The Morganator becomes the Dominator at Rockingham MotorSpeedway
Adam Morgan scored a superb race win at Rockingham, Northants, as the Accrington-based racer enjoyed a superb fightback weekend in the Dunlop MSA British Touring Car Championship. Tom Oliphant endured another tricky weekend but again using his experience and race craft secured yet another points finish.
Adam took his first ever pole position in Saturday’s 30-minute qualifying session, the Mac Tools with Ciceley Motorsport Mercedes-Benz A-Class gaining a tow to help with the time but it was a mighty effort from Adam and the team after two frustrating race weekends.
“It’s been six years but we got there,” smiled Adam after qualifying. “This pole position feels like a win and bearing in mind that we normally race better than we qualify, this puts us in a great position going into race one.”
Adam made a superb start to the opening 16-lap race and shot towards Turn 1 ahead of the pack. Behind him, chaos reigned as Dan Cammish clattered into Sam Tordoff and the Honda turned the Ford around with others piling into the melee. That allowed Adam to break away, in his Fuchs Lubricants backed Mercedes and build a lead after the race resumed on completion of a safety car period.
Adam controlled the pace and started to build an advantage over Tom Chilton, whose Ford Focus was busy defending from Ash Sutton (Subaru Levorg). As the two squabbled, they delayed each other and allowed The Morganator to break away, and even though Sutton grabbed second spot, he was too far back to challenge Morgan. Adam ran out the winner to add to his successes at Donington and Thruxton.
“It’s always good to do a lights-to-flag victory,” said Adam. “I made a great start and I knew if I led out of the Deene Hairpin I would be OK. I led in, and when I came out I looked in the mirror and saw there had been drama, so I just got my head down and pushed on. After about five laps it became a bit slippery and then it dried up so I just concentrated on maintaining the gap.”
For race two, Adam carried the maximum success ballast: 75 kilos. That was always going to hamper his pace but, starting from pole position, Adam made a good start but was beaten off the line by the quick-starting rear-wheel drive Subaru. Adam slotted in behind and chased hard, but the lighter car of the reigning champion had the edge for the win with Adam taking an excellent second place and Independents win together with another big haul of points.
“I knew Ash would be strong off the line so I just had to do my best with the weight. There were battles behind me so I could build a gap over the pack and thankfully the flag dropped before Tom Ingram (Toyota Avensis) could catch me. With 75 kilos, second place was a great result.”
Adam would start ninth on the semi-reversed grid for the final race, with Adam carrying 66 kilos of success ballast so he once again had a heavy car. From row five, Adam made a great start and charged through drama at the first hairpin to gain ground and emerge in third place. As Adam chased the leaders, on a greasy track, he made a small mistake at Yentwood and slithered wide a few laps later, allowing the lighter cars to come by. That left Adam in a race-long duel with Ollie Jackson’s Audi S3. The two cars scrapped for the bulk of the race, chased by Dan Cammish’s Honda, but the slippery-shaped Volkswagen CC (also a ballast-free car) was able to jump ahead, relegating Adam to eighth place.
“A win and a second is a great effort for the weekend,” said Adam. “For the last race we ran the championship regulation hard tyre and our pace was steady but not great. We probably need to be more aggressive on the set-up, but the pole, win and second were fantastic. We have had two frustrating weekends, so to come here and rack up the successes is a real boost to us all. We came here ninth in the championship and are now up to sixth and I have had more wins than all bar one driver, so there is a lot to be pleased about.”
Adam’s efforts over the weekend netted Mac Tools with Ciceley Motorsport the Teams’ Trophy for the weekend with the most consistent trio of results, the first time the team has scooped the award.
Ciceley Motorsports Tom Oliphant qualified his Next Level Motorsport backed A-Class on the 11throw of the grid after a tricky qualifying that was hampered by a technical issue in Saturday mornings Free Practice session, although diagnosed and resolved by his Ciceley Motorsport engineers and the engine builder as quickly as possible, Tom was fighting an uphill struggle on his first visit to the Rockingham MotorSpeedway in 3 years.
Tom was out of the blocks and away in race 1 making brilliant progress through the pack until unnecessary and unfortunate contact again, this time with James Cole (Ford) caused Tom to call into the garage and have his Dow Schofield Watts supported Mercedes checked over. Tom left the pit lane and drove to a remarkable 25thplace.
