Mat Jackson claimed victory in the opening Dunlop MSA British Touring Car Championship race of the weekend at Donington Park, ahead of MG ace Josh Cook and a surging Tom Ingram in the Speedworks Motorsport Toyota Avensis.
Mat Jackson made a lightning start in the Ford Focus ST, immediately deposing the MG duo of Ashley Sutton and Josh Cook before turning right into the first corner at Redgate. Sutton dropped back into the clutches of Rob Collard in the BMW 125i M-Sport whilst his team-mate maintained second behind Jackson. The safety car was deployed at the end of the opening lap as Ollie Jackson headed for the gravel trap at turn one.
The notable winners from the opening exchanges were Tom Ingram and the BMW duo of Collard and Goff who demoted reigning champion Gordon Shedden down to seventh. The Team BMR duo of Colin Turkington and Jason Plato also improved on their starting slots to run 10th and 14th behind the safety car.
There were issues for Jake Hill, who dropped down to the rear of the field after a trip across the grass after running an impressive 9th following his fifth row start on the grid. After a trip to the pitlane and a new right rear tyre, he rejoined the fray on the fourth lap.
However, it was the left-rear that proved a problem for Martin Depper as it came loose and detached through Redgate on Lap 5, forcing the Eurotech Honda wide across the gravel. Depper attempted to rejoin the circuit before realising the extent of the problem and making a beeline back across the track to safety on the opposite side.
At the front, Jackson extended his advantage by a tenth of a second lap on lap, but the real fight was for the four positions immediately behind him on the road.
MG duo Cook and Sutton were virtually nose-to-bumper and had both Brands Hatch winner Tom Ingram and the fast-starting Collard in close company.
Things began to unravel for Sutton on lap eleven, with Ingram seizing third from the rookie into Redgate, before Collard then squeezed through under braking down the Craner Curves. Jack Goff further relegated the MG driver to 6th into Coppice, though the reigning Clio Cup champion put up a spirited fight in an attempt to reclaim the lost ground, but ultimately had to slot behind.
The race continued to get worse for the soft tyre-shod Halfords Yuasa Racing works Type R machines, with both Shedden and Matt Neal losing places to Jeff Smith and Arón Smith respectively, relegating the Honda drivers who were later passed by WSR’s Sam Tordoff and BMR’s Colin Turkington.
Sutton reclaimed fifth from Collard on lap fourteen in a similar move down the Craner Curves to the one that initially bested him, though the MG took to the outside of the series stalwart as opposed to the inside line to take the place.
With three laps to run there was a big accident between Dan Welch and former Intermarque champion Matt Simpson into Coppice, neccesitating another safety car period as debris littered the area surrounding the damaged cars. The incident occurred as a result of Welch taking to the grass heading through McLean corner, with Simpson unable to avoid the Proton Gen-2 as it came back across the circuit.
James Cole then completed the plethora of dramas as his Subaru Levorg caught fire heading down the main straight, forcing him to park up at the end of the pit lane and clamber swiftly out of the car. That brought out the red flags and brought the first contest of the weekend to a conclusion, with Mat Jackson victorious ahead of Josh Cook and Tom Ingram.
|1||7||Mat JACKSON||Motorbase Performance||Ford Focus||15||18:16.822||1:10.466||3|
|2||66||M||Josh COOK||MG Racing RCIB Insurance||MG6GT||15||1.86||1:10.624||2|
|3||80||Tom INGRAM||Speedworks Motorsport||Toyota Avensis||15||0.217||1:10.669||5|
|4||31||C||Jack GOFF||Team IHG Rewards Club||BMW 125i M Sport||15||6.717||1:10.586||8|
|5||116||M||Ashley SUTTON||MG Racing RCIB Insurance||MG6GT||15||0.355||1:10.758||1|
|6||100||C||Rob COLLARD||Team JCT600 with GardX||BMW 125i M Sport||15||1.175||1:10.506||6|
|7||55||Jeff SMITH||Eurotech Racing||Honda Civic Type R||15||4.483||1:11.021||12|
|8||40||Árón SMITH||BKR||Volkswagen CC||15||1.616||1:11.132||7|
|9||600||C||Sam TORDOFF||Team JCT600 with GardX||BMW 125i M Sport||15||1.567||1:10.851||21|
|10||4||M||Colin TURKINGTON||Subaru Team BMR||Subaru Levorg GT||15||1.599||1:11.373||11|
|11||52||M||Gordon SHEDDEN||Halfords Yuasa Racing||Honda Civic Type R||15||0.519||1:11.174||4|
|12||25||M||Matt NEAL||Halfords Yuasa Racing||Honda Civic Type R||15||0.757||1:11.288||9|
|13||33||Adam MORGAN||WIX Racing||Mercedes-Benz A-Class||15||0.256||1:11.437||14|
|14||77||Andrew JORDAN||Motorbase Performance||Ford Focus||15||0.975||1:11.322||25|
|15||53||Hunter ABBOTT||Power Maxed Racing||Chevrolet Cruze||15||3.659||1:11.426||13|
|16||16||Aiden MOFFAT||Laser Tools Racing||Mercedes-Benz A-Class||15||0.897||1:11.449||23|
|17||99||M||Jason PLATO||Subaru Team BMR||Subaru Levorg GT||15||5.773||1:11.658||18|
|18||11||Rob AUSTIN||Handy Motorsport||Toyota Avensis||15||1.256||1:11.177||15|
|19||12||Mike EPPS||RCIB Insurance Racing||Toyota Avensis||15||3.074||1:12.088||24|
|20||14||Alex MARTIN||Dextra Racing with Team Parker||Ford Focus||15||0.472||1:12.096||27|
|21||48||Ollie JACKSON||AmD Tuning||Audi S3||15||0.437||1:11.650||19|
|22||22||Chris SMILEY||TLC Racing||Toyota Avensis||15||5.197||1:12.107||28|
|23||38||Mark HOWARD||BKR||Volkswagen CC||15||3.095||1:12.149||30|
|24||84||Kelvin FLETCHER||Power Maxed Racing||Chevrolet Cruze||15||10.483||1:12.372||31|
|25||39||M||Warren SCOTT||Subaru Team BMR||Subaru Levorg GT||15||21.782||1:12.306||16|
|26||24||Jake HILL||RCIB Insurance Racing||Toyota Avensis||14||1 Lap||1:11.883||10|
|R||20||M||James COLE||Subaru Team BMR||Subaru Levorg GT||15||40.28||1:11.819||17|
|R||303||Matt SIMPSON||Speedworks Motorsport||Honda Civic Type R||13||2 Laps||1:11.359||22|
|R||17||Dan WELCH||Goodestone Racing||Proton Persona||13||2 Laps||1:11.600||20|
|R||95||Stewart LINES||Maximum Motorsport||Ford Focus||10||3 Laps||1:13.531||29|
|R||30||Martin DEPPER||Eurotech Racing||Honda Civic Type R||4||6 Laps||1:13.065||26|