Restart Racing’s Chris Smiley and Area Motorsport’s Jessica Hawkins shared the victories in the TCR UK season opener at Oulton Park on Easter Monday, as the series boasted its biggest grids to-date.
An impressive field of 25 cars entered for the first event of the year in Cheshire, although Hugo Cook would fail to take the start of either race in his Audi due to technical issues.
In qualifying, Northern Irishman Smiley put his Honda on pole position by just over two tenths of a second from the Volkswagen Golf of Isaac Smith.
Smiley is making his début in the series this year after having previously raced full-time in the BTCC for the past five years.
At the start of race one, Smiley came under early pressure from Smith but was able to eke out a comfortable margin, as Race Car Consultants’ Smith came under increasing pressure from the chasing Hyundai of Max Hart in third.
Smith held out for over half of the race, but on lap nine Jamsport Racing’s Hart got a better run out of Old Hall corner and catapulted into second into the first corner, although Smith did try to fight back.
After the change of position, however, Hart could do nothing to catch and prevent Smiley claiming a first win in his maiden race in the series.
Irishman Hart, now in his third year in the series, claimed second, with Smith completing the podium.
Area Motorsport’s Bruce Winfield stole fourth from Essex & Kent Motorsport’s Lewis Kent on the penultimate lap, when Kent put his Hyundai Veloster slightly wide at Island corner and gave Winfield a better run in his CUPRA.
Kent was fifth, in what is the first outing for the Veloster N outside of Asia or North America.
Power Maxed Racing’s Jac Constable was sixth in his CUPRA, ahead of team-mate Callum Newsham in seventh.
One of the most exciting battles of the race came as a result of the JamSport Subaru of Ant Whorton-Eales holding up the field in eighth early on.
On lap four, Adam Shepherd passed Hawkins’ CUPRA going into the final corner after Whorton-Eales made a poor exit ahead, and the three diced closely for two laps, with Shepherd’s Hyundai emerging in front two laps later, quickly followed by Hawkins with a door-banging move into the Knickerbrook chicane.
Shephewrd later lost power steering and went off the road, dropping him out of the top ten.
Jack Depper then pressured Whorton-Eales before the Subaru retired after eight laps, with Depper ultimately claiming eighth in the race ahead of Hawkins and her team-mate Jamie Tonks.
Andy Wilmot retired from the race after ten laps when he clipped a tyre stack exiting the Knickerbrook chicane and damaged the front-right corner of his car.
Race one result
|1||22||Chris SMILEY||Restart Racing||Honda Civic Type-R FK8 TCR||15||26:06.182||1:42.714||1|
|2||101||Max HART||Jamsport Racing||Hyundai i30 N TCR||15||1.526||1:43.129||4|
|3||123||Isaac SMITH||Race Car Consultants||Volkswagen Golf GTi TCR||15||4.654||1:43.231||2|
|4||37||Bruce WINFIELD||Area Motorsport||CUPRA TCR||15||7.316||1:43.179||3|
|5||1||Lewis KENT||Essex & Kent Motorsport||Hyundai Veloster N TCR||15||8.848||1:43.735||5|
|6||257||Jac CONSTABLE||Power Maxed Racing||CUPRA TCR||15||9.121||1:43.328||11|
|7||16||Callum NEWSHAM||Power Maxed Racing||CUPRA TCR||15||12.032||1:43.673||8|
|8||33||Jack DEPPER||Capture Motorsport||Volkswagen Golf GTi TCR||15||32.864||1:44.017||14|
|9||21||Jessica HAWKINS||Area Motorsport with FASTR||CUPRA TCR||15||35.876||1:44.518||9|
|10||74||Jamie TONKS||Area Motorsport with FASTR||CUPRA TCR||15||36.972||1:44.878||15|
|11||31||Matthew WILSON||JWB Motorsport||CUPRA Leon Competición TCR||15||39.091||1:44.244||17|
|12||117||Adam SHEPHERD||Jamsport Racing with Shepherd Motors||Hyundai i30 N TCR||15||48.840||1:43.632||6|
|13||50||Darelle WILSON||DW Racing||Vauxhall Astra TCR||15||50.690||1:45.398||19|
|14||27||Scott SUMPTON||Essex & Kent Motorsport||Hyundai i30 N TCR||15||53.437||1:45.611||18|
|15||72||Russell JOYCE||Power Maxed Racing with Joyce Design||CUPRA TCR||15||54.930||1:45.915||20|
|16||35||Steve GALES||Playerlands||Audi RS3 LMS TCR||15||1:42.811||1:47.548||22|
|17||40||Simon TOMLINSON||Jamsport Racing||CUPRA TCR||14||+ 1 LAP||1:48.785||23|
|18||47||Kieran GRIFFIN||JWB Motorsport||Volkswagen Golf GTi TCR||14||+ 1 LAP||1:47.397||21|
|19||52||Chris WALLIS||Power Maxed Racing||Hyundai i30 N TCR||14||+ 1 LAP||1:51.112||24|
|R||210||Andy WILMOT||Jamsport Racing||Hyundai i30 N TCR||10||DNF||1:44.825||16|
|R||11||Ant WHORTON-EALES||Jamsport Racing||Subaru WRX STi TCR||8||DNF||1:44.987||13|
|R||5||Bradley KENT||Essex & Kent Motorsport||Hyundai i30 N TCR||2||DNF||1:58.118||10|
|R||94||Rob BUTLER||JWB Motorsport with Maximum Networks||Volkswagen Golf GTi TCR||0||DNF||N/A||7|
|R||17||Bradley HUTCHINSON||BOND-IT with MPHR||Audi RS3 LMS TCR||0||DNF||N/A||12|
|NS||29||Hugo COOK||Hugo Cook||Audi RS3 LMS TCR||–||DNS||N/A||25|
Tonks claimed the reverse-grid pole for race two, with team-mate Hawkins alongside.
