By Simon Wright – Follow me on Twitter @Siwri88
Tom Ingram was in inspired form at Silverstone, taking two victories on the penultimate weekend of the 2019 KwikFit British Touring Car Championship.
The Toyota Corolla/Speedworks Motorsport combination showed some brilliant pace to land the first two victories of the day in a thrilling meeting where the weather played a significant part.
An inspired pit call under Safety Car conditions saw Jack Goff win the reverse grid race, ensuring a maiden victory for Team HARD in the championship.
Title contenders Colin Turkington, Andrew Jordan and Dan Cammish all had incident-filled races during the day with the reigning champion coming out on top.
Turkington takes a 16-point lead to the 2019 season finale which takes place in two weeks’ time at Brands Hatch.
Ingram Denies Plato
It was advantage Turkington after qualifying out of the title contenders. He was sixth, one place ahead of Cammish and eight places above Jordan.
However, the star of the show was Jason Plato. The former double champion dominated practice and took his first pole since Knockhill 2017. It was the 51st pole position of his career. Chris Smiley and Matt Neal completed the top three.
Plato made a brilliant start to charge in front into Copse. Fellow front row starter Smiley got a poor getaway and dropped to fifth, allowing Neal, Ingram and Tom Oliphant through.
Ingram though was flying. He got past Neal on the first lap and quickly closed down Plato. Towards the end of lap four, he forced himself alongside Plato exiting Luffield and pulled himself into the lead.
Ingram then disappeared into the distance and won commandingly by 4.3 seconds.
Plato still finished second for one of the best results of his consistent season. Smiley recovered from his difficult first lap to finish third but it was a tricky first race for the title contenders.
Carrying maximum ballast, Turkington was quickly swallowed up by the mid-pack and eventually, got spun around.
He dropped outside the top 20 but came back to get 14th and nick a couple of crucial points.
Cammish had a tough race too, struggling with the harder tyre.
He finished 11th. Jordan finished eighth on the road but received a post-race time penalty for pushing Tom Chilton wide on the approach to Luffield. He was relegated to 10th in the final classification.
The second race of the day started in dry conditions and finished in a heavy rain shower.
The race was actually stopped four laps before the scheduled distance due to the conditions.
There were no changes off the grid with Ingram leading Plato, Smiley, Josh Cook and Oliphant.
One man on a cavalier charge though was Turkington.
On option tyres and with no weight, he made quick work of the midfield and pulled off a couple of crucial passes on his main championship rivals, Cammish and Jordan.
As the rain started to fall, the drivers began to struggle on slick tyres.
Ingram and Plato had a collision at Brooklands which saw both drivers slide wide and that allowed Oliphant to take the lead.
Then, Adam Morgan ended up in the gravel trap at Becketts which saw the Safety Car deployed.
This then saw a clash between two of the title contenders.
Arguing who was in front at the point where the yellow flags came out, Cammish and Jordan ran side-by-side for several laps.
Then, there was some unnecessary contact caused by the Honda driver. Jordan was unimpressed and had to be restrained by Team Dynamics management when he wanted to confront Cammish about this risky driving.
Cammish was given a fine and three penalty points on his license for the collision but no time punishment.
When the race restarted, Oliphant ran wide at Copse and dropped out of victory contention, handing Ingram back the lead.
Then, the race was stopped before the end with the weather becoming more dangerous.
This gave Ingram the victory ahead of a decisive Turkington. Cammish finished third, Plato fourth and an angry Jordan back in eighth.
Reverse Grid Thriller
The reverse grid race saw Ash Sutton and Matt Simpson share the front row in a crazy and frantic battle.
Simpson briefly led but didn’t finish the opening lap. Contact with Jordan out of Brooklands sent him spinning into the Armco barriers.
It was Cook who inherited the lead on lap two but the Safety Car was deployed to clear away Simpson’s car.
The rain started to fall and both Jack Goff and Aiden Moffat rolled the dice.
Both pitted for wet tyres and it was an inspired decision. Others followed suit, some making the call far too late.
Subaru’s poor judgement saw Sutton end a lap down and complete another miserable weekend for the 2017 champion.
Turkington and Jordan were among those to change to wet tyres, whilst Cook and Cammish stayed on the slicks.
When the race resumed, it became clear that those who changed tyres were on the right rubber. Cook, Cammish and Jake Hill put on a brave fight but were all eventually overwhelmed.
The former two collided at Copse, putting Cook out with suspension damage and virtually torpedoed his faint title hopes. Cammish eventually fell back to 12th.
Goff pulled out a sizeable lead and aided by a spin for the chasing Moffat at Copse, he controlled the rest of the race supremely despite a fogged up windscreen.
He crossed the line six seconds in front to claim his first win of the season and a first-ever success for his team too.
Nice Buffer For Colin
Moffat was second with Neal third, ahead of Oliphant, Chilton, Plato, Turkington and Jordan. The entire final top 10 had made a tyre stop under the Safety Car, proving it was the right call to make.
The title goes down to the last meeting then for the 22nd successive year.
17 points cover the top three drivers with Cook holding a slim chance but needing some major dramas to remain realistically in the fight to become champion.
Turkington has a useful buffer of 16 points over Cammish, who overtook Jordan this weekend for second place in the standings.
However, the unpredictability of the BTCC means there is sure to be at least one more twist when the series arrives in Kent in a fortnight’s time.