Adam Morgan victorious in frenetic Rockingham opener

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.

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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.

Race result

POS NO CL DRIVER NAT ENTRANT CAR LAPS TIME BEST GD
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
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