Adam Morgan resisted early pressure and took full advantage of a thrilling scrap behind to extend his advantage and win the opening British Touring Car Championship race at Rockingham.
Morgan made a level start in the Mercedes A-Class with Sam Tordoff’s Ford Focus RS, before the dynamic of the top five was re-shaped when Tordoff and the fast-starting Dan Lloyd were pitched around at Deene Hairpin by Dan Cammish and Andrew Jordan respectively.
Jordan then collided with the stationary Tordoff – as did Matt Neal – but only the GardX Protection-backed racer was unable to continue.
That left Morgan’s Ciceley-run machine at the head of the field with Tordoff’s team mate Tom Chilton, Cammish and defending Champion Ash Sutton’s Subaru Levorg GT for company with the safety car deployed.
Early spots of rain threatened to add another factor into the mix, but only Brett Smith’s Eurotech Honda chanced his arm on a tyre swap. It didn’t pay off; the reigning MINI Challenge JCW Champion going a lap down shortly after with a deficit of around 10 seconds on every tour of the 1.94 mile circuit.
Back at the front, the constant dice between Chilton, Sutton and Cammish allowed Morgan to build up the three-second advantage he would hold to the chequered flag – his third win of 2018 – and a brave lunge from Sutton’s Subaru earned him the runner-up spot at Tarzan.
Chilton duly completed the rostrum, with Chris Smiley snatching fourth on the line from Cammish in a near dead-heat.
It had been going oh-so-well for championship leader Tom Ingram after an early move put him ahead of main title rival Colin Turkington’s BMW 125i M Sport, but a technical problem on the final lap rendered him a non-finisher.
The Northern Irishman would finish seventh behind Mike Bushell’s Volkswagen CC, and in the process re-takes the standings lead by three points from the Speedworks Motorsport racer.
Aiden Moffat claimed eighth in the Laser Tools-run Mercedes, with AmD’s Rory Butcher and Matt Simpson rounding out the top ten.
Rob Austin recovered well to claim eleventh ahead of Senna Proctor, though the latter’s Power Maxed Racing team mate Josh Cook’s title hopes were dealt a minor blow after a retirement with smoke emitting from the back of the Vauxhall Astra.
Jack Goff, Stephen Jelley and Jordan completed the points finishers.
Ricky Collard put in a composed drive in his ballast-laden BMW in place of father Rob to record 17th on his BTCC debut, fending off Diamond Double winner Neal.
Jason Plato’s frustrations continued after contact with Smiley on the restart sent him over the grass on the inside of Pif Paf and he would only finish 25th.
The action continues at Rockingham with the second race of the weekend at 14:25 BST.
|1||33||Adam MORGAN||MAC Tools with Ciceley Motorsport||Mercedes-Benz A-Class||18||27:06.372||1:25.181||1|
|2||1||M||Ashley SUTTON||Adrian Flux Subaru Racing||Subaru Levorg GT||18||3.017||1:24.938||10|
|3||3||Tom CHILTON||Team Shredded Wheat Racing with Gallagher||Ford Focus RS||18||7.031||1:25.266||7|
|4||22||Chris SMILEY||BTC Norlin Racing||Honda Civic Type R||18||7.293||1:25.327||6|
|5||27||M||Dan CAMMISH||Halfords Yuasa Racing||Honda Civic Type R||18||7.352||1:25.165||3|
|6||21||Mike BUSHELL||Trade Price Cars with Brisky Racing||Volkswagen CC||18||8.830||1:25.199||4|
|7||2||M||Colin TURKINGTON||Team BMW||BMW 125i M Sport||18||9.459||1:25.224||12|
|8||16||Aiden MOFFAT||Laser Tools Racing||Mercedes-Benz A-Class||18||11.934||1:25.233||15|
|9||6||Rory BUTCHER||AmD with AutoAid / RCIB Insurance Racing||MG 6||18||13.547||1:25.305||20|
|10||303||Matt SIMPSON||Simpson Racing||Honda Civic Type R||18||14.306||1:25.591||14|
|11||11||Rob AUSTIN||DUO Motorsport with HMS Racing||Alfa Romeo Giulietta||18||16.028||1:25.626||24|
|12||18||M||Senna PROCTOR||Power Maxed TAG Racing||Vauxhall Astra||18||16.305||1:25.498||17|
|13||31||Jack GOFF||WIX Racing with Eurotech||Honda Civic Type R||18||16.784||1:25.342||23|
|14||60||Stephen JELLEY||Team Parker Racing||BMW 125i M Sport||18||22.370||1:25.309||28|
|15||77||M||Andrew JORDAN||BMW Pirtek Racing||BMW 125i M Sport||18||23.359||1:25.301||11|
|16||48||Ollie JACKSON||AmD with Cobra Exhausts||Audi S3||18||27.063||1:25.686||19|
|17||55||M||Ricky COLLARD||Team BMW||BMW 125i M Sport||18||27.339||1:25.024||26|
|18||25||M||Matt NEAL||Halfords Yuasa Racing||Honda Civic Type R||18||29.702||1:24.943||29|
|19||20||James COLE||Team Shredded Wheat Racing with Gallagher||Ford Focus RS||18||30.304||1:25.577||25|
|20||44||Michael CAINE||Team HARD. with Trade Price Cars||Volkswagen CC||18||30.727||1:24.932||27|
|21||26||Daniel LLOYD||BTC Norlin Racing||Honda Civic Type R||18||31.490||1:25.384||5|
|22||41||Glynn GEDDIE||AmD with AutoAid / RCIB Insurance Racing||MG 6||18||39.491||1:26.305||30|
|23||99||M||Jason PLATO||Adrian Flux Subaru Racing||Subaru Levorg GT||18||40.062||1:26.143||9|
|24||19||Bobby THOMPSON||Team HARD. with Trade Price Cars||Volkswagen CC||17||+ 1 LAP||1:25.390||18|
|25||15||Tom OLIPHANT||Ciceley Motorsport||Mercedes-Benz A-Class||17||+ 1 LAP||1:25.164||22|
|26||39||Brett SMITH||WIX Racing with Eurotech||Honda Civic Type R||16||+ 2 LAPS||1:33.389||8|
|R||80||Tom INGRAM||Speedworks Motorsport||Toyota Avensis||17||DNF||1:25.231||13|
|R||66||M||Josh COOK||Power Maxed TAG Racing||Vauxhall Astra||10||DNF||1:24.747||21|
|R||600||Sam TORDOFF||Team GardX Racing with Motorbase||Ford Focus RS||1||DNF||N/A||2|
|R||23||Sam SMELT||AmD with Cobra Exhausts||Audi S3||0||DNF||N/A||16|
|R||43||Ollie PIDGLEY||Trade Price Cars with Brisky Racing||Volkswagen CC||0||DNF||N/A||31|