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Árón Smith wins thrilling final race at Rockingham

Árón Smith scored BKR’s first win in the British Touring Car Championship in the final race at Rockingham, in a thrilling race that came down to a three-lap sprint at the end.

Smith had benefited from the reverse-grid pole to start the race at the very front, and the Irishman was very much in control in the first half of the race, as Matt Neal was unable to get past in the first few corners.

Half-way through the race Neal, who had dropped to over three seconds behind Smith, realised that he didn’t have the pace to challenge for the win and he allowed Honda team-mate Gordon Shedden into second. The Scot had earlier made his way up to sixth by the end of the opening lap and he made up a position each lap until the halfway stage.

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The safety car came out for a second time after lap eight when MG’s Ashley Sutton punted Power Maxed Racing’s Dave Newsham into the Tarzan hairpin gravel trap, wiping out the comfortable lead which Smith had built up.

Meanwhile, Subaru Team BMR’s Colin Turkington had been steadily charging through the field from 15th on the grid, and was in seventh when the second safety car period ended. The Northern Irishman then made his way up to third before the final few laps, when a third safety car was called due to Warren Scott’s Subaru stopping on the track at the exit of Turn 1.

It set up a spectacular final three laps, with Smith defending from Shedden, who in turn had to defend from a charging Turkington. In the end Smith prevailed, to score his first win since Snetterton in 2014, ahead of Shedden and Turkington.

Neal took fourth, ahead of Motorbase Performance’s Mat Jackson in fifth, who had never been out of the top five throughout the race.

WSR’s Rob Collard took sixth and with it ensured he remained in championship contention, as his team-mate Sam Tordoff finished outside the points in 16th in a race where he was forced to run the unfavourable harder tyre.

WIX Racing’s Adam Morgan was seventh, ahead of Team HARD’s Jake Hill in eighth, who scored a third top ten finish of the season in his Toyota Avensis.

Aiden Moffat made it two Mercedes in the top ten with ninth, whilst Subaru’s Jason Plato completed the top ten after a determined drive from 27th on the grid.

Jack Goff and Dan Welch were early retirements on the opening lap, the former having been clouted by BKR’s Mark Howard at Yentwood. The incident required the first of the safety car periods in order to recover Goff’s BMW.

Howard, who was also hit with a drive-through penalty for a jump start, later retired when he went off into the gravel at the Tarzan Hairpin.

Speedworks Motorsport’s Tom Ingram also retired from the race after 15 laps whilst running in ninth when he picked up suspension damage on his Toyota.

The result means Tordoff (258 points) only leads Neal (253) by five points in the drivers’ championship standings, with Shedden (237) 21 points adrift.

Race result

1 40 Árón SMITH BKR Volkswagen CC 19 29:49.905 1:23.729 1
2 52 M Gordon SHEDDEN Halfords Yuasa Racing Honda Civic Type R 19 0.400 1:23.734 10
3 4 M Colin TURKINGTON Silverline Subaru BMR Racing Subaru Levorg GT 19 0.572 1:24.357 15
4 25 M Matt NEAL Halfords Yuasa Racing Honda Civic Type R 19 3.491 1:24.264 2
5 7 Mat JACKSON Motorbase Performance Ford Focus 19 4.519 1:24.548 4
6 100 C Rob COLLARD Team JCT600 with GardX BMW 125i M Sport 19 4.936 1:24.423 5
7 33 Adam MORGAN WIX Racing Mercedes-Benz A-Class 19 5.686 1:25.142 8
8 24 Jake HILL RCIB Insurance Racing Toyota Avensis 19 6.227 1:25.205 16
9 16 Aiden MOFFAT Laser Tools Racing Mercedes-Benz A-Class 19 10.578 1:25.290 9
10 99 M Jason PLATO Silverline Subaru BMR Racing Subaru Levorg GT 19 10.899 1:24.721 27
11 48 Ollie JACKSON AmD Tuning Audi S3 19 11.358 1:24.973 13
12 77 Andrew JORDAN Motorbase Performance Ford Focus 19 11.69 1:26.117 6
13 55 Jeff SMITH Eurotech Racing Honda Civic Type R 19 12.611 1:24.915 31
14 53 Hunter ABBOTT Power Maxed Racing Chevrolet Cruze 19 12.913 1:25.274 21
15 66 M Josh COOK MG Racing RCIB Insurance MG6GT 19 13.478 1:25.186 24
16 600 C Sam TORDOFF Team JCT600 with GardX BMW 125i M Sport 19 14.466 1:25.982 7
17 14 Alex MARTIN Dextra Racing with Team Parker Ford Focus 19 14.924 1:25.046 18
18 20 M James COLE Silverline Subaru BMR Racing Subaru Levorg GT 19 18.088 1:24.830 12
19 116 M Ashley SUTTON MG Racing RCIB Insurance MG6GT 19 18.805 1:25.146 3
20 303 Matt SIMPSON Speedworks Motorsport Honda Civic Type R 19 19.035 1:24.377 30
21 30 Martin DEPPER Eurotech Racing Honda Civic Type R 19 19.879 1:25.608 26
22 95 Stewart LINES Maximum Motorsport Ford Focus 19 20.159 1:26.149 17
23 12 Mike EPPS RCIB Insurance Racing Toyota Avensis 19 21.202 1:25.140 20
R 80 Tom INGRAM Speedworks Motorsport Toyota Avensis 15 4 Laps 1:23.871 28
R 39 M Warren SCOTT Silverline Subaru BMR Racing Subaru Levorg GT 13 6 Laps 1:25.291 22
R 11 Rob AUSTIN Handy Motorsport Toyota Avensis 12 7 Laps 1:24.594 14
R 38 Mark HOWARD BKR Volkswagen CC 11 8 Laps 1:26.266 19
R 71 David NEWSHAM Power Maxed Racing Chevrolet Cruze 7 12 Laps 1:25.118 11
R 34 Tony GILHAM TLC Racing Toyota Avensis 4 15 Laps 1:38.505 25
R 17 Dan WELCH Goodestone Racing Proton Persona 1 18 Laps N/A 29
R 31 C Jack GOFF Team IHG Rewards Club BMW 125i M Sport 0 DNF N/A 23

Complete race results

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