Belfast Telegraph

Turkington and Harper put on first class shows

 

By Sammy Hamill

It was a day of double firsts for Ulster drivers Colin Turkington and Daniel Harper at Oulton Park.

Turkington won his first British Touring Car Championship race of the year, a victory which took him to the top of the points standings for the first time this season.

And 17-year-old Harper won for the first time in the GB Porsche Carrera Cup, the Dromore High School student leading all the way from pole position to record a record a landmark victory.

Despite only qualifying ninth fastest, two-time champion Turkington produced a masterclass of clinical driving at the Cheshire circuit where overtaking opportunities are at a premium.

He had to fight hard to claw his way up to sixth place in race one which saw pole man Matt Simpson win for the first time in his Honda Civic. But in race two Turkington quickly carved his way to the front and stretched away to win from the Honda of Matt Neal.

Race three was red flagged after a massive startline crash which eliminated the two Hondas of the Ulster-owned BTC Norlin team and although there was significant damage to both cars, Chris Smiley and Dan Lloyd, who were innocent victims of the carnage, walked away unhurt.

Turkington started from the fourth row of the grid, and despite his BMW carrying maximum 'success' ballast of 75 kgs, he again surged forward to claim third place behind his West Surrey Racing team-mates Rob Collard and Andrew Jordan.

In all, Turkington banked 24 points to jump from fourth to first place in the chase for the championship.

Young Harper bounced back from the chastening experience of crashing at the first corner the last time he was on pole - at Monza - to produce an immaculate drive to victory in the Porsche series.

Even with his JTR team-mate Lewis Plato on his tail throughout the race, Harper resisted the pressure, even surviving a huge scare when a backmarker spun in front of him late in the race.

Meanwhile, Derek McGarrity opened up a 17-point lead at the top of the McGrady Insurance Northern Ireland Rally Championship with a dominant win on round three, the Modern Tyres Mourne Stages.

The seven-time champion's S14 Subaru was the only WRC car to figure in the line-up and he used its advantage to set fastest times on all eight stages to win by more than a minute from the Ford Escort of Damien Toner.

Camillus Bradley held off a late charge by David Armstrong to snatch third place, the two Escort drivers separated by less than two seconds at the finish.

And in a dramatic finish to the Italian round of the World Championship in Sardinia, Hyundai's Thierry Neuville snatched victory by less than a second from Ford's Sebastien Ogier on the final stage.

Belfast Telegraph

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