Tom started race 2 and again moved forward through the field on the drying, greasy track finishing just outside the points in 17th.
For race 3, Tom like Adam had chosen to run the hard compound Dunlop tyre and although he made great progress in the early stages, the tyre in the later stages began to make life increasingly difficult but, Tom as usual, dug deep and brought his car home in 13thplace and in the points.
Tom Oliphant “I’ll take a points finish after what was a very difficult weekend. The time we lost in free practice really hampered us, and then to be taken out in the first race robbed us of any chance to come away with some serious results on race day.
“I knew this would be a tricky meeting as it my first-time racing at the circuit since 2015 and my first time there in front-wheel drive machinery, and that was intensified by the time we unfortunately lost in free practice due to some technical issues.
“It meant I headed into qualifying a bit blind as I didn’t know exactly where the grip levels were, where to push in the braking zones etc, so it was no surprise to come away with a lower result than we wanted, which made our comeback on race day even more pleasing.
“Our pace in the first race was fantastic and I loved being in the thick of the action throughout, attacking and overtaking every lap. The car was an absolute dream to drive, so to have our charge ended in such abrupt fashion was infuriating.
“That left us towards the back of the grid for race two and that was our toughest race, with a drying circuit slightly catching us out with car set-up. We still had some strong pace though and I was able to make some progress up the field.
“We started in contention for the points in the final race and I had some great speed in the early stages, so I could make loads of overtakes and get up to ninth. Unfortunately, we struggled on the hard tyre from there and it was frustrating to slip back to thirteenth.
“We have loads of positives to take away from the weekend though and I’m excited to see what we can do at Knockhill. Everyone says the car is a strong package there and I’ve had some great pace in Scotland in the past, so I’m really looking forward to it!”
Ciceley Motorsport’s Commercial Director Norman Burgess said: “What a weekend! Adam has excelled himself this weekend, starting with that first-ever pole position. That was a great start to the weekend, and a race win, a second, two Independent wins and then the Teams’ Trophy success has been outstanding. We know how competitive this series is and therefore you can’t always have a good weekend but we have had some lows in recent races and therefore to fight back here is superb. Our Mac Tools guests enjoyed some knife edge racing and seeing their car at the front in two races was excellent. Adam has proved he is a fighter: he dug deep this weekend and that determination was rewarded. Now we go to Knockhill and look for more success.”
Norman Continued “Tom has been unbelievably unlucky so far in his first year of the BTCC, every time he gets into a good position during a race he just seems to get collected in somebody else’s incident. Tom has everything required to be at the front in the championship, he is a fast, determined and measured racing driver with a fantastic CV, it’s not even a case of keeping out of trouble, because he does that perfectly but, at the moment no matter what he does, it seems to find him! Tom Oliphant will be on the podium sooner rather than later, he’s a class act who despite his wretched luck often shows what he is capable of, hopefully Knockhill will give him the break he deserves.”
Adam is now up to sixth in the Dunlop MSA British Touring Car Championship, with Mac Tools with Ciceley Motorsport eighth in the Teams’ Championship. Adam is now fourth in the Independents’ Trophy and Mac Tools with Ciceley Motorsport is now fifth in the Independent Teams’ Championship.
Tom is 13thin the Independents Driver Standings and 6thin the Jack Sears Trophy standings.
The next rounds of the Dunlop MSA British Touring Car Championship will be at Knockhill, Dunfermline, on August 25/26 and all the action will be shown live on ITV4.
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For more information on Adam Morgan, Tom Oliphant and Ciceley Motorsport, visit www.adammorganracing.co.uk www.tomoliphantracing.com
Contact the teams Commercial & Marketing Director Norman Burgess at email@example.com
The British Touring Car Championship (BTCC) was formed in 1958 and is Britain's most popular motor racing spectacle. Its race season comprises ten events at top circuits across the UK. It is contested by professional racing drivers in competition versions of every day road cars, giving it tremendous public appeal. Some 325,000 watch the BTCC trackside each year. It is also receives widespread UK TV exposure on the ITV network with all ten race events broadcast live on ITV4, ITV4 HD and www.itv.com