The BTCC’s annual visit to Donington followed in the footsteps of the past by producing intriguing drama and some of the closest racing seen this year.
With Donnington Park being a fan-favourite circuit, the pressure was always on for the event to deliver when the BTCC visits.
At the last event at Silverstone, there was plenty of drama and a spur of pleasantly surprising performances up and down the grid. Donnington provided that and so much more.
Throughout the three races held on Sunday, there where some clear ‘Winners and Losers’ who thrived during the weekend – and others who did not. Here are some of our top picks.
Winner: Gordon Shedden
‘Flash is back’ was a phrase which sprung back after Rounds 25 and 26, where the Team Dynamics driver managed to win both the first and the second races of the day – from pole position.
However, his second win of the day didn’t come without controversy. Tom Ingram was punished by the stewards for what they labelled a ‘Push-to-Pass’ overtake.
Historically in the BTCC, push-to-pash overtakes are usually not punished with any sort of penalty so there were discussion up and down the paddock concerning Ingram’s time penalty that dropped him behind Shedden.
We all know ‘Flash’ would never give an inch to his competitors, so Ingram was always going to give it all for a snatch at the lead.
Besides that controversy, Shedden sparked back up to the pace and competitiveness a three-time champion should be driving at, though we are quite late in the season to see him only take his first win.
Loser: Adam Morgan
It was a weekend to forget in a hurry for the Ciceley Motorsport driver.
Adam Morgan had another very unlucky outing in his BMW 330i M Sport. No points, and no pride to take away from what was the worst weekend out of anyone on the grid.
He failed to finish the first race after an accident on Lap 3.
Consequently, he failed to make the start of the second race due to his car still being repaired, and didn’t finish the third race to reserve and protect crucial parts on his car that were not at their full potential since the Race 1 crash.
Morgan and Ciceley Motorsport will be hoping that they can end this season on a serious high note at the final event of the BTCC calendar, Brands Hatch.
It isn’t secret knowledge that Morgan can race at the front – because he has done so on a frequent basis, so it will be just about tapping into that retrievable pace yet again.
Winner: Ash Sutton
With a healthy 32-point gap in the championship over Colin Turkington, the reigning champion is the hot favourite to claim his third title and in turn, defend his 2020 crown.
With solid points hauls in all three races, he’s doing exactly what he needs to do to make sure he brings home his third BTCC title at Brands Hatch.
It is simply incredible to watch how in-tune he is with the Infiniti Q50, and has shown yet again more pace, ability and maturity from the performances he has shown.
From setting the pace with a heavy ballast on-board, to charging up the field when the weight is loosened off, we are witnessing a great talent at work every race weekend.
Loser: Tom Ingram
As previously mentioned, Tom Ingram was involved in the controversial ‘Push-to-Pass’ fiasco in Race 2.
Ingram had a solid performance in Races 1 and 3 respectively, but for what the day could have been, he was bitterly disappointed with his results.
An 11th in Race 1, stripped of a win in Race 2 and a 10th in race three with 75 kg of weight added on, it was a weekend of missed potential as he further distances himself with Ash Sutton after the pair were so close for the title only a few events ago.
Winner: Colin Turkington
Matching a BTCC legend’s record is no small achievement. But to match Andy Rowse’s 60 race wins is something that most drivers consider unattainable.
Colin Turkington earned this in the final race of the day where he led from lights out to flag down. A dominant and aggressive performance.
His record-breaking weekend wasn’t perfect however after he had a spin on his own in the second race, plummeting him down to 11th.
And let’s not forget a recent pattern of him lining up on pole for the reverse grid race, after finishing the previous race with a lesser deal of weight ballast.
His race one performance was strong however and he is still Ash Sutton’s main title rival coming into the final rounds at Brands Hatch.
Even though he is undoubtedly one of the greats in the modern era of BTCC, as a four-time champion, Turkington carried an underdog status whilst the spotlight was on Ingram and Sutton.
It looked unlikely he would even see the sharp end of the standings due to a difficult start to the season, but he snuck up there with consistent points haulages.
Loser: Sam Smelt
From crashes to just having no pace compared to his normal rivals around him, Sam Smelt’s weekend was one he won’t be keen to reminisce on.
Himself and Jack Butel made contact at the second corner in the opening race, forcing both into an early retirement. Consequently, Smelt had his weekend ruined by being forced to nurse the car home in Race 2 and retiring again in Race 3.
Smelt will want to finish at Brands Hatch on a high and put the last few meetings behind him after what looked like a positive outing back at Silverstone.
Winner: Aron Taylor-Smith
More progression was made on the Cupra package over the Donington weekend allowed Aron Taylor-Smith to keep clawing his way higher and higher up the grid as the day progressed.
At the end of the opening race, Taylor-Smith finished in front of where he qualified by ending the race in 18th, he then managed to climb his way up another place in race two with some of the closest racing the series has seen this year.
However, his third race was where he claimed his Cupra “came alive”.
He managed to finish in a brilliant 12th position, a decent delve into the points-scoring threshold.
After signing a two-year contract with Team HARD, he has made his commitments clear and will simply continue to learn what the Cupra does as it nears a conclusion to a debut season.
Loser: Jade Edwards
If she had not been on the receiving end of multiple accidents and crashes that were out of her control over this season, she may have been able to build a rhythm and start to perform alongside her BTC teammates Josh Cook and Senna Proctor.
It was another disappointing weekend with no points and results to show. She’ll want to put it behind her, needless to say, especially after not finishing the third race alongside Proctor.
Winner: Daniel Lloyd
After taking huge steps forward with Power Maxed Racing’s Vauxhall Astra at Silverstone, himself and teammate Jason Plato came into Donington expecting to continue that progressive form.
Lloyd especially delivered with some of his most efficient and impressive driving so far this season.
A strong second place to kick of race day followed a brilliant qualifying from the day before to line up P2, in front of teammate Jason Plato and behind Shedden.
Lloyd ran a stunning set of three races; he finished in the top-1o in all of them and gave Power Maxed Racing a real boost after a tough opening to the season.
Things have come alive for the team recently, and it is fulfilling for Lloyd to soak up the positivity ahead of the Brands Hatch GP weekend.