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And Senna wins! Proctor and Vauxhall win in the BTCC at Brands

Sunday, April 08 2018

Senna Proctor stormed through the pack to win a classic Dunlop MSA British Touring Car Championship race at Brands Hatch this afternoon, after smart tyre selection in changing conditions. The Power Maxed TAG Racing driver returned the Vauxhall name to the top of the podium for the first time since its return to the championship last year. 

He was joined on the podium by Jake Hill and Ollie Jackson, as all three men claimed their maiden outright BTCC podium.

There was much uncertainty over whether wet or slick tyres would be the way to go as the cars lined up on the grid, but the majority of those towards the front of the field opted for the former, including race one winner Jack Goff in his WIX racing with Eurotech Honda Civic Type R.

It was a mixed opening to the race for the works BMWs, with Andrew Jordan launching straight from the third grid slot into the lead of what was his 300th race in the BTCC, whilst Colin Turkington failed to start from second on the grid after an issue on the warm up lap.

Behind Jordan's opening gambit, Tom Ingram (Speedworks Motorsport Toyota Avensis) overtook Goff for second place at the end of the lap, after getting an excellent run out of the last corner at Clark Curve. The safety car was deployed shortly afterwards for a second race in succession after Stephen Jelley beached his Team Parker Racing BMW in the Clearways gravel trap.

So, as the safety car circulated, Jordan led from Ingram, and Goff, with Tom Chilton (Team Shredded Wheat Racing with Gallagher Ford Focus RS) and reigning champion Ashley Sutton (Adrian Flux Subaru Racing Levorg GT) completing the top five.

Jordan led from Ingram when the race resumed, with Chilton the main mover as he produced a committed lunge on Goff to claim third position. At this point, the eventual podium finishers were still lying firmly in the midfield, as they attempted to maintain a good pace on slick tyres in difficult conditions.

Shortly afterwards, Ingram made his move for the lead. The Speedworks driver was all over Jordan for much of the lap, before producing another stellar run out of the final corner to lead the way across the start-finish line.

As the race entered its middle stages, drivers on slick tyres began to match the times of those on wets. At the same time, Goff began to reel those in front of him back in, moving first past Chilton, before regaining second place from Jordan just a couple of laps later.

With Ingram leading from Goff, Jordan began to drop a little further behind, and it was Sutton who took advantage to move up to third and enter the frame for victory.

Just as a three-way scrap between Ingram, Goff, and Sutton began to shape up, the advantage heavily shifted towards those running on slick rubber. Indeed, Aiden Moffat began to breeze past rivals in a straight line in his Mercedes A-Class, with his dramatic progress stifled only by a brief tank slapper.

As the leading group bunched increasingly closer together behind Ingram, the pursuit of those on dry tyres quickened significantly. As the field started the 21st lap, Ingram led from Goff and Sutton - by the time they entered Paddock Hill Bend the next time around, Goff was in the lead, but he had the slick shod Proctor and Moffat on his tail.

Proctor was the first to move on Goff, nosing his way alongside on the run towards Druids, only for Moffat to follow him through and take the lead as they ran three-wide into the slowest corner on the Kent circuit. Moffat was followed through by Proctor, with Jake Hill and Ollie Jackson close behind - both on slicks, and in pursuit of a maiden podium.

The top four began to circulate nose-to-tail in a tight train in the closing laps, with series returnee Tom Boardman hunting them down intently.  

Moffat's victory hopes took a hit - literally - when the leaders began to encounter lapped traffic. He ran wide behind Matt Neal at Druids and made contact with Proctor as he recovered, dropping down to an eventual fifth place finish.

From there, Proctor maintained his composure to claim his first win in the BTCC, and a first for Vauxhall since it returned to the series last year, after starting the race in 26th position. Hill claimed second place, with Jackson third and Boardman fourth.

Rob Austin finished sixth behind Moffat in the DUO Motorsport with HMS Racing Alfa Romeo, and will start this afternoon's final race from pole position, following the reverse grid draw.

Goff fared best of the race's original protagonists, finishing 10th, with Ingram and Sutton finishing 11th and 12th respectively, whilst Jordan and Chilton ended up 21st and 28th.

Result

1, Senna Proctor, Power Maxed TAG Racing, Vauxhall Astra, 27 laps
2, Jake Hill, Trade Price Cars with Brisky Racing, Volkswagen CC, +0.568s
3, Ollie Jackson, AmD with Cobra Exhausts, Audi S3, +1.761s
4, Tom Boardman, AmD with AutoAid/RCIB Insurance Racing, MG6, +2.393s
5, Aiden Moffat, Laster Tools Racing, Mercedes Benz A-Class, +3.348s
6, Rob Austin, DUO Motorsport with HMS Racing, Alfa Romeo Giulietta, +9.395s
7, Matt Simpson, Simpson Racing, Honda Civic Type R, +16.386s
8, Mike Bushell, Trade Price Cars with Brisky Racing, +17.145s
9, Rory Butcher, AmD with AutoAid/RCIB Insurance Racing, MG6, +17.770s
10, Jack Goff, WIX Racing with Eurotech, Honda Civic Type R, +22.213s

Photo: PSP Images