Colin Turkington secures title in first Brands Hatch race

Colin Turkington is the 2014 BTCC champion, with a third place in a chaotic first race at Brands Hatch enough to secure an unassailable lead over race-winner Jason Plato.

Plato headed home Triple Eight team-mate Sam Tordoff after taking the lead on lap eight, but West Surrey Racing’s Turkington was within striking distance throughout, and sealed the title by virtue of setting the fastest lap.

It was a crazy race, punctuated by eight safety car laps, after a huge first corner pile-up which removed five cars from the action, and a big shunt for Team BMR’s Warren Scott after contact with Nick Foster.

And it nearly became a very tricky one for the new champion, when he and Motorbase Performance’s Mat Jackson made contact along the pit straight on lap seven, but he escaped to set the deciding fastest lap next time around.

Behind the top three, Jackson came home fourth ahead of Adam Morgan, with an outstanding Rob Collard charging from 23rd to sixth. Fabrizio Giovanardi, Tom Ingram, Andrew Jordan and Nick Foster completed the top 10.

Turkington made an outstanding start to pass both MGs into Paddock Hill, while Tordoff outdragged Plato, before passing Turkington on the run up to Druids.

But while the top three escaped, everything kicked off behind. Fabrizio Giovanardi made contact with the back of Gordon Shedden, spinning the Honda Civic Tourer around in front of the pack. Rob Austin had nowhere to go and smashed into the back of Shedden, while Hunter Abbott and Matt Neal came together in the melee and also retired – a disaster for Honda in their manufacturers’ title bid.

Team BMR’s Jack Goff also pulled off the track after team-mate Alain Menu had nowhere to go and hit him from behind, causing Menu to pit for repairs, along with AmD Tuning’s Dave Newsham, who also took rear end contact.

Newsham retired after making contact with BTC Racing’s Chris Stockton at Stirlings on lap seven, before Plato passed Tordoff on lap eight when the latter pulled over to let the title contender past.

But the race was neutralised again a few seconds later, when Scott and Foster made contact while running side-by-side up Hawthorn Hill, spinning Scott around. The Volkswagen CC made heavy front-end contact with the barrier.

The drama continued right through the field to the final stages, when Triple Eight’s Marc Hynes tried to pass Luke Hines at Graham Hill, causing the latter to spin and be collected by team-mate James Cole, who had dropped back from running in the top 10 early on. Both United Autosports machines were out of the race on the spot.

Back at the front, Turkington now has an unassailable 44-point lead and will be formally crowned champion at the end of the day’s racing.