Section: Donington Park (UK)

BTCC: Champion trio delivers at Donington Park

The three most successful drivers in the British Touring Car Championship field took a win apiece in a thrilling triple-header at Donington Park.

With seven drivers’ championships between them it was the class of Jason Plato, Colin Turkington and Matt Neal that rose to the surface on a brilliant day of racing in Leicestershire.

Left slightly disappointed that he couldn’t convert his superior free practice pace into pole position, Team BMR’s Plato wasted little time in reaching the race one summit.

He immediately blasted by Gordon Shedden’s Honda Civic Type R off the line and had enough grunt in his VW CC to be nudging the sister car of Turkington into the first corner. Reigning champ Turkington held on for much of the opening lap but eventually had to give way to Plato on the run to the final chicane. Plato powered away by more than a second before sustaining the gap for the remainder of the race.

Attention turned to the battle for second which resulted in some epic mid-race action. After trading places, Shedden’s Honda slid slightly wide at Redgate on lap seven and Turkington promptly angled his VW down the inside of the Japanese machine. The Ulsterman only held the position for a split second, however, as his Honda rival fought back brilliantly by returning the favour on the run to the Craner Curves.

The Scotsman managed to keep the #1 car at a relative arm’s length until the finish and celebrated second by also setting the fastest lap. The new lap record holder would now start race two from pole position ahead of Turkington.

Team BMR’s Turkington made it by the pole-sitting machine of Shedden on lap one, and although the pair scrapped ruthlessly early on, the VW eventually pulled away to take a comfortable victory. WIX Racing’s Adam Morgan took his first podium of the season to complete the rostrum.

Such has been the competitiveness to the start of the 2015 BTCC season that Turkington became the fifth different driver to win in the opening five rounds.

It was to be Matt Neal who earned bragging rights as the first double victor of the year after he came out on top of a relentless multi-car battle in the final bout.

Power Maxed Racing’s impressive rookie Josh Cook started the race from pole position and despite losing out off the line to Rob Collard’s BMW, he soon re-passed and did an absolutely stellar job at the front for the first few laps, but his hard work was soon to be undone.

The race was neutralised on lap six when Sam Tordoff’s BMW and Jack Goff’s MG had a coming together at the final chicane. Both cars were fired off into the gravel and out of the race with the Safety Car being deployed to allow marshals to retrieve both stricken vehicles. This eroded Cook’s lead and set up a spectacular end to the day.

There were changes aplenty behind as Plato’s VW, Jordan’s MG and the Mercedes of Morgan tussled in the early stages.

Aron Smith had already blazed a trail from 12th on the grid up to third prior to the incident and was into second shortly after the restart. He immediately reeled in the race-leading Chevrolet of Cook ahead of him which led to a pulsating scrap over the following few tours. The pair touched through the ultra fast Craner Curves and both cars bounced across the grass in dramatic fashion. The wild sliding VW of Smith made it back onto the track right amongst the chasing pack while Cook rejoined behind them. It was an incredible escape for both drivers but the episode left Collard out front.

Neal, who had already clashed with Jordan’s MG at the Old Hairpin, hauled in the WSR car and squeezed his Honda into the lead with just two laps to go. Jordan made it through too and he was eventually sandwiched between two Hondas as Shedden made the last step on the podium after his own stellar drive from 14th on the grid.

Collard claimed fourth ahead of an incredible drive from teenager Aiden Moffat. Not only did the Mercedes youngster make the most of the incidents ahead of him but he also made impressive late moves by previous race leaders Smith and Cook. Despite his dramas, Cook takes the lead in the Jack Sears Trophy table.

Neal leads the standings by two points from Turkington, with Shedden a further five points adrift in third. Honda takes the lead in the manufacturer/constructor standings, while Team BMR head the teams’ table.

The championship now heads to Thruxton in Hampshire on 9/10 May.


MotoGP: British MotoGP left without venue after Donington breaks off deal

The 2015 British MotoGP has been left without a venue after Donington Park broke off their deal with Circuit of Wales to host the race on 30 August.

