Rockingham BTCC: Cole takes comfortable maiden win in opener

James Cole converted his first British Touring Car Championship pole position into a maiden series victory in Sunday's opening race at Rockingham

Rockingham BTCC: Cole takes comfortable maiden win in opener

The Team BMR driver was never headed at the front of the field, preserving his lead in the early laps before stretching his legs in his Subaru Levorg to clinch a comfortable victory.

As Cole and fellow front-row starter Jack Goff slotted into first and second at the start, Colin Turkington - with an empty grid slot in front of him after Tom Ingram headed for the pits at the end of the formation lap - snatched third from title rival Ash Sutton on the run to the Deene hairpin.

That proved short-lived, though, as Sutton got a better run off the hairpin when the pack bunched up and slithered his Levorg back up the inside of Turkington's WSR BMW 125i M Sport at Yentwood, with the MG of Josh Cook following him through into fourth.

The top four bunched in the opening laps but, after initially resisting the chasing pack, Cole began to pull away and had built a lead of more than a second by the midway point of the 16-lap race.

Goff offered a brief fightback but found himself increasingly occupied with Sutton and Cook behind, allowing Cole a comfortable run home in the closing laps.

The 2009 British Formula Ford crossed the line 2.571 seconds clear of the pack to secure his first BTCC win.

Cole's previous best finish in the championship was fifth place.

"I don't want to say I'm speechless again, but I am," said Cole.

"I knew the front-wheel drive cars would be quicker at the start so it was just about containing them and then waiting for their tyres to go off."

Goff looked like he would keep hold of runner-up spot comfortably enough despite pressure from his pursuers, but ran wide at the Tarzan hairpin on the final lap and allowed Sutton to power ahead off the corner to complete a Team BMR 1-2.

That result moves Sutton to the top of the drivers' standings, three points ahead of Turkington.

Cook had a look at taking third at the final corner, but couldn't force enough space on Goff's inside and had to settle for fourth behind the Eurotech Honda Civic driver.

Matt Neal forced his Team Dynamics Honda Civic Type R up the inside of Turkington at the Deene hairpin on lap three to grab fifth, and also scored a point for the fastest lap, and held off any retaliatory attack from the BMW who finished on his tail in sixth.

Mat Jackson advanced from 11th on the grid to finish a lonely seventh in his Motorbase Ford Focus, ahead of Adam Morgan (Ciceley Racing Mercedes A-Class) and the third and fourth Levorgs of Josh Price and Jason Plato.

Gordon Shedden, who remains in championship contention, was classified 30th and a lap down after suffering a front-right puncture towards the end of the race.

Result - 16 laps

Pos Driver Team Car Gap
1 James Cole Team BMR Subaru 22m49.936s
2 Ash Sutton Team BMR Subaru 2.571s
3 Jack Goff Eurotech Racing Honda 3.167s
4 Josh Cook Triple Eight/MG MG 3.308s
5 Matt Neal Dynamics/Honda Honda 4.946s
6 Colin Turkington WSR BMW 5.245s
7 Mat Jackson Motorbase Ford 7.937s
8 Adam Morgan Ciceley Racing Mercedes 8.458s
9 Josh Price Team BMR Subaru 8.698s
10 Jason Plato Team BMR Subaru 10.157s
11 Tom Chilton Power Maxed Racing Vauxhall 14.234s
12 Andrew Jordan WSR BMW 14.976s
13 Dave Newsham BTC Racing Chevrolet 15.839s
14 Ollie Jackson AmD Tuning Audi 22.248s
15 Michael Epps Team Hard Volkswagen 23.693s
16 Aron Taylor-Smith Triple Eight/MG MG 23.903s
17 Rob Collard WSR BMW 24.200s
18 Ant Whorton-Eales AmD Tuning Audi 24.870s
19 Aiden Moffat Laser Tools Racing Mercedes 31.478s
20 Chris Smiley BTC Racing Chevrolet 32.048s
21 Senna Proctor Power Maxed Racing Vauxhall 33.655s
22 Martin Depper Motorbase Ford 35.254s
23 Will Burns Team Hard Volkswagen 35.506s
24 Jake Hill Team Hard Volkswagen 37.687s
25 Rory Butcher Motorbase Ford 39.334s
26 Stephen Jelley Team Parker Racing Ford 40.884s
27 Brett Smith Eurotech Racing Honda 43.747s
28 Matt Simpson Dynamics/Honda Honda 44.264s
29 Stewart Lines Maximum Motorsport Ford 51.271s
30 Gordon Shedden Dynamics/Honda Honda 1 Lap
31 Rob Austin Handy Motorsport Toyota 1 Lap
- Tom Ingram Speedworks Motorsport Toyota Retirement



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