Early Season Success

18 April 2016








































Brands Hatch – Rounds 1, 2 and 3

The Owen Developments boosted 2016 Dunlop MSA British Touring Car Championship commenced in fine style at Brands Hatch with a trio of different drivers celebrating victory from the three fast and furious races. Tom Ingram, Gordon Shedden and Adam Morgan all tasted champagne on the top step of the podium, but it was Matt Neal who left the Kent circuit with the championship lead.

Ingram set a scorching lap record during qualifying on Saturday, taking a maiden pole position in the process, and the 22-year-old duly backed up his pace with an impressive lights-to-flag victory in the season opener. Reigning champion Shedden inherited the lead and ultimately the win in the second contest, after contact between Ingram and West Surrey Racing’s Rob Collard sent them both spiralling out of contention. Race three produced another lead change when pole-sitter Sam Tordoff had to give up top spot to the hard charging Morgan. Tordoff and WSR team-mate Jack Goff kept Morgan’s Mercedes honest throughout, but the WIX Racing star held on for his third career victory.

The day kicked off under glorious spring sunshine as tens of thousands of fans flocked to the world famous motor sport venue. The spectators were immediately entertained as Ingram and Speedworks Motorsport’s first ever BTCC victory received rapturous applause from the huge crowd.

While the race was frenetic further down the order, the top three contenders in Ingram, Honda’s Shedden and his team-mate Neal remained steady throughout. A slowing backmarker and a mid-race safety car spell proved to be the only issues for Ingram, but the young charger dealt with both interruptions with consummate ease.

The Halfords Yuasa Racing boys improved further in the second bout by scoring Honda’s first one-two of the season, as Shedden headed Neal. Honda inherited the top two positions after Ingram and Collard made contact and never looked back while Aron Smith completed the podium order in his VW – the first rostrum for new squad BKR.

Morgan celebrated victory in race three around the 1.2-mile Indy circuit after holding off a near race-long threat from the WSR duo of Tordoff and Goff. WIX Racing’s Morgan slotted in behind pole-sitter Tordoff and the soft Dunlop SportMaxx tyre-shod Mercedes crawled all over the back of the BMW on the opening lap. Morgan eyed his opportunity on lap two and darted past Tordoff on the run down to Paddock Hill Bend.

Three-time champion Neal may not have won any of the three opening rounds but used all his experience and guile to bag more points than his rivals with strong second, third and fifth-place finishes. He currently leads the standings from stablemate Shedden, while race three winner Morgan lies third, just six points off the championship summit. Aron Smith and Andrew Jordan enjoyed solid outings and line up in joint fourth.

Donington – Rounds 4, 5 and 6

Mat Jackson, Rob Collard and Matt Neal made it six different winners from the opening six 2016 Dunlop MSA British Touring Car Championship races, as the country’s biggest motor racing series produced an exciting and unpredictable triple-header at Donington Park.

Motorbase Performance’s Jackson won a breathless first race after muscling his way between MG Racing RCIB Insurance’s front row starters. Jackson pulled away from the MG duo and was more than a second up the road at the midway stage. Cook was equally comfortable in second, while Sutton was fending off fellow slow-starter Tom Ingram for third. The Speedworks Motorsport man ran side-by-side with Sutton as they crossed the start/finish line on lap 11 before making the move stick through Redgate to claim the final podium position.

BMW machinery then joined Toyota, Honda, Mercedes and Ford among the BTCC winners so far this season, when Collard took an impressive victory in race two. That prospect had looked some way off with WSR’s Collard starting from sixth on the grid. The Team JCT600 with GardX driver blasted up to third on the first lap, but had to wait until lap 12 to make further ground as Ingram defended valiantly. Collard passed the Toyota Avensis with a tidy move at the final chicane and he immediately set about hunting down Jackson’s Duo-backed Ford, which had led from the start. Collard hauled in the ballast-laden Focus and the two cars ran side-by-side through the exit of Coppice in the closing stages, with Jackson eventually having to concede going into the Esses.

Halfords Yuasa Racing took a commanding one-two in the weekend’s BTCC finale as Neal became the sixth different winner from the six races contested so far this season. Tordoff maintained the lead from pole position, and was followed by team-mate Goff on lap two, after he slipped by Neal’s Honda Civic Type R at the Esses. Reigning champion Shedden made his way through to fourth place, joining Neal in the quest to hound down the two BMWs ahead of them.

Although Tordoff desperately tried to look after his tyres, it became clear he was helpless to stop the Honda charge. Neal’s Civic Type R took eight tenths of a second out of the Team JCT600 with GardX BMW on lap 13 and he was through one lap later – making a textbook move at McLeans, one of the triple champion’s favourite hunting grounds.

