Honda Civic Type R driver Matt Simpson claimed his first victory in the Dunlop MSA British Touring Car Championship at Oulton Park today - but was then forced to miss the rest of the race meeting due to an engine problem that was diagnosed shortly after his breakthrough win.
Simpson was on top form all weekend and secured his first pole position during qualifying on Saturday, setting a standard of 1min 25.750sec around the 2.23-mile Cheshire circuit.
Come race day, all eyes were on him to see whether he could withstand the pressure and convert his grid advantage into the race lead at the start. Lining up behind him on the starting grid were several proven race winners, namely: Sam Tordoff (Ford Focus RS); Tom Chilton (Ford Focus RS); Andrew Jordan (BMW 125i M Sport) and Matt Neal (Civic Type R).
Simpson made no mistakes and led from start to finish, keeping out of distance of the lurking Chilton until the final lap, when Simpson’s pursuer closed to within +0.265sec as the leader began to struggle with fading brakes.
There was another slight concern during the race because the leader’s Civic Type R was regularly emitting smoke from its nearside-front corner, but Simpson, from West Drayton in Middlesex, kept his cool to claim victory for the first time in 68 BTCC race starts.