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BTCC 2006 round 4-6 Mondello Park, Race Report, 23 April

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  • BTCC 2006 round 4-6 Mondello Park, Race Report, 23 April

    Dubliner Gavin Smith was frustrated in his hopes to become Ireland’s first ever race winner in the Dunlop MSA British Touring Car Championship on Sunday – to the disappointment of his home crowd.
    In the BTCC’s only overseas event – Ireland’s Mondello Park – Smith challenged for the lead of Sunday’s third race for VX Racing but the country’s hopes were dashed when the 28-year-old ran wide on the 10th lap. The chasing pack made Smith pay dearly for his mistake, swamping his VX Astra Sport Hatch and forcing him back into fifth.
    Independent entrant Mike Jordan (Honda Integra) went on to score his first BTCC victory in that race. The previous two races of the day were both won by defending champion Matt Neal (Honda Integra).
    Smith’s team-mates all struggled at the Dublin circuit, which last year saw VXR win all three rounds.
    In the day’s first race, Smith and his team-mates Fabrizio Giovanardi and Tom Chilton finished in eighth, seventh and sixth places.
    Smith was fifth in the second race, but Chilton and Giovanardi were both blameless victims of racing incidents: Chilton had to steer into a gravel trap, and retirement, at the first corner when avoiding the spinning car of James Thompson (SEAT Leon), and when Thompson’s damaged suspension later caused him to spin out of control, Giovanardi was unable to avoid colliding with him.
    Giovanardi made a meteoric start to the day’s final race, seeing him move from 13th on the grid to third. Just three laps from a podium finish, however, the Italian was scuppered when Rob Collard made a very ambitious passing move, putting them both in the gravel. The pair rejoined in fifth and sixth place, but Collard’s car later retired. Smith finished in seventh and Chilton ninth.
    Gavin Smith:
    “In the third race, I knew I only had a few laps to get ahead of Mike Jordan before the tyres started to get tired. I didn’t quite pull it off and that’s how Matt Neal caught me and then everyone was bashing me around the place. I think I lost power in the engine for a split second but it was enough to let everyone through. I got a lot of defensive practice this weekend and that’s all valuable.
    “I’ll be taking the team out in Dublin this evening to cheer them up. We’ll all be drowning our sorrows together.”
    Tom Chilton:
    “In the third race I made the first unforced error I’ve made in years. I locked up at the last corner and let Jason Plato and Dave Pinkney through. In my defence, we were really suffering this weekend. I had no braking, no traction and no mid-corner grip in the third race and it got worse every lap. I’ve dropped from third to fifth in the championship and that’s not good for me or Vauxhall. “Looking at the positives, in the first race I kept ahead of both my team mates and I finished sixth so I’m pleased with that. In the second race there was nothing I could have done.”
    Fabrizio Giovanardi:
    “In the second race, James Thompson had a problem with the rear suspension after his crash. When he spun I couldn’t avoid him – it all happened too quickly. In the third race I was very angry and frustrated by what happened. I just don’t believe my luck – it’s enough to make you preoccupied! The team expect a lot for me, and I can give a lot, but if the results don’t start coming soon the pressure really will start building.”
    Ian Harrison, Team Principal:
    “We’ve got a plan for the next race. We’ve got some investigation to do but we’re definitely motivated and I’m sure we’ll bounce back. The pool of information isn’t very full and with two new drivers the pool of experience is the same. We’ve got to fill it up and that doesn’t happen over night but we haven’t forgotten how to win.”
    Race classification – Round 4
    1 Matt Neal (Honda Integra)
    2 Jason Plato (SEAT Leon)
    3 James Thompson (SEAT Leon)
    4 Colin Turkington (MG ZS)
    5 Gordon Shedden (Honda Integra)
    6 Tom Chilton (VX Racing, Astra)
    7 Fabrizio Giovanardi (VX Racing, Astra)
    8 Gavin Smith (VX Racing, Astra)
    9 Mike Jordan (Honda Integra)
    10 James Kaye (Honda Civic Type R)
    Race classification – Round 5
    1 Matt Neal (Honda Integra)
    2 Jason Plato (SEAT Leon)
    3 Colin Turkington (MG ZS)
    4 David Pinkney (Honda Integra)
    5 Gavin Smith (VX Racing , Astra)
    6 James Kaye (Honda Civic Type R)
    7 Mike Jordan (Honda Integra)
    8 Mark Proctor (Honda Civic Type R)
    9 Martyn Bell (BMW 320i E46)
    10 Robert Collard (MG ZS)
    Race classification – Round 6
    1 Mike Jordan (Honda Integra)
    2 Colin Turkington (MG ZS)
    3 Matt Neal (Honda Integra)
    4 James Thompson (SEAT Leon)
    5 Fabrizio Giovanardi (VX Racing, Astra)
    6 Gordon Shedden (Honda Integra)
    7 Gavin Smith (VX Racing, Astra)
    8 Jason Plato (SEAT Leon),
    9 Tom Chilton (VX Racing, Astra)
    10 David Pinkney (Honda Integra)
    BTCC Drivers Championship
    1 Matt Neal (64)
    2 Colin Turkington (62)
    3 James Thompson (56)
    4 Jason Plato (51)
    5 Tom Chilton (37)
    6 Gavin Smith (30)
    7 Mike Jordan (2
    8 Gordon Shedden (20)
    9 Fabrizio Giovanardi (1
    10 David Pinkney (13)
    BTCC Manufacturers Championship
    1 SEAT (134)
    2 Vauxhall (88 )
    BTCC Teams Championship
    1 SEAT Sport UK (102)
    2 Team Halfords (79)
    3 Team RAC (72)
    4 VX Racing (69)
    5 Team Eurotech Racing (28 )
    6 Motorbase Performance (16)
    7 Synchro Motorsport (13)
    8 Kartworld Racing (7)
    9 Geoff Steel Racing (4)
    10 Fast-Tec Motorsport (3)