Circuit of Wales signed a five-year-deal to stage the race from 2015, but as the venue in Ebbw Vale has yet to be built, Donington stepped in.

However, Donington say Circuit of Wales have not met agreed payment deadlines.

Northamptonshire circuit Silverstone, which hosted MotoGP between 2010-14, could stage the race.

Silverstone’s owners were “extremely disappointed” when their deal was not renewed after significant investment to allow the circuit to host MotoGP.

In a statement, Donington Park said that as Circuit of Wales were unable to complete funding arrangements, the venue’s operational plans to host the race had been delayed.

“Both the commercial risks and the lack of time are now too great to allow Donington to proceed,” said the statement. “Therefore Donington Park must withdraw from other participation.”

The circuit’s managing director Christopher Tate added: “The position we are now in is of course frustrating and uncomfortable for all concerned.

“It is this week, way past any normal deadlines, when we – in partnership with Circuit of Wales – would have been committing to major expenditures.

“Circuit of Wales have made it clear to us that they are not now in a position to complete, so we have to withdraw and end the planned arrangement.”

Circuit of Wales was expected to be a purpose-built hub for the multi-billion pound British motorsport industry around a state-of-the art track.

However, the £315m project has been delayed with issues over common land and calls for the Welsh and UK governments to commit up to £50m towards the scheme.

Last month, it was announced that plans to build the venue in Ebbw Vale will go to a public enquiry in March.

The MotoGP season, with Honda’s Marc Marquez the defending champion, starts on 29 March in Qatar. The British MotoGP is round 10 and takes place on 30 August.

Read more at BBC Sport

Clio 182 Series: Donington Race Report

The 750 Motor Club finals weekend took place at Donington Park with a busy 24 race programme which was action-filled.

K-Tec Racing Clio 182 Series: Race 1

Jeff Humphries got off the line quickly in the opening K-Tec Racing Clio 182 Series race but went sideways at Redgate allowing Matt Fincham and Patrick Fletcher through.  On the fourth circuit Fincham was caught out by the slippery track and Fletcher took the lead.  The pair were nose-to-tail in the closing stages with Fincham overhauling the former Stock Hatch champion with 50 metres to go.  Ed Pead, who won 17 times in the Clio Cup, started from the back and clawed him way up into the top five on the final lap.

K-Tec Racing Clio 182 Series: Race 2

Humphries led every lap of the second encounter after seeing off various different challenges.  Pete Morgan battled Humphries at the beginning and end of the race but could never pass him.  Matt Digby was able to overhaul Humphries but as soon as he did, he lost his wheel and his Clio fell onto its side.  Patrick Fletcher joined in the battle for the lead and finished third but only 0.5 seconds off of the victory.


MotoGP: Donington Park to host British race in 2015

Donington Park will stage the British MotoGP for the first time in six years when the race returns in 2015.

The Leicestershire track will hold it for one year before it moves to the yet-to-be-built Circuit of Wales.

Bosses at Silverstone, which has hosted the event for the last five years, had hoped to retain it for another year.

Circuit of Wales consultant Chris Herring said: “In Donington Park, we have a venue that shares our vision for growing MotoGP in the UK.”

Donington Park staged the British MotoGP between 1987 and 2009.

But Silverstone managing director Richard Phillips, is unhappy with the decision to hand the race to Donington Park after failing to agree terms on a deal for 2015.

The Northamptonshire circuit, which has staged Formula 1’s British Grand Prix for the past 27 years, was partly redesigned to attract bike racing.

Phillips said: “We have invested heavily in the circuit and facilities here at Silverstone, specifically to host MotoGP, and have developed the British Grand Prix into a highly successful event.

“We wanted to keep MotoGP at Silverstone, but cannot afford to subsidise it. We are extremely disappointed not to be hosting the event in 2015.”

The Circuit of Wales, which is to be built in Blaenau Gwent at a cost of £315m, has a five-year contract with MotoGP.

But construction has been delayed by issues over common land and calls for the Welsh and UK governments to commit up to £50m towards the scheme.

Read More on BBC Sport