Good evening, this is BTCS Raceday, brought to you from Brands Hatch Grand Prix circuit in Kent. The qualifying session yesterday got the inaugural season of the BTCS underway, and there will be a great sense of intrigue as to who will emerge from the first race weekend with the championship lead.
Gareth Eaves sits on pole position with Serge Bernard second, and with both drivers racing for the manufacturer Downton and Peugeot teams respectively, it looks entirely likely the manufacturer championship will be very close, and with Daniel Easter and Patrick Feischlenden driving independently run Mercedes and Peugeot cars very close behind on the grid, any one of the teams can be battling for overall honours throughout the day.
Each of the three races will be 15 laps in duration, with the possibility of up to three laps added on to make up for any activity on track due to the safety car.
Without further ado, let's begin the first round of the British Touring Car Series.
The grid for race one is as follows, as per the qualifying session yesterday:
Start: The first race of 2014 gets underway, and it’s a great start for the pole sitter Eaves, and Bernard pulls alongside with a great start in the Peugeot RCZ. Daniel Easter is right behind, and into turn one now… They touch! Easter clips the rear bumper of Serge Bernard, and the Peugeot works driver spins! He tries to power out of the gravel trap but it’s all in vain, he’s beached. Turn one and the French touring car star is out in his first race in Britain! Easter continues on, and he moves up into second place. The safety car is out to help the marshals collect the stricken car. Further behind Jean-Baptiste Dubourg gets a good start, and Sam Baromono seems to slip the clutch in his BMW, the rear-drive car not getting a good start at all!
Lap 3: The safety car pulls in, and the cars are back in action! The race distance has been increased to 17 laps to compensate for the hiatus in racing.
Lap 5: James Howell in the Monster Energy backed car is going well in 4th position, and a fast starting Dubourg is right behind. They both head onto the extremely fast Pilgrims Drop, and Howell squeezes, squeezes… Howell goes across the front of Dubourg! Howell careers into the wall, and his car is in pieces! Dubourg’s bumper is hanging off, but he’s still in the race!
Further back, Francisco Mendoza is struck by Bradley Downton and the Pizarro Laguna independent is spun round and beached in the gravel! Unfortunately, the safety car is back out on the track, but not before we see Robert Mathershaw stuck in the gravel at Paddock Hill, spinning out from last place.
Lap 6: It only takes one lap to clear the debris, so the safety car is back in, and the race will now last 18 laps.
Lap 7: Christodoulou is doing incredibly, he’s up into the points from 23rd!
At the front meanwhile Gareth Eaves is about a second and a half ahead of Easter in second, who is in a tight battle with Patrick Feischlenden for MT Racing. They head into Druids, and the German makes a beautiful move on Easter, taking 2nd place.
Lap 10: Paco Ramirez is going solidly in 15th position, but he’s looking ragged. And case in point, he loses it through Dingle Dell, and it’s a massive accident! He’s opened the door, and he’s out waving to the crowd who give him a round of applause, that’s great to see! Swift work from the marshals can’t avoid the safety car out for the third time.
Lap 12: With six laps remaining, the race restarts. Eaves scampers off again, Feischlenden fending off Easter. Dubourg has got up to 4th. Baromono in 13th runs onto the grass-crete at Paddock Hill and Downton is through like a rat up a drainpipe! Beautiful move from the team-owner-cum-driver!
Lap 16: Marcus Murphy and Pearl J. Cerrone are right alongside each other as they go along Westfields. Into Dingle Dell, something’s got to give… and it most certainly does! Murphy is tagged by Westwood, and the Seat spins! The Westwood continues, but Jacob Sral and Lucas Wilson go past the spinning Murphy. Jimmi Harrison is going through, but he misjudges the gap, and clatters into Murphy! Murphy gets going, but Harrison’s car is in the middle of the road minus the front left wheel. Dreadful luck! The race director throws the chequered flag two laps early, calling the race result.
Eaves takes the maiden victory of the BTCS, taking the win in emphatic fashion! Feischlenden takes second, whil Easter comes home in third place.
The final result is as follows:
So, in race one Gareth Eaves takes a commanding victory, and with it the championship lead at this early stage:
The Grid for race two is simply the result of the first race.
Start: It’s time for the second race of the Brands Hatch meeting. The revs are high, and the lights are on. It’s lights out and away we go! Gareth Eaves gets a poor start, spinning up his wheels, and into Paddock Hill Feischlenden is alongside. Downton makes a stunning start, hooking the car up perfectly to jump all the way up to 5th from the start, while Harry Westwood seems to follow him through the gap to get 6th. Into Druids now, and Feischlenden is through! In fourth and fifth is Dubourg and de la Fontaine, and de la Fontaine looks down the inside… no he doesn’t, he ploughs into the side of his team mate! Incredible, the two Lapierre Peugeots have had a heavy impact with each other, and there are wheels pointing in all directions there! They’ll make it round to the pitlane using the Indy loop, so no need for a safety car here.
Lap 2: Andrew Farina and Emma Wilson made big starts as well, taking 8 and 6 places in the first lap respectively.
Lap 5: Alfonso Ingram takes a look at Christodoulou into Westfield, but in such a fast corner that’s surely a bonkers move. Indeed it is! Ingram careers over the kerb and into the tyre wall, he’s well and truly out of this race. Christodoulou was lucky not to be collected, but he’s doing well up in 7th at the moment. The stricken Renault Laguna is well out of the firing line.
