Article date: 21 September 2009
Team RAC’s Stephen Jelley recorded a stunning double win in the penultimate round of the BTCC season at Rockingham.
Jelley, whose previous best results were two second placed finishes at Croft earlier in the year, proved too strong for the rest of the field as he dominated the first and third races.
Team mate Colin Turkington completed a memorable day for the team by provisionally securing his third consecutive BTCC Independent Drivers’ title in the final race of the day.
Turkington recovered well from a disappointing qualifying session on Saturday to record two fourth placed finishes and also increase his lead in the overall Drivers’ Championship ahead of the final round at Brands Hatch (4 October).
Team RAC lie in second position in the overall Teams’ Championship and comfortably lead the Independent Teams’ Championship.
A masterful drive from Stephen Jelley saw the Leicester man claim his maiden victory in the BTCC and start what proved to be a memorable day.
From fourth on the grid, Jelley got off to a great start passing both Jason Plato and Mat Jackson on lap one. Jelley’s BMW then hunted down the similar car of race leader Jonathon Adam before taking the lead on lap nine, and streaking away to win by over three seconds from Jason Plato.
Championship leader Colin Turkington recovered from a disappointing qualifying session to finish 10th, having started 14th on the grid. Carrying maximum ballast, Turkington showed good pace despite being forced into a spin on lap 14, to put him in with a chance for race two.
The ever-improving Anthony Reid finished an encouraging 11th in only his fourth race of the BTTC season. As has been a Team RAC trademark this season, Reid got off to a flying start, which enabled the Scot to move up five places after the first lap before following team mate Turkington home.
Colin Turkington claimed a fourth placed finish from 10th position on the grid following an impressive drive in his Team RAC BMW .
Following a great start, when he made up four places, The Ulsterman then passed Jonathan Adam and team mate Stephen Jelley before chasing down Championship rival Fabrizio Giovanardi. However Turkington was unable to pass the Italian in the closing stages and finished just outside the podium positions.
Race one winner Jelley led the field for the first six laps before dropping back after running wide on the exit of the Deene hairpin. Carrying maximum ballast, the Team RAC man was unable to repeat the pace he showed earlier in the day and finished in sixth.
Anthony Reid also suffered disappointment after being hit by Tom Chilton on the second lap which relegated him to the back of the field. Chilton was subsequently penalised for his actions, but this was scant consolation for Reid, who drove well to finish in 12th, but out of the points.
A thrilling final race of the day saw Team RAC’s Stephen Jelley claim his second career victory, his BMW having again dominated the field. Jelley started fourth on the reverse grid and drove superbly throughout to finish ahead of Andrew Jordan in second.
Jelley also recorded the fastest lap of the race, just 0.2 seconds off the Rockingham lap record, to claim maximum points.
Team mate Colin Turkington was in the thick of the action as he battled Championship rivals Fabrizio Giovanardi and Jason Plato for much of the race.
Having fought his way up to third from sixth on the grid, Turkington was hit by Plato on lap 14 but somehow managed to keep the BMW on the track before re-passing Giovanardi, Plato and ex Formula 1 star Johnny Herbert.
The Team RAC man finished just outside the podium positions in fourth, whilst Giovanardi and Plato both finished outside the points, handing the advantage to the Ulsterman heading into the final round of the season.
Anthony Reid drove solidly once more, but suffered disappointment when damage from an earlier collision forced the Scot to retire two laps from the end.
Colin Turkington said: “Qualifying down the field wasn’t the ideal start to the weekend but I managed to find some pace, especially during the final two races, and to come away with a 13 point lead is a great boost.
“The car was quick, but the ballast played a huge part in qualifying and race one, and hampered us when accelerating out of the corners.
“I always knew the Championship was going to go down to the wire. I’ve got stiff competition with Fabrizio [Giovanardi] and Jason [Plato] but hopefully I can go to Brands Hatch and win it for the team.”
Stephen Jelley said: “What a fantastic day. It was great to finally record my first BTCC win, but to do the double is an amazing feeling. WSR have done a great job, and the BMW has been a pleasure to drive all weekend.
“Rockingham has always been a special place for me as this was the scene of my first ever career victory in Formula Ford, and it’s given me another day that I will never forget.”
Anthony Reid said: “I was disappointed having qualified so far down the field but the car showed what pace it had in race one. Finishing 11th having started 18th was certainly encouraging.
“Obviously it was a shame not to have scored points here, and I think the ballast I have to carry in all races is one of the reasons for that. Progress is definitely being made, and hopefully I’ll end the season on a high note at Brands Hatch.”
WSR Team Principal Dick Bennetts said: “It was a great day for Stephen and he thoroughly deserved both his wins. He’s been quick all season and I’m sure there’s a lot more to come from him. In race two he again showed what a great team-player he is by letting Colin through to pick up another couple of valuable points.
“It’s getting rough out there, with Plato and Giovanardi resorting to some pretty desperate tactics to get past Colin. He’s a tough character though, and he showed this by coming back through after their attacks on him.
“The WSR prepared BMW 320si’s again ran 100% reliably which is a real credit to everyone at Team RAC. The team will be putting in a huge effort over the next two weeks to give the drivers their best chance at Brands Hatch.”
Kerry Gazzard, RAC sponsorship & PR consultant, said: “It was great to see Stephen at the top of the podium for the first time. You could see how much it meant to him, the team and the fans, who turned out in force once again.
“Everyone’s looking forward to the final round at Brands Hatch. Hopefully Colin can go on to win the overall Driver’s Championship and give everyone associated with Team RAC a day to remember.”
Team RAC currently leads the Independent Teams Championship with 316 points. Colin Turkington still leads the Drivers Championship on 249 points, whilst Stephen Jelley moves up to 6th with 132 points.
Team RAC is searching for the most loyal, passionate and dedicated fan in the BTCC. One lucky winner will receive a VIP hospitality package to the last round of the season at Brands Hatch on 4 October, courtesy of Team RAC. For more information, contact firstname.lastname@example.org
For further information please contact:
Steve Stammers / James Knott
0207 908 6439 / 0207 908 6459
Notes to editors:
The British Touring Car Championship (BTCC) was formed in 1958 and is Britain’s most popular motor racing spectacle. Its race season comprises ten events at top circuits across the UK. It is contested by professional racing drivers in competition versions of every day road cars, giving it tremendous public appeal. Some 325,000 watch the BTCC trackside each year. www.btcc.net
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HiQ (part of Goodyear Dunlop) became the BTCC's new title sponsor in 2008 in a new three-year agreement. It provides a fast-fit car care service at its 150 centres across the UK. In the next two years, that number will rise to 250 as HiQ embarks on revolutionising the fast-fit industry. It has already taken the lead by offering a unique online service www.hiqonline.co.uk for motorists to buy tyres and arrange a fitting appointment.