This Sundayís rounds 19, 20 and 21 of the 2008 HiQ British Touring Car Championship (BTCC) at Oulton Park, Cheshire, saw VX Racing dominate the podium as the most successful team of the weekend.
Temperatures soared at Oulton Park in a summer heat wave, and VX Racing certainly rose to the challenge. Coming away with three podium finishes and a stunning 49 points, their championship leads have been increased in the teamís, driverís and manufacturerís titles.
During the 30-minute qualifying session on Saturday, all three VX Racing cars performed consistently well despite the heat, each securing top ten start positions. Tom Onslow-Cole qualified as the fastest VX Racing driver of the day, and started from fourth on the grid for round 19, with reigning champion Fabrizio Giovanardi in fifth despite being burdened with maximum success ballast, and team-mate Matt Neal in seventh carrying 36 kg of ballast. SEATís Jason Plato qualified in pole position for race one.
Race one of the day saw Giovanardi claim his tenth podium of the year after running a clean, fast race to finish third overall.
With a starting track temperature of 41 degrees, an eventful first lap saw Matt Neal fall back through the pack. Giovanardi overtook Onslow-Cole on lap one, and then took the opportunity to slip past SEATís Darren Turner on lap four which promoted him to third position.
Onslow-Cole remained in strong points contention for the entire race, holding onto the front running pack and making good pace in his VXR Vectra to finish fifth. Neal crossed the finish line 15th position, with SEATís Jason Plato taking the win.
VX Racing dominated in race two, with Giovanardi charging home to finish second, and Onslow-Cole in third.
Giovanardi showed true consistency in the second race of the day with a clean drive, adding a further 12 points to his current championship lead. VX Racing rookie Onslow-Cole hung on to the back of Giovanardiís VXR Vectra for the duration of the race, and drove competitively for his well-deserved podium finish, clocking up a fastest lap of 1:28.523 along the way.
Neal picked his way through the field and despite getting caught-up in a number of battles with his rivals, gave an outstanding driving display and finished in a point scoring seventh following a 15th starting position on the grid. The race was won by Team RACís Colin Turkington.
The draw for round 21 saw VX Racingís Matt Neal start from third, Onslow-Cole from seventh and Giovanardi from eighth position.
Two-time BTCC Champion Neal was the highest point scorer for VX Racing, finishing in fifth place after a challenging race involving a series of spectacular on-track battles, and safety car conditions from lap two to four.
Reining driverís champion Fabrizio Giovanardi finished in sixth position. Onslow-Cole was heavily involved in a battle with his rivalís on the first lap, which saw him slip to the back of the field. He recovered well however, and demonstrated the Vectra VXRís speed by working back up through the field to finally finish 11th. Team Halfordís Gordon Shedden won the race.
Reigning team champions VX Racing now lead the standings with 339 points.
Fabrizio Giovanardi #1
ďThe car felt good this weekend, and I think it ran well considering my ballast. When your car is laden down there isnít a lot you can do, but I pushed for all I could get and overall I am pleased that I finished the day with two podiums. I have extended my points lead in the driverís championship nicely, and consistency is what counts.Ē
Matt Neal #4
ďObviously Iím disappointed that I managed to only score points in two out of the three races here at Oulton Park, and unfortunately this has seen me drop down in the driverís standings a little. Itís so close at the top of the table though, that hopefully with a good weekend at Knockhill I can pull my lead back again.Ē
Tom Onslow-Cole #10
ďIt was a pretty average weekend for me really. Although qualifying was good, and race one and two went well, I was disappointed with my performance in the final race. Sometimes though, you just have to try to stay calm and focused when something happens to you which isnít your fault. Iíd have hoped to leave the weekend with a little more consistency, but then again, I am pleased that I finished with a podium alongside Giovanardi!Ē