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BTCC opening rounds point to thrilling Oulton encounter

Monday, May 25 2015

The Dunlop MSA British Touring Car Championship heads to Oulton Park on 6/7 June, with rule tweaks and changes to the front of the field having made the opening rounds unpredictable and thrilling in equal measure.

The 2015 season opened at Brands Hatch in April, with Andy Priaulx taking a shock pole position on his BTCC comeback. It was his second series pole in succession, having qualified fastest in the final round of 2002. Whilst the triple World Champion had gathered much experience in the intervening years, he had yet to race with the soft tyres and suffered in his choice of rubber. WSR team-mate Rob Collard capitalised and won the first race of the year.

Jason Plato was on for a dominant win in the second round, but a puncture forced him into the Paddock Hill gravel, leaving Gordon Shedden and Priaulx to fight it out for victory. They did this in style, with a drag race to the line just favouring the Scotsman. His Honda team-mate Matt Neal won the third race after resisting pressure from MG's Jack Goff, and the veteran took a narrow title lead and completed a joyous debut weekend for the new Civic Type R.

Team BMR delivered on its early promise at Donington, where Colin Turkington took pole position and both he and Jason Plato claimed a win apiece. The third encounter was a BTCC classic, with rookie Josh Cook leading many laps until he and BMR's Aron Smith collided at the Craner Curves. This left Neal to take a contentious victory, after nudging Andrew Jordan's MG wide earlier in the race.

Smith topped qualifying at Thruxton, but the BMR man was unable to convert this to a win, suffering a race one puncture. Shedden took the first win and top five finishes in the next two races has given him the title lead heading into Oulton Park. Plato won the second, and Wix Racing's Adam Morgan the third. Blackburn's Morgan will be starting his home meeting with a spring in his step, as he's just 16 points off the title lead, in sixth place overall.

The Oulton Park rounds are expected to produce even more surprises and drama, and a return to the popular Island circuit configuration should guarantee plenty of overtaking, especially into the hairpin on the opening laps of each race.

Tickets for the BTCC at Oulton Park on 6/7 June are available in advance from £26, with free entry for children under 13. For more information call 0843 453 9000 or click here.