Reigning British Touring Car Champion Colin Turkington dominated to secure his first win of the campaign in the second race of the day at Donington.
He got off to the better start and went around the outside of Dan Cammish as the field hurtled towards Redgate for the first time. Butcher settled into third as from further back, Stephen Jelley also made up a few places to sixth at the end of lap one.
Butcher moved past Cammish and up to second after getting a good run-out of Coppice after a couple of frustrating laps. Just a lap later, Ingram and Oliphant made their move, shipping Cammish down the order to fifth.
Sutton was beginning his fight-back after starting in 14th and was already towards the back end of the top-10 as the race entered its half-way stage.
At the front though, Turkington had a three-second gap to Butcher in second as the safety car came out to recover the stranded Nic Hamilton car after he went off at Coppice.
The restart saw Sutton continue to move forward as he successfully pulled off the same move, he attempted on Turkington in the first race, this time on Jelley for seventh place. The 2017 Champion was showing great pace and was the fastest man on the circuit.
He then closed up on Matt Neal and perfected the cut-back as the pair exited Coppice, moving into sixth place. He then crept up onto the back of the maximum-ballast Cammish and went up the inside of him as the Halfords Yuasa Racing man ran wide coming out of McLeans.
Meanwhile, Tom Oliphant managed to get past Ingram and move into the podium places, but couldn’t quite mount a meaningful attack on Butcher who hanged on for second.
There was no stopping Turkington though as he took his first race win of the season.
After the race, Turkington said: “It feels great to be able to stand on the top step of the podium after all our preparation. It was a great result for the team too, with a one-three finish. My race was made at the start, I knew I’d probably get a better start (than Cammish) and also knew that’s where I’d have to get the job done. I just managed to get in front of Dan, he got a good start as well, but I just managed to get to Redgate first.
“Once I hit the front, the car was electric and it actually felt better with a little bit of weight in it – it just settled everything down, so I’m really happy to get my first win of the season. We really focused on maximising the performance of the car with weight on-board in pre-season testing, as you need to be quick to maximise your results, like we have done today.”
Second-placed Butcher took another podium finish for the new Ford Focus ST and admits him and the team are still learning new things about it with every session.
“You just don’t know how the car’s going to react with nearly maximum ballast,” Butcher explained. “We did do some testing with ballast pre-season, but with your competition out there with you, it’s almost a bit of an unknown. We struggled a bit at the end, but overall, I’m really pleased – we’re the first front-wheel drive home and we’ve bagged ourselves another podium with the new ST.
“We’re constantly learning new stuff about the car and developing it every session – we’re just pushing it as hard as we can and sometimes, we get it wrong, but we’ve made good progress already this weekend. We started with a P13 in free practice one and have gradually worked our way up to the podium.”
Oliphant admitted: “I’m really pleased with that. After the start, we got boxed out a bit and we stayed in P6 I think it was, but I managed to overtake the guys in front and then I saw that Tom (Ingram) was struggling with his front-left, so I thought I might have a chance. I didn’t quite have enough to get Rory, but it was a really enjoyable race.”
Ingram grabbed another fourth place with Sutton fifth after his tremendous fight back. Cammish struggled home in sixth with maximum ballast whilst teammate Neal coming home just behind in seventh.
Adam Morgan finished eighth, Jelley was ninth with Cook rounding out the top-10.
Ollie Jackson was 11th with Chris Smiley 12th – who will start race three from pole position.
Tom Chilton was 13th with Michael Crees securing his first points of the season in 14th whilst Carl Boardley finished in 15th to get his and Team HARD’s first points of the season.
Header image from BTCC.
By Jordan Hollands.