Dan Cammish showed his steel in a frenetic first round of the 2020 Kwik Fit British Touring Car Championship as he claimed victory, righting the wrongs of a disappointing conclusion to his campaign last year.
Colin Turkington got off to a great start from pole and led the field into Redgate for the first time as Cammish tried to go around the outside of Ashley Sutton before yielding to the 2017 Champion and slotting into third as the field went down Hollywood for the first time of asking.
There was drama early on for Josh Cook as he tried to swoop around the outside of a few cars as the field went into McLeans, but Jake Hill tagged the rear right corner of the BTC Racing Honda Civic Type-R and sent Cook sliding into the gravel. Cook managed to continue but Hill retired with an issue.
Meanwhile, at the front, Turkington was struggling to get his tyres up to temperature and was coming under increasing pressure from Sutton’s Infiniti Q50. He tried around the outside, and inside, but couldn’t find the gap he needed to make the move.
After a couple of frustrating laps, Sutton got a great run coming out of the Old Harpin and went around the outside of Turkington as the pair went through Schwantz Curve which meant he had that decisive inside line for the right-hander of McLeans. As Turkington tried to turn in, he tagged the rear left corner of Sutton and the pair went slightly wide which allowed Cammish to take advantage and slide his Halfords Yuasa Racing Honda Civic Type-R up the inside of both of them.
Sutton tried to squeeze Cammish to the inside straight away as they went into Coppice. However, because of the tighter apex from both, they had slower speed going through the corner than the cars behind leading to a concertina effect with Sutton spinning out as a result after getting tagged by Turkington who was in-turn hit slightly by Tom Ingram.
In all the chaos, it was Rory Butcher who slipped through into third with Cammish escaping with the lead and Turkington settling into second.
Cammish managed to open up a few car lengths lead and looked comfortable out in front until the safety car came out four laps from the end after Nic Hamilton looked like he had a brake failure at the final chicane. At the same time, Senna Proctor’s turbo went on his new Hyundai, forcing him into early retirement.
At the restart, Cammish managed the gap well to win the first race of the season with Turkington closely behind in second and Butcher finishing third in a terrific debut for the new Motorbase Performance Ford Focus ST.
“What a way to start – that’s what you call a bounce-back!” beamed Cammish after the race. “I always knew Ash (Ashley Sutton) would be quite aggressive with Colin – I was banking on it to be fair, and when he made his move, I made mine as well.
“It was an opportunistic move, but when he went wide, I just let off the brakes and drove into the gap and then he tried to squeeze me off, but I wasn’t having any of it. We had a few issues, but once I figured it out I had it all covered off. I nearly dropped it at the Old Hairpin, but I managed to gather it up and bring it home to the end.”
Second-placed Turkington admitted he was frustrated but is already looking at the bigger picture and the possibility of a fifth BTCC title.
“It’s frustrating, we would have liked to have got the win, but the priority has to be to get three good points finishes,” he said. “As in previous years, it’s difficult to win them all, but it’s a fantastic result for me and Team BMW. I got a point for pole and for leading a lap and anytime you finish on the podium in the BTCC, it’s an achievement.”
Speaking about the chaotic opening few laps, Turkington admitted: “I was fortunate to come out of it all still in second, it was a frantic opening few laps. We had really good pace again, but just couldn’t get the car hooked up through the final chicane, as there was so much dirt on the track there – it didn’t seem to hamper the front-wheel drive cars too much, but I’m happy with P2.”
Butcher said: “We wanted more from the car – or from me in Qualifying yesterday – I didn’t show my full pace so I was determined to move forward today. I made up a few places in the first few laps, but the guys at the front were so quick, so when we get into third, I just wanted to bring the car home. It’s a fantastic debut for it.”
Ingram finished fourth after going up the inside of Tom Oliphant at Redgate which also allowed Matt Neal through into fifth with Oliphant dropping down to sixth.
Sam Osborne finished a respectable seventh with Chris Smiley eighth for Excelr8. Stephen Jelley came home in ninth after a chaotic race in the midfield with Tom Chilton finishing in 10th, battling his way back from a lowly qualifying position of 16th.
Bobby Thompson finished in 11th after a superb battle with his GKR Trade Price Cars Racing teammate James Gornall.
Adam Morgan dropped two places from where he qualified, finishing in 12th with Cook 13th after his early drama’s and Sutton battling his way back to 14th after spinning when battling for the lead. His teammate Aiden Moffat cliched the final points-paying position in 15th.
Header image by BTCC.
By Jordan Hollands.