Thruxton | BTCC | 17 – 18 August 2019
The Kwik Fit British Touring Championship is full of challenges and our last event at Thruxton Circuit was our most testing weekend yet. The Hampshire track is the fastest in the country and after our first visit in May we felt confident of replicating our podium finish!
Right from the get go we were reminded of how tough this championship is as we immediately felt on the back foot. Sam and I finished first practice in 20th and 23rd respectively and we were both struggling with the balance of the car. Strangely the car felt very pleasant to drive but was just plain slow!! We set about adjusting the set up to make it looser on the rear and we found some improvements in practice 2 as we jumped up the order to 12th quickest. However, the car was a million miles away from where we were in May when we set the fastest lap of Race 3 and finished in a strong 2nd place.
We took a risk on both Hondas for qualifying, changing the geometry significantly in a bid to turn the car on. On my first hot lap I knew that we had gone in the right direction as I powered through turn 1 and felt the car hook up like it was on rails. Halfway through the lap I could see on my dash that I was significantly up on my practice time and I crossed the line to take provisional pole position! We eventually dropped down to sixth as the session progressed, but we didn’t go down without putting up a fight. I went for one last lap and set the fastest 1st sector of the session only to lose the advantage in the middle sector due to an almighty oversteer moment at the 5th gear Goodwood Corner. My teammate Sam took pole position and I held on to sixth place, despite carrying a hefty 42kg of success ballast. What a change of events from practice, the team had done an incredible job of turning our day around and I was most pleased with the huge progress from where we had started in the morning.
Based on the feeling I had in the car on Saturday afternoon I was full of confidence heading into Sunday’s races, however by lap 1 of race 1 I knew it was going to be a long day. The same handling gremlins from Saturday morning had returned and it was a real struggle to get the car to turn. I hung on to a 7th place finish in Race 1 and got beaten up and bullied down to 14th place in Race 2. We asked ourselves how can the car feel so different from one day to the next or even one session to the next?! We had no choice but to make some big changes to the set up of the car, the changes were significant but logical so we were all confident it would come back alive!
Unfortunately we would never find out if the changes we made had worked as I came to a halt on the run up to the starting line. During one of my practice starts on the green flag lap I heard a noise and then lost all drive. I tried to get moving but I could feel that something had broken. The marshals pushed me to the side and there was absolutely nothing the team could do to help.
After further analysis it was the left driveshaft that had broken, a part that was well within its life span. It’s a huge blow to my championship campaign as I drop from 3rd to 5th overall, but it’s important I stay positive and focus on the final three events. In this championship you just don’t know what will happen next and I need to be ready to snap up any opportunities.
It’s my home race in 2 weeks time on the 14th/15th Sep and excited is an understatement. I’m happy to admit that it’s the most challenging week on the calendar for me but it’s also the best experience too. For Aiden Moffat and I, this is our chance to compete on home turf in front of the Scottish crowd and all our friends, family and sponsors who have backed us throughout. We get to drive the track where our racing careers began – it’s a very special weekend indeed!