By the end of the the first three rounds of today's opening races in the British Touring Car Championship, two old rivals had reason to celebrate.

Matt Neal heads the Championship, with the series now moving on to the ultra fast sweeps of Thruxton, but yet again, the hero of the day at Brands was Jason Plato, who despite only having sat in his RML Chevrolet for the first time on Friday, came away with a race 3 victory... [read more]

Glorious weather greeted the season opener at the Kent circuit and as usual, the BTCC did not fail to deliver drawing a large crowd. Race 1 went the way of VXR but unlike last year, Matt Neal was the the man to beat, passing the fast starting BMW's of Collard and Turkington and defending to the flag.
Fabrizio Giovanardi followed Neal home after fighting his way back from a poor start which dropped him to fitth.
The pace of the BMW's of Collard and Turkington was very evident, with both leading the race before Neal made his move, possibly signalling that VXR may not have an easy ride this year after all.
Not so fortunate was newcomer Johnathon Adam in his Team Airwaves BMW who ended his 1st BTTC race on lap 1 after being an unfortunate victim to a startline collision between Gordon Shedden and Stephen Jelley.
Race One Result:
1. Matt Neal (VX Racing Vauxhall Vectra), 27 laps
2. Fabrizio Giovanardi (VX Racing Vauxhall Vectra), +0.400s
3. Colin Turkington (Team RAC BMW 320si), +0.895s
4. Robb Collard (Airwaves BMW), +3.300s
5. Adam Jones (Cartridge World SEAT Leon), +6.217s
6. Jason Plato (RML Chevrolet Lacetti), +11.304s
7. Stephen Jelley (Team RAC BMW), +11.306s
8. Harry Vaulkhard (Tempus Sport Chevrolet Lacetti), +13.977s
9. Dan Eaves (Cartridge World SEAT Leon), +15.103s
10. Martyn Bell (Sunshine.co.uk Honda Integra), +15.381s
Race two saw a maiden victory for Robb Collard, the former short oval stockcar driver passed Turkington into Druids on the penultimate lap after following the Team RAC BMW away from the line.
Having been passed by both BMW's on the run up to the paddock as the lights went out, both Giovanardi and Neal gave chase.  2008 champion Giovanardi lead Neal untill he suffered a puncture and had to pit.  After last years amazing run of race finishes, 2009 looks as though it could be different for the Italian, who this year is aiming to be the first driver to win three BTCC titles in a row since the legendary Andy Rouse.
Plato came home a distant 10th, dissapointed with his pace. But by the luck of the draw, he would start the reversed grid race three from pole.
Race Two Result:
1. Robb Collard (Airwaves BMW 320si), 24 laps
2. Colin Turkington (Team RAC BMW 320si), +1.026s
3. Matt Neal (VX Racing Vauxhall Vectra), +3.258s
4. Stephen Jelley (Team RAC BMW 320si), +3.654s
5. Andrew Jordan (VX Racing Vauxhall Vectra), +15.464s
6. Gordon Shedden (Team Dynamics Honda Civic), +18.714s
7. Adam Jones (Cartridge World SEAT Leon), +19.218s
8. Dan Eaves (Cartridge World SEAT Leon), +19.552s
9. Jonathan Adam (Airwaves BMW 320si), +23.022s
10. Jason Plato (RML Chevrolet Lacetti), +24.790s

Race three saw both Plato and Johnathon Adam battle it out on the drag away from the line. Plato seemed to have it covered only for Adam to tap him into a wild lockstop to lockstop moment which he caught and saved quite majestically. With Adam through into the lead, the field bunched up behind the recovering Plato. But chaos reigned at Graham Hill bend, as Stephen Jelley and Collard collided. Giovanardi was caught up in the ensuing melee and suffered enough damage to force him into retirement along with Jelley.
Adam continued to hold his lead which he would take to the flag, while the real mover from the field was Neal who by way of his "usual" clearways moves, made it onto Plato's tail for the run to the finish.
Johnathon Adam was jubilant as he stepped from the Airwaves BMW to take his place on the top step of the podium, but it was Plato who stood on the door sill of his Chevrolet and punched the air, perhaps he already knew that the stewards would be watching the tape! The decision came through that Adam was declared to have pushed him into the spin and he was therfore given a four second penalty dropping him to second.
 Race Three Results:
1. Jason Plato (RML Chevrolet Lacetti), 25 laps
2. Jonathan Adam (Airwaves BMW 320si), +3.825s
3. Matt Neal (VX Racing Vauxhall Vectra), +4.123s
4. Colin Turkington (Team RAC BMW 320si), +4.245s
5. Gordon Shedden (Team Dynamics Honda Civic), +5.115s
6. Dan Eaves (Cartridge World SEAT Leon), +9.731s
7. Adam Jones (Cartridge World SEAT Leon), +10.502s
8. Robb Collard (Airwaves BMW Chevrolet Lacetti), +10.599s
9. Harry Vaulkhard (Tempus Sport Chevrolet Lacetti), +11.302s
10. Martyn Bell (Sunshine.co.uk Honda Integra), +21.067s
All in all a very promising start to the 2009 season. Great weather, great action and even the Brands "Water Bowser" was in action, keeping the car park dust under control, which is something I can honestly say that I have never seen at a UK circuit in over 30 years!  Fair Play! 
For additional images (The Good Stuff!) from the BTCC and Support Races at Brands, visit CTD over the next few days (example above)

Be sure and stay tuned, as CTD'S Neil Tozer will be at Thruxton for the next rounds of the Series. 

Photo/Editorial: Neil Tozer


  1. That save by Plato is one of the most amazing feats of driving I've ever seen. He earns his spot on "5th Gear", that's for sure!

  2. Thanks for the great coverage of the BTCC. I am looking forward to Thruxton!