JP Racing’s Josh Price took a controlled victory in the 2018 TCR UK Championship finale at Donington Park, with a sweeping move around Redgate and then a blistering pace that were enough to earn him an 18.417 second advantage at the chequered flag.
Stewart Lines ended his campaign on a high after an impressive fightback - coupled with a sublime defensive performance - to score a season-best second place for Maximum Motorsport, and the best result for a CUPRA on domestic shores. Newly-crowned TCR UK Champion Dan Lloyd showed his class after recovering from the rear of the field - and one or two setbacks - to complete the podium in the WestCoast Racing-run Volkswagen Golf GTI TCR.
It was Price who made the best start, out-dragging Carl Swift’s CUPRA to the first corner and boldly seizing the lead on the outside of Redgate, before easing clear as a thrilling seven-car scrap for the runner-up spot behind played out. Initially Swift held on ahead of Lines, before the latter lost out to Andreas Bäckman through the Goddard Chicane - and then paid him back in kind on the exit of the Old Hairpin as the Swede attempted to relieve Swift of second. That scuffle allowed Lloyd - recovering after earlier contact at McLeans with Lewis Kent’s Hyundai i30 N TCR - on their tail, after moves on first Finlay Crocker (Pyro Motorsport), and then Jessica Bäckman down the Craner Curves.
As Swift faded, Lines moved to the head of the group and Bäckman was bested by Lloyd on the outside of Redgate, before the duo played out a tense final two laps eventually decided in Lines’ favour. The Bäckmans finished fourth and fifth respectively - Andreas ahead of Jessica - with Vice-Champion Ollie Taylor’s Pyro-run Honda Civic Type-R FK7 classified sixth.
Finlay Crocker was next in seventh despite contact between the pair at Coppice, with Swift eventually finishing eighth. Kent’s Hyundai and the SWR-run Honda Civic Type R FK2 of Sean Walkinshaw round out the finishers. Darelle Wilson’s Vauxhall Astra was unfortunately an absentee after his earlier driveshaft problem kept him out of the final contest.
Josh Price (1st) said, “It was a good race, I managed to get away at the start and was praying the car wouldn’t have another problem. Halfway through I saw the gap and just started short-shifting and luckily nothing happened, so credit to everyone at Team Pyro, they’ve done a really good job on this car.
“It was really greasy out there, but from where I was you could take your time with the corners, which is best in these conditions. It looked like there was quite a gaggle behind, so I’m looking forward to watching it back and see what was going on!”
Stewart Lines (2nd) said, “My team mate [Carl Swift] was driving brilliantly, and then all of a sudden he started defending and brought the others into the pack, so I had to make a move on him. I was quicker in places and losing it in others, but I made sure I made up ground down the Craners Curves, it was a bit lairy - I think I nearly crashed about seven times! There was no grip out there. We changed the setup and the car was as loose as a goose, but it was quicker, so I just hung on to it.
“It was a game of chess at the end, but well done to Josh Price - he just drove away and left us. It’s good to end the season on a high; we’ve been threatening podiums but had a bit of bad luck, or contact in the wrong places. We’ve always had decent pace, but this time it’s come together.”
Dan Lloyd (3rd) said, “It was one of those races; when you’re more cautious, you end up getting into more trouble! I think without the contact with Ollie [Taylor] on the first lap, I might have had a chance of winning it, but there we go. There was more grip on the outside of Redgate, so that’s where I chose to make the move on Andreas. I got a really good start, had a great opening lap and got up to the front and got two big hits - I was lucky not to end up in the gravel trap.
“Congratulations to Josh [Price] - he won it by a mile. I’m just glad we’ve got the day over and the championship now.”