Dan Cammish wins race one after Rory Butcher heartache
Dan Cammish secured victory in the opening race of the weekend at Brands Hatch after drama for long-time leader Rory Butcher saw him miss out on a home win for Motorbase.
Pole man Butcher made the ideal start when the lights went out to maintain the lead into turn one, with Cammish slotting into second despite the best efforts of Ollie Jackson to try and sneak inside the Honda as the field headed for Paddock Hill.
Jackson would be squeezed against the tyre wall on the inside and instead slipped back a place behind the fast-starting BMW of Colin Turkington as the champion jumped up from fifth into third.
Behind however, team-mate Tom Oliphant found himself in the wars as he attempted to make up places, losing a spot to Tom Ingram at Hawthorn and then running off track after contact from Josh Cook on the run to Westfield – dropping him well down the order.
Butcher held the lead through the early stages from Cammish and Turkington, with the main battle between Ingram and Cook over P6. Having tried to take fifth from the Honda of Jake Hill, Ingram slipped into the clutches of Cook having been unable to make a move on the MB Motorsport car ahead stick, with Cook trying to go round the outside through Hawthorn and then into Westfield.
Cook would however find himself run out wide across the grass, dropping down the pack and leading to him needing a pitstop to have grass removed from the front of the car.
As the race passed the half-way stage, the battle for the lead between Butcher and Cammish was becoming an increasingly interesting affair, with the Honda appearing to have the edge on the Indy part of the circuit but the Focus then stretching its legs on the GP loop.
Turkington meanwhile was edging closer to the back of the Honda in third, with Jackson and Hill having slipped away from the podium battle. A charging Ingram behind was starting to put the Honda under pressure for fifth, with Tom Chilton and Ash Sutton following behind.
Ingram was finally able to make a move stick at Surtees on lap twelve as he got a run up the inside on the exit of Graham Hill Bend, with Hill slotting in behind.
As Cammish tried to keep Butcher honest at the front, the sister Honda of Matt Neal was enduring a more challenging start to race day having dropped down the order to run outside the points.
Dicing for position with Chris Smiley and Aiden Moffat, Neal tried to follow Smiley through when the Hyundai went up the inside of Moffat at Hawthorn only for the Honda and Infiniti to clash – leaving Neal to spin off to the outside of the circuit with damaged suspension – leading to the safety car being deployed.
With the Honda removed from the circuit, the action resumed on lap 16 with drama on the run up to Druids as Cammish lunged up the inside for the lead and Butcher locked up – running wide in the Focus and dropping down the order with a puncture on the front left.
Cammish quickly scampered away from Turkington at the front with Jackson coming under huge pressure from Ingram in the fight for third – with Chilton also getting caught up in the fight.
As Cammish controlled the final lap of the race to become the first two time winner of the season and Turkington followed him home, Jackson was forced to defend right to the flag before securing the final place on the podium from Ingram with Chilton holding off Ash Sutton’s Infiniti for fifth.
Senna Proctor took seventh for his first points of the season ahead of a recovering Oliphant, with Stephen Jelley and Hill rounding out the top ten – the latter having dropped back after a squabble at Druids on the restart.
Butcher would ultimately fail to finish having managed to drag his car back to the pits and now faces a fight through the pack in race two.