Shedden produced a similar move on Tordoff as he had done to Goff earlier on – again at Redgate – and the Hondas were suddenly holding a comfortable one-two. Both streaked clear to take the chequered flag in unison and the BMWs of Tordoff and Collard followed in third and fourth – the latter also benefitting from the consistent performance of the hard tyre.

The two Hondas of Neal and Shedden, respectively, lead the way in the Drivers’ standings after a strong set of results over the course of the weekend – culminating in that race three one-two finish. The two BMWs of Goff and Collard made ground to place third and fourth – Collard profiting particularly from his race two victory.


 BTRDA – Somerset Stages

Luke Francis and co-driver John Roberts took the win at the Somerset Stages in their Owen Developments boosted Group A Mitsubishi Evo IX. This is their third overall win this year against World Rally and Super 2000 cars.

Going into the Somerset Stages Francis and Roberts, in spite of their early wins at the Cambrian and North Wales rallies, were trailing their rivals thanks to an engine failure while battling for the lead on the Malcolm Wilson Rally. In between rallies his engine had been at Owen Developments for a rebuild which was completed with time to spare for the Somerset Stages. Another good result would be needed to keep their season on track and their Championship rivals in sight.

On SS1 Luke and John took the early lead ahead of Charles Payne in his S2000 Fiesta, and the two would go on trading fastest stage times throughout the event. Payne had already proven to be a tough competitor in earlier rallies; only he and Luke were into double figures on stage wins this season and nobody else apart from the pair had won a rally.

Going into the final three stages Luke and John had a narrow 10 second lead over Payne, but Payne was not done yet. He went on to win the final stages, but Luke was able to match his times to the second at Croydon and Knowle holding on to an 8 second lead at the end, once again beating a host of ostensibly faster WRC and Super 2000 cars to the top spot.

To underline how well Luke and his Owen Developments boosted car did to win the Somerset Stages it should be noted that they spent the entire rally beating the drivers in a class which, on paper at least, is considerably faster than their own. In the end Luke and John were a full 4 minutes ahead (with an overall time of 40 minutes) of their nearest rivals in their own class, underlining the potency of an Owen Developments Group A engine in the right hands. The Championship is once again well within reach for Luke Francis and John Roberts.


 British Rallycross - Round 2 Lydden Hill

In a weekend where all of the odds seemed to be firmly set against Stuart Emery, the 2014 MSA British Rallycross Supernational Champion, he pulled off a spectacular performance to win his class from the back row of the grid, and earn driver of the day.

On the Sunday, he had missed the first heat altogether, and then was forced to retire in the second, due to overheating issues. In the third heat he did just enough to make the final, taking 6th place. The car, which had been rebuilt and extensively upgraded over the winter, still wasn’t on song with a limited amount of time before the final to identify and repair what was causing the cooling issues disrupting his event.

Come the final after an excellent start Emery had moved up from last to third place, whilst both Paige Bellerby and Tony Lynch had gone for the joker. The early lead was Mike Howlins, who Emery had tried to pass coming down the hill on the second lap, only to find the door shut.

Howlin was not able to withstand the pressure from Emery, who made a move going up Hairy Hill on the third lap, taking the lead. Coming out from his joker lap with a slight lead over Lynch, Emery drove hard for the remaining two and a half laps of the race utilising the extra power his Owen Developments OD2868HTA-M had helped him achieve over the winter to take a stunning victory in the MSA Supernational Class.

Though the event was being treated as a test by Stuart and his team the final result shows the potential of their upgraded package, including an OD2868HTA-M. When the British Rallycross Championship goes to Pembrey in May Stuart Emery will be among the favourites.


 Indy Lights – Round 2 Phoenix

Round 2 of the Owen Developments supplied 2016 Indy Lights Championship saw the first visit to an oval of the season at the Phoenix Oval.

From pole position Kyle Kaiser of Juncos Racing was never troubled on the way to his first win this season, taking the championship lead in the process.

Fellow front-row starter Carlin Racing’s Ed Jones was rarely more than 1.5 seconds adrift, but rarely closer than one second to the back of his rival, apart from when backmarker Heamin Choi span causing a caution.

At the end of the 90 lap race the leaders were split by only 1.1 seconds, but another 10 laps would have mixed the order behind Kaiser. Schmidt Peterson Motorsports’ RC Enerson was just 0.2 seconds off Jones, while Santiago Urrutia was pressing for third.

British driver Dean Stoneman’s oval debut ended with a satisfying fifth, from a start back in ninth. The Andretti Autosport driver was experimenting with different lines throughout, as he worked his way forward, and his constant pressure on SPM’s Andre Negrao paid off as he muscled past in the final quarter of the race.

Behind Negrao, erstwhile championship leader Felix Serralles (Carlin) was seventh, while the other St. Petersburg winner, Felix Rosenqvist of Belardi Auto Racing, was a desultory 15th.



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