Dan Lloyd secures fairytale race one win
Dan Lloyd secured a dream victory in the opening BTCC race of the weekend at Croft after holding off Colin Turkington to take top honours in the 100th race for his EXCELR8 Motorsport team.
The pair would dice for victory throughout just two weeks on from the huge accident at Oulton Park that had left both with extensively damaged cars, with Lloyd’s Hyundai having undergone a huge rebuild and Turkington having been forced to switch to his 2019 title winning machine.
Turkington held the lead at the start as the field headed down to Clervaux for the first time, with Lloyd jumping away well from the second row to slide down the inside of Dan Rowbottom going into turn one.
Further back, Gordon Shedden was slow off the line and appeared to tag Ash Sutton’s Focus on the run through the opening corners, which damaged the suspension on his Honda and left him to return slowly to the pits.
Perhaps aware of the fact that the BMW ahead would need more time to get heat into the tyres, Lloyd wasted little time in making a bid for the lead and swept ahead of Turkington on the run to the Jim Clark Esses to hit the front.
Before Lloyd could break away at the front, the safety car was called out to retrieve Ollie Jackson’s Focus from the barriers at Sunny Out, with the Motorbase man having gone into the tyres with damaged suspension.
Jackson had been dicing for position with Josh Cook, Jason Plato and Adam Morgan at the time, with Morgan having been tipped into a spin on the run towards Sunny just seconds before the Focus went off.
Lloyd was able to hold station at the restart but had Turkington giving chase, with the Hyundai appearing to have the advantage on the fast run through sector two but Turkington’s BMW then able to close back in through the twisty final sector.
With Lloyd unable to get away, Rowbottom, Ingram and Jake Hill were able to close onto the lead pair, with the top five covered by a second and a half by the end of the tenth lap.
With Lloyd forced to take an increasingly defensive line into the hairpin, Turkington was finding himself vulnerable to attack from Rowbottom behind, with the Team Dynamics driver trying on more than one occasion to put the Honda around the outside of the BMW in a bid to take second.
The battle would be paused again on lap 13 after Aron Taylor-Smith’s Cupra went off on the exit of the chicane with broken suspension and buried itself firmly in the tyres on the outside of the circuit, bringing the safety car out for a second time.
With the Cupra removed, action resumed with three laps remaining and Lloyd was able to get a slender advantage over Turkington, with Ingram heaping pressure on Rowbottom for third – allowing the top two to break away.
Heading into the final lap, Lloyd held a lead of three tenths of a second with Turkington getting closer to the Hyundai than ever before through Sunny.
The BMW would get alongside going into the Complex but Lloyd held on to take the chequered flag for his second career win. Turkington would take the flag in second spot ahead of Rowbottom with Ingram, Hill and Ash Sutton following close behind.
With little in the way of changes within the top ten after the opening lap, Rory Butcher’s Toyota took seventh from Aiden Moffat, with George Gamble and Tom Chilton rounding out the top ten.
Having qualified back in 20th place after issues in qualifying, points leader Josh Cook battled hard to make his way up to 15th place at the finish to grab the final championship point and ensure he retains a two point advantage going into race two.