Hawkins immediately claimed the lead before the first corner when the lights went out, with Tonks dropping to third as Constable claimed second around the outside line.
Tonks then fell back to sixth over the opening lap, but the safety car was called upon due to an accident where Kieran Griffin and Andy Wilmot squeezed Steve Gales on the startline, pitching Griffin and Wilmot into each other and ending with Griffin in the barriers.
Racing resumed on lap four with Hawkins making a good getaway, but Tonks would drop down to 18th when he went wide at Cascades, allowing Smiley into sixth.
Another safety car period came at the end of lap five when Gales was hit by Wilmot at the final corner and turned into the gravel, ending both driver’s races.
At the restart on lap seven, Constable in second made a poor restart, possibly hampered by a technical issue which saw him stop further around the lap.
That saw Hawkins enjoy a huge margin, as Hart assumed second with Smith following in third.
It took just two laps for Hart to cut Hawkin’s two-second lead to nothing, but try as he might the Hyundai driver could not find a way through, as Hawkins went on to claim her first TCR win in her first weekend in the series.
For Hart, it was another second-place finish, with Newsham completing the podium after he passed Smith heading into the final corner three laps from the end.
Smith was thus fourth, ahead of Smiley in fifth and Lewis Kent in sixth.
The next TCR UK event takes place at Donington Park on 28 – 29 May.
Race two result
|1||21||Jessica HAWKINS||Area Motorsport with FASTR||CUPRA TCR||13||26:11.834||1:43.573||2|
|2||101||Max HART||Jamsport Racing||Hyundai i30 N TCR||13||0.261||1:42.840||9|
|3||16||Callum NEWSHAM||Power Maxed Racing||CUPRA TCR||13||5.699||1:43.799||4|
|4||123||Isaac SMITH||Race Car Consultants||Volkswagen Golf GTi TCR||13||7.126||1:43.859||8|
|5||22||Chris SMILEY||Restart Racing||Honda Civic Type-R FK8 TCR||13||7.288||1:43.514||10|
|6||1||Lewis KENT||Essex & Kent Motorsport||Hyundai Veloster N TCR||13||7.906||1:43.543||6|
|7||33||Jack DEPPER||Capture Motorsport||Volkswagen Golf GTi TCR||13||10.814||1:44.228||3|
|8||117||Adam SHEPHERD||Jamsport Racing with Shepherd Motors||Hyundai i30 N TCR||13||12.547||1:43.849||12|
|9||17||Bradley HUTCHINSON||BOND-IT with MPHR||Audi RS3 LMS TCR||13||16.874||1:44.950||24|
|10||31||Matthew WILSON||JWB Motorsport||CUPRA Leon Competición TCR||13||17.818||1:44.993||11|
|11||72||Russell JOYCE||Power Maxed Racing with Joyce Design||CUPRA TCR||13||21.030||1:45.103||15|
|12||27||Scott SUMPTON||Essex & Kent Motorsport||Hyundai i30 N TCR||13||21.307||1:45.043||14|
|13||74||Jamie TONKS||Area Motorsport with FASTR||CUPRA TCR||13||21.863||1:44.946||1|
|14||11||Ant WHORTON-EALES||Jamsport Racing||Subaru WRX STi TCR||13||24.177||1:45.262||21|
|15||37||Bruce WINFIELD||Area Motorsport||CUPRA TCR||13||30.506||1:43.858||7|
|16||40||Simon TOMLINSON||Jamsport Racing||CUPRA TCR||13||45.368||1:48.303||17|
|17||52||Chris WALLIS||Power Maxed Racing||Hyundai i30 N TCR||13||48.538||1:48.061||19|
|18||35||Steve GALES||Playerlands||Audi RS3 LMS TCR||12||+ 1 LAP||1:48.333||16|
|R||50||Darelle WILSON||DW Racing||Vauxhall Astra TCR||10||DNF||1:45.366||13|
|R||94||Rob BUTLER||JWB Motorsport with Maximum Networks||Volkswagen Golf GTi TCR||10||DNF||1:45.022||23|
|R||257||Jac CONSTABLE||Power Maxed Racing||CUPRA TCR||6||DNF||1:44.544||5|
|R||210||Andy WILMOT||Jamsport Racing||Hyundai i30 N TCR||4||DNF||2:33.827||20|
|R||47||Kieran GRIFFIN||JWB Motorsport||Volkswagen Golf GTi TCR||0||DNF||N/A||18|
|R||5||Bradley KENT||Essex & Kent Motorsport||Hyundai i30 N TCR||0||DNF||N/A||22|
|NS||29||Hugo COOK||Hugo Cook||Audi RS3 LMS TCR||–||DNS||N/A||–|