Our fourth and final category got underway on Sunday and it was a cracking opening round for the Global Touring Car Championship at Spa. The 14-strong field produced great racing right throughout the field and nearly all of the drivers expressed positive feedback right off the bat. So let’s take a look back at all the action from round 1 of the 2017 LXG Global Touring Car Championship.
Qualifying: First FF pole for Harvey
Jacob Harvey has continued his form from the V8 Supercars to take his second support category pole of the year and the first for the GTCC’s. The BMW RyZbY28 Racing JHP pilot set a blistering pace to take pole by almost two-seconds over Matthew Bink’s Chevrolet Cruze. It backed up a strong run for he and Ryan West in their Nissans earlier in the night.
Race 1: Harvey wins after race-long battle with Bink
Jacob Harvey has backed up his pole position with the first GTCC victory after battling for the lead with Matthew Bink. The two duelled over the top spot from the first corner to the last as the superior top-speed of the BMW went head-to-head with Bink’s low-speed acceleration. Their battle sets up an enthralling battle for the season.
Harvey got the jump from pole and led the field away but was instantly under pressure from Bink’s Cruze. Behind them the battle was on between third, fourth and fifth as Adrian Yalpi, Troy Warner and Andrew Dyson formed a battle-pack.
Dyson made the most of the first lap to fly by Warner and set his sights on the back of Yalpi’s Toyota. Back in the pack, the two Lightning Racing Team Audi’s were fighting over eighth and ninth with Corey Minton taking the spot from Zach Needham.
Don Hill was also making ground after dropping back on the start. He was moving through pack and was up to 11th by lap 3 but was unable to go any further. Jesse Tekin took over ninth when the two LRT Audi’s came together and Minton found the gravel trap at turn 15.
Minton got past him again but made a mistake on the exit of turn 14 and fell back behind the #99 Toyota. Tekin then made a mistake at turn 15 and was forced to defend his spot from Brian Munn’s Chevy Cruze. He was unable to and Munn moved up to ninth on lap 3.
Minton was also recovering ground and took tenth from Tekin on the back straight before inheriting ninth when Munn ran wide at turn 9. Tekin dropped to 12th with two laps to go when Hill got by him at turn 1.
But out in front Harvey was able to hold off Bink and take the first GTCC win of the season and the championship with Dyson coming home third.
Race 2: Bink fights back in epic race with Harvey
Black Diamond Racing’s Matthew Bink has fired a returning shot to Jacob Harvey after going from second-last to win the reverse grid race at Spa Francorchamps. The two raced for the lead the whole way with six lead changes in two laps.
Gavin Deriu started from pole position alongside Shane Clarke, and Deriu got the jump to lead the pack into turn 1. But the best start came from Bink as he went from 13th to 4th in the first turn. By turn 9 he was in the lead after Hill, Deriu and Clarke tangled at turn 8.
Harvey followed through and was on the tail of the #38 Cruze as they completed the first lap. As the field rounded the last few turns behind them, Troy Warner and Adrian Yalpi came together which sent Yalpi touring the grass. He rejoined only to tag the back of Deriu’s Cruze at the final chicane.
That spun both cars but Deriu continued on despite losing a few positions in the scuffle. The same couldn’t be said for Yalpi who fell to the back of the pack after sticking it in the tyre wall.
Out in front the battle was on for the lead as Bink defended from Harvey. The strengths and weaknesses of their respective cars saw Bink launch off turn 1 strongly, but the top speed of Harvey’s BMW would put him under pressure at the other end of the back straight.
They traded the top spot over the final three laps but Bink proved he had the goods and held on to record his second win in a BTCC/WTCC car after his victory in the 2016 Brands Hatch Challenge. The win put them on equal points entering the final race of the night.
Race 3: Harvey wins after last lap mistake by Bink
Jacob Harvey has secured his second win in the GTCC’s with a last gasp victory over Matthew Bink. The two battled for the lead once again and Bink looked set to go back-to-back before a mistake at turn 14 dropped him out of the lead on the final lap. The win for Harvey sees him take the lead of the championship, his first time leading any of the LXG categories this year.
Bink got the jump off the line and led the pack into turn 1 and was once again under attack from Harvey’s BMW who tried to make a move under brakes at the final corner but was forced to slot back into second.
Behind the leaders it was on between Adrian Yalpi, Jesse Tekin, Troy Warner and Will Joseph who were fighting hard for seventh through to tenth. Warner got by Yalpi at the final corner and their continuing battle saw the next pack of cars join the train.
Warner won that battle while Yalpi fell back to ninth behind his teammate who passed him on lap 4 when Yalpi fired into the fence thinking the race had finished.
But out in front it was Bink leading the way until he slipped into the gravel trap at turn 14 and let Harvey take the top spot after an epic round of racing for the leading pair. They leave the opening round just 2-points apart while Andrew Dyson leaves 11-points adrift in third.