Aiden Moffat reports on mixed fortunes at Donington
Our Laser Tools Racing Mercedes showed great pace in the Kwik Fit British Touring Car Championship at Donington Park at the weekend, in a weekend affected by incidents aplenty.
This year we are testing and preparing our car independently of the similar cars in the championship, and the result is significant improvements that has helped the team to find a better set up across the free practice sessions. I went into the all-important qualifying session full of optimism, but the weather Gods weren’t smiling on the championship: the track was never fully wet nor dry as drizzle came and went, which meant that finding a lap when the track was dry was crucial. Sadly, that meant everyone went out at the same time and hence finding a gap in the traffic was difficult and three red-flag stoppages to the session, caused by cars sliding off the road — very frustrating! The result was, I got one clear lap in! Every other lap I was either stuck in traffic or the red flags came out and we all had to back off.
Saying that. I made a good start to the opening race, but as the cars in front entered turn four of the Old Hairpin, contact ahead triggered mayhem. Andrew Jordan’s BMW was turned sideways across the pack and T-boned forcing other cars to scatter in avoidance. I managed to dodge contact but found myself on the wet grass at high speed. I didn’t want to fight the car because it was so wet on the grass it would have spun so I had to back off and let it come back on to the road. That meant that the radiators and intakes filled up with grass so I had to pit to clear them, otherwise the car would have overheated.
With the safety car now on track, I re-joined the race at the rear of the grid but I was happy with my recovery, fighting my way from 25th to 14th place by the chequered flag.
For race two, we started 14th on the grid running the harder option tyre, but trouble struck early in the race. The car had a throttle body problem, which caused the engine to cut out. I managed to restart it but the car cut out a second time forcing a lengthy pit stop for repairs. Once replaced, the new throttle body sensor behaved itself allowing a few laps of testing for race three, but 24th was poor reward in my opinion.
Starting 24th on the grid, I charged through the pack to net 14th place at the chequered flag, but I really feel that we could have finished even higher. However, it was what it was! I got forced wide at the start so I lost a bit of ground but I was able to fight back — we made a few changