Rob Collard won the opening first race of the BTCC season at Brands Hatch today, after teammate and pole man Andy Priaulx ran into tyre problems late into the race and had to conceive a number of positions, including those held by rivals Team BMR whose drivers Aron Smith and Jason Plato finished in second and third place respectively.
The race started rather tidy for the BTCC folk, with Collard hooking up a brilliant start to get straight into third by the time they reached the first corner. Hunter Abbott meanwhile lost a lot of ground after running wide into Druids, with Matt Neal and Sam Tordoff coming to blows through Clearways which made the WSR BMW half spin and cause a concertina, which prompted a half-spin from Dave Newsham as he avoided the antics further up the road.
Simon Belcher meanwhile dropped own to 21st from 18th, with Abbott fighting Tordoff to P14 after his earlier excursion. They later swapped positions again on lap eight, before we saw Tordoff pass Adam Morgan for P12 later on after the Mercedes AMG came to blows with Tom Ingram’s Honda Civic coming in Druids.
By that point we saw the drama unfold at the front of the field, with Priaulx’s worn soft tyres running him out of grip to the tune of six tenths of a second, putting him into the firing line of teammate Collard. Once the two were nose to tail, Collard was able to make a move coming out of Clearways into Clark Curve, which also opened up the door to the two BMR’s of Smith and Plato into turn one.
Priaulx dropped further back into P7, whilst Adam Morgan took P11 from Rob Austin, who dropped further back to P14 with teammate Hunter Abbott also dropping down to P18 on the final lap. But it was Collard, Smith, Plato, Goff, Turkington, Shedden, Jordan, Neal, Priaulx, and Ingram at the line who finished in the top ten.
Plato, Priaulx, Shedden, Collard, and Smith will be the top five to start race two.