James Nash holds off Rob Austin to take maiden British Touring Car win at Rockingham
|By Kevin Turner||Sunday, September 18th 2011, 16:43 GMT|
James Nash took his first British Touring Car race victory in an exciting reversed-grid encounter at Rockingham this afternoon.
The Triple Eight Vauxhall Vectra made a good start from row three to initially run third. He then drafted past polesitter Rob Collard's WSR BMW, which had lost the lead to Rob Austin's Audi A4 at Deene first time through, at the end of lap one to snatch second.
Nash took the lead by diving pastAustin at Deene on lap four of 16, but as the race went on the Vectra's 17-inch tyres wore faster than the 18-inch Dunlops on the rear-wheel-drive NGTC Audi.
Austin applied huge pressure to the Vectra, but Nash held firm to give Triple Eight its first BTCC victory since Fabrizio Giovanardi triumphed at Thruxton at the beginning of 2010.
There was an even fiercer battle for third. Collard dropped off the back of the leaders during the middle of the race and fell into the clutches of Paul O'Neill (Tech-Speed Chevrolet Cruze). They touched several times before O'Neill dived by into Chapman Curve.
Collard tracked the Cruze and got a great run out of the last corner going onto the final lap. He got down the inside into Turn 1 and his tyres were in such a fine state he charged after the leading duo. In the end the top three were covered by just 0.860 seconds.
Jeff Smith's Eurotech Vectra ran fifth in the early stages, ahead of a multi-car battle that only got broken up when Gordon Shedden's Honda tried to pass Nick Foster's WSR BMW. The ensuing contact allowed race one winner Jason Plato to break free and chase after Smith.
Plato's Chevrolet Cruze secured fifth by going round the outside of Smith into Brook, while the Vectra driver would get pipped for sixth by Matt Neal's Honda by just 0.028s on the run to the flag.
The clash with Foster broke Shedden's rear suspension and meant he fell out of the points, losing ground to Neal and Plato in the title race in the process.
Pos Driver Team/Car Time/Gap 1. James Nash Triple 8 Vauxhall 23m05.027s 2. Rob Austin Rob Austin Audi + 0.366s 3. Rob Collard WSR BMW + 0.860s 4. Paul O'Neill Tech-Speed Chevrolet + 2.207s 5. Jason Plato Chevrolet + 3.724s 6. Matt Neal Honda + 14.182s 7. Jeff Smith Eurotech Vauxhall + 14.210s 8. Andrew Jordan Eurotech Vauxhall + 14.726s 9. Frank Wrathall Dynojet Toyota + 15.174s 10. Tom Boardman Special Tuning SEAT + 21.065s 11. Alex MacDowall Chevrolet + 22.086s 12. Nick Foster WSR BMW + 22.357s 13. Mat Jackson Motorbase Ford + 23.663s 14. Daniel Welch Welch Proton + 26.706s 15. Dave Newsham Special Tuning SEAT + 33.296s 16. Martin Byford AmD Volkswagen + 37.909s 17. Tony Gilham Geoff Steel BMW + 38.419s 18. Tom Chilton Arena Ford + 38.420s 19. Liam Griffin Motorbase Ford + 41.584s 20. Michael Caine Motorbase Ford + 43.166s 21. Gordon Shedden Honda + 44.117s 22. John George Tech-Speed Chevrolet + 57.445s 23. Chris James ES Chevrolet + 1 lap Retirements: Tom Onslow-Cole Arena Ford 4 laps