third gear. Ithen took a huge hit from behind which put me straight into thebarrier at about 70-80mph."
The race was red flagged to clear the debris from the grid and uponthe race restart Colin made a good get away to take the lead. Asall the action took place behind him the Northern Irishman tookadvantage to build up a 2.5 second lead. The race was once againinterrupted to clear the damaged car of Eion Murray and Colin wasfaced once again with a restart.
The onset of rain turned the track greasy and the safety car wasdeployed to clear debris. This time it was the Honda of MikeJordan. Colin's restart skills were tested once again with only twolaps remaining of the race. In a nail-biting finish VX Racing'sFabrizio Giovanardi took the lead from Colin briefly before theTeam RAC man regained the lead to take the chequered flag.
A delighted Colin said: "That was probably one of the toughestraces I've even had to drive in may career. The rain came down andmade the first half of the track really slippery but I got ittogether and tried to stay calm and I'm delighted to get anotherwin. When I crossed the lap and saw there was only one lap to go, Icouldn't believe it. I ran a little wide and Fabrizio got through,but I wasn't prepared to give up that easily."
Colin also secured fastest lap of the race with a time of1m13.351s. Gordon Shedden completed the top three finishers.
Summarising on Team RAC's performance, team principal Dick Bennettsadded: "A fantastic result for Colin in race three and somefantastic racing for RAC staff to watch. I've already receivedseveral text messages of congratulations. I feel sorry for Robhaving been taken out in last race before he had chance to show hisability. We've suffered a lot of damage this weekend and the guyshave a lot of work to do before Snetterton."
Shaun Meadows, marketing director, RAC said: "Well done to Colin,it was a fantastic result and a perfect end to the day for Team RACand especially for our 1,000 staff who were here today showingtheir support."
The next BTCC action takes place at Snetterton on 12/13August.
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