Lap 9: Guo Lang is in 14th place, and in a gap in the traffic. Into Druids, and spins! Beached in the gravel and race over for the Taiwanese.
Lap 12: Pearl J. Cerrone is ahead of Kenyon for 18th place, and the American looks to have a comfortable gap. Or not! Mark Kenyon totally misjudges the distance and barrels into the back of the Westwood. That’s a mess, I’m afraid the race director has scrambled the safety car.
Lap 13: SC back in, a single lap added. Race distance now 16 laps.
Lap 14: Serge Bernard is up into 12th, looking to salvage something from a terrible weekend so far. He’s slowing! It’s just got worse! He’s stopped by the side of the track, and the engine is smoking heavily! James Howell is right behind Emma Wilson in 10th, and into Druids attempts the cutback. Oh! He’s totally got it wrong, clipped Wilson and the suspension arm has gone straight through the bonnet! That’s the Downton out. Wilson continues unhindered.
Lap 15: Eaves runs wide from third place! Harry Westwood skips through into Druids, as does Bradley Downton! The factory Downton driver has well and truly done his teammate there! Downton has great drive, and into Graham Hill dispatches Westwood for the final podium place. Stellar driving from the lot of them!
Lap 16: Patrick Feischlenden takes the win, brilliant performance from the MT Racing driver to take another brilliant result, and with it the championship lead. Daniel Easter takes the Mercedes C-Class AMG to second, while Bradley Downton takes a brilliant third.
The full result is as follows:
With the Peugeot driver taking the victory and race one winner Eaves falling to fifth, the championship now looks like this:
Fifteenth is the last of the finishers, but also it gives the chance to select the number of positions reversed for race three at random. That honour falls to Francisco Mendoza of Pizarro Autosport. The single car team is doing really well with their Renault Laguna. Here we go, Francisco is selecting a number… and it’s 12! The top twelve will be reversed! The grid for race three is:
Start: The final race of the day is just five lights from beginning… And we’re away! No! Polesitter Simon Bourne has stalled off the line! Terrible, terrible luck for the Tassie Racing BMW driver! Sean McNamara has made a good start, passing Emma Wilson off the start. Guo Lang gets a lightning start from 26th, the Taiwanese driver ending up in 14th by the end of lap 1! Alfonso Ingram and Sam Cooper have made very good starts as well.
Lap 3: Alfonso Ingram is up the inside of Marcus Murphy at Druids, easily making the pass.
Lap 4: Sean McNamara sees a gap inside Andrew Farina, going very, very well indeed here.
Lap 6: Bradley Downton has made good progress, now up into 7th. Gareth Eaves and Harry Westwood are close in front, and into Graham Hill theres slight contact! Up through the back straight, into Hawthorn bend… Eaves is on the inside, and Westwood looks to have lost the place! Oh, Westwood turns in with no regard for the rear of Eaves car still there. Eaves goes straight on and into the tyre barrier, that car is not going anywhere fast. Westwood has to pull to the side of the track, he’s snapped his steering arm. Downton up to fifth now, with Emma Wilson right in front. Safety car out.
Lap 8: Safety Car in, McNamara in 2nd now looking to get past Jean-Michel Lazarac who inherited the lead after Bourne stalling. McNamara is on the inside in Druids, and he pushes the Frenchman wide! Farina through, and a charging Emma Wilson and Downton through too! Wilson is unsighted as Lazarac re-enters the track, Wilson swerves right, losing momentum. Downton scampers away, and the factory RCZ driver re-passes Wilson! Crazy stuff here! James Howell also pulls to the side and retires, it seems to be a suspension issue.
Lap 13: Sam Baromono is going nicely in 12th, with Francesco de Matteo in front. The Mercedes runs wide through Graham Hill! Is Baromono close enough to take advantage? Not really, but de Matteo gets a slide on, and Baromono is alongside… De Matteo hasn’t caught the car! Baromono is pitched in front of the Mercedes! Tassie Racing will be disappointed there! They’re both in the gravel, no chance of them getting out of there, but they’re not in a dangerous position either.
Lap 14: Lucas Wilson is on the entry to Druids, and Paco Ramirez goes inside! Spin! Lucas Wilson spins, and the track is blocked at the hairpin. Ramirez is stuck, and Mathershaw and Dubourg busy doing battle hit the Renault Laguna! Jimmi Harrison too! They were absorbed in their own battle, and they have both taken themselves out. Unsighted on the exit, they’ve been very unlucky there, though they maybe should have paid more attention to the yellow flags. Safety Car out.
Lap 15: There’s commotion in the Vinery Racing pit area. Mark Kenyon comes in! He was in a solid points paying spot in 12th, but he’s in the pits with a puncture late in the race. Terrible luck!
Lap 17: The safety car comes in, and Bradley Downton is right on the back of Andrew Farina. He dives inside into Dingle Dell… Somehow he makes it stick, very lucky move to take 2nd place. WTC Racing denied a 1-2 at the last!
Lap 18: Sean McNamara takes the win for Mercedes and WTC Racing! Team-mate Farina is third, denied by a last gasp move by driver/owner Bradley Downton. The full race result is as follows:
After another exciting race in the BTCS, the final race of the day, the championship looks like this:
The Independent's Trophy
Overall Team's Championship
Independent Team's Championship
So there we have it, after a hectic day of racing, we've completed the first round of the British Touring Car Series. Join us next time at Donington Park for round two!