After an action-packed first race meeting at Brands Hatch, Season 2 of the Chazlington Touring Car Championship was well into its stride... or so we thought. Silverstone very quickly stepped things up a notch in terms close racing. Half a second covered the Top 12 drivers in Qualifying, with less than 2 tenths separating 1st from 7th.
Pete Harrod took his first CTCC pole position ahead of a revitalised Michael Evdoka, who had a very tough first meeting. Round 2 winner Harald Stadler would line up 3rd, with the brilliant Simon Field in 4th. Championship leader Ben Palmer Qualified 7th, between the returning Pete Newman in 6th, and debutant Ben Creanor in 8th.
A remarkably clean start through Copse saw Harrod retain his lead from Evdoka, while some bunching at the back of the field saw newcomer Matt Bunn hit the back of Billy Rose into turn 2, then a traffic jam on the apex saw Harald Stadler get spun around after an altercation with McAuley and Palmer, followed by Pete Newman being sent skyward after contact with Jake Robertson.
A mistake from Harrod the following lap allowed Evdoka to assume the race lead, as Field, McAuley and Palmer were in hot pursuit. Ben Creanor and Lewis Bibby made multiple bits of contact at the end of Lap 2 - both of them utilising the rallycross cars' characteristics to stay in the race, albeit a few places back.
Further down the order, Stadler was making progress back through the pack, clawing his way back inside the Top 10. His teammate Jesper Lindh took tyres in his pit stop though, costing him valuable time - after only managing to Qualify 12th, it seemed that it wasn't his day at all. He would eventually come home 14th.
Steve Burke had climbed up the order through the chaos and reached 6th by the time the pit stops were under way. By keeping his nose clean in the Team Lizard Motorsport Fiesta, he would stay there until the end, and bag himself 12 much-needed championship points, after a difficult first meeting leaving him with only 2.
On to the final lap, Pete Harrod and Ben Palmer were right on the tail of Michael Evdoka's Beetle. Palmer made an opportunistic move down the inside of his teammate into the final corner, but went in late on the brakes and tapped the back of Evdoka, pitching him sideways. In a respectable display of sportsmanship, Palmer backed off to make sure he didn't gain the position unfairly, but once Evdoka was back in control, Harrod got a run and managed to get alongside.
The two were joined at the hip as they crossed the line - Evdoka giving as little room as possible to the CQR Subaru, and as they triggered the timing beam, it was the #989 Texense FitzSty Motorsport car declared as the winner, with less than a thousandth of a second separating them - so much so that the results didn't even display a number where the intervals usually appear. Palmer finished third, just ahead of Simon Field who had possibly the best seat in the house for the whole thing!
Jesper Lindh's poor Race 1 turned out to be a blessing in disguise, as he landed the reverse grid pole position, with Ben Creanor alongside, while Pete Newman and Niall Crowther made up row 2. Ben launched the car beautifully off the line, taking the lead by turn one, while Newman got a poor start and dropped a couple of positions. Stadler made contact with Billy Rose on the run down to turn 2, and ended up in the wall.
It didn't get much better for Newman at the end of the lap - coming into the second to last corner, John Roberts and Steve Burke got together, putting the CQR Club Fiesta into a slide, subsequently getting collected by teammates Dan McAuley and Pete Harrod. He would retire on the spot.
Niall Crowther was doing all he could to hold on to his 3rd position, but soon started falling down the order after Lewis Bibby seemingly opened the floodgates. The Texense FitzSty Motorsport driver then went on a charge, passing teammate Lindh and going after race leader Creanor. Simon Field was the first car to pit - going for the same strategy that got him a good result at Brands Hatch.
Dan McAuley and Ben Palmer followed suit, and after being in clear air for a lap or so, it meant that the latter was less than two seconds behind theoretical race leader, Ben Creanor. A lap or so later, a slide that led to him getting collected by Bibby, dropped him down to 3rd, and importantly handed Palmer the race lead.
Behind the top 3 an epic scrap was developing between Jesper Lindh, Dan McAuley, and sparring partners from Race 1 - Michael Evdoka and Pete Harrod. After losing out to Dan and Michael, Jesper was punted into Copse as Harrod lost it on the brakes. While recovering he was hit hard by Simon Field, putting pay to him turning his night around, and also dropping Simon down the order.
That left Ben Palmer to take his second win of the season, and extend his championship lead, with Lewis Bibby grabbing second and Ben Creanor getting a podium at his debut meeting. Dan McAuley made a mistake into the second-to-last corner, giving Evdoka chance to slip through and grab 4th place with just metres to go.
Steve Burke rounded out a very consistent evening with 7th place, while Stadler finished 8th after an incident on the first lap - he now sits 6th in the championship, 35 points adrift from the top spot. Jake Robertson put in a very under-the-radar performance in 11th, while Niall Crowther completed his second points finish in as many races, albeit 15th, and the last car still running.
The series now begins its tour of America, heading first to Lime Rock, then Summit Point and finally Barber Motorsports Park in the new year. CQR Club teammates Pete Harrod and Dan McAuley are looking like Palmer's closest challengers at the moment, 19 and 20 points adrift respectively, with Simon Field for BoosTED Motorsport a further 12 points back. Don't miss the action - watch live on Chazlington from 8pm on Monday night!