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Round 11: Maiden win for Turner
3 June 2007
Darren Turner secured his maiden win in the Dunlop MSA British Touring Car Championship in round eleven at Croft, after Jason Plato slowed on the run to the line as SEAT played the team game.
In an action packed race – which saw ten retirements – Turner had led the race before allowing Plato through to give both drivers a bonus point for leading a lap. However, as Plato looked set for his fifth win of the year to extend his lead over Fabrizio Giovanardi, he pulled to the left as the leading duo exited the final hairpin for the last time to give Turner the win. Second for Plato however still strengthens his place at the head of the championship with Giovanardi only able to finish in sixth.
When the race kicked off – without Matt Neal who was pushed off the grid - it was Mat Jackson who made the best start to jump from ninth to fifth on the run to Clervaux, but out front Colin Turkington maintained his pole position from Gordon Shedden and Darren Turner.
An incident at the hairpin, where Giovanardi tagged the rear of Turner while trying to pass Mike Jordan, would prove to a sign of things to come, with the Italian getting through into fourth at the end of the opening lap with Jordan fifth and Jason Plato sixth – Jackson having slipped back into eighth by the end of the lap.
On lap three, seventh placed Tom Chilton dived inside Plato going into Clervaux in an effort to take the place but then ran wide through Hawthorn as he carried too much speed in the Vectra – a mistake that not only allowed Plato back through but also gave Jackson the chance to go into seventh.
The following lap saw a change for the lead as Turkington ran wide after locking his tyres up going into Tower which allowed Shedden into the lead of the race, while later on the same lap, Chris Stockton and Gareth Howell swapped positions at the final Hairpin – Stockton enjoying arguably his best race of the season in the BTC Racing Lexus.
The Hairpin would be the place where all the action happened on the following lap, with Turner going second past Turkington, who then found himself under attack for third from behind from Plato – who dived down the inside of fourth placed Giovanardi and tipped the BMW into a spin.
Although Plato could continue, Giovanardi found his path blocked by the stricken RAC car and then managed to tangle with the race one winner as he attempted to get going – launching the Vectra into the air and ripping off the left front wing while also stalling the engine. As Giovanardi then got the engine going once again, he set off right in front of the SEAT Toledo of Matt Allison who was coming through the field, causing further damage to the Vectra and forcing Allison into retirement – where he was joined by Turkington.
As the field came round to line up behind the Safety Car due to the bits of bodywork strewn all over the circuit, it was Turner who held the lead from Plato, with Shedden having slipped down to fourth as a steering problem started to rear its head on the second Team Halfords Honda. Jordan lay fourth ahead of Chilton with Jackson, Stockton and Onslow-Cole rounding out the top eight.
When the race resumed, Shedden quickly lost further places before electing to bring the car in for safety reasons which promoted Jordan into a podium place behind the SEAT pair – with Plato having been allowed through into the lead by Turner. Jordan however wasn't safe in the place with Chilton breathing down his neck and both Jackson and Gareth Howell not far behind – Howell having passed both Stockton, who took a trip through the grass at the Jim Clark Esses, and Onslow-Cole to go sixth, with Tom now seventh from Giovanardi, Erkut Kizilirmak and Simon Blanckley.
As was the case earlier in the day, the battle for points between Erkut and Blanckley was proving to be of the more intriguing with Blanckley doing his best to find a way past the Turk before both retired on 13, apparent contact between the two at Clervaux having seen Erkut go through the gravel and Blanckley pull off after the Chicane. It promoted a recovering Giovanardi and Jason Hughes into the top ten – the latter having started dead last in the Kartworld Racing MG ZS.
Giovanardi found way past Onslow-Cole on lap 14 when the rookie got out of shape through Barcroft but the race would have a sting in the tail for the VX Racing outfit – with Chilton retiring just laps from the finish when his gearbox gave up the ghost while trying to take third from Jordan.
As it was, Plato looked primed for a fifth win of the year, before slowing to allow Turner through out the final corner, Plato settling for second with Jordan third. Mat Jackson took fourth in his BMW ahead of Howell with Giovanardi sixth and Onslow-Cole seventh.
Hughes took eighth from John George (who will start race three from pole position) with the final point going to a recovering Stockton. Jim Pocklington was eleventh ahead of Martyn Bell – who took a trip through the crops belonging to a local farmer and finished the race with shrubbery hanging from the wing mirror of his BMW – with Neal completing the finishers in 13th having entered the race late from the pit-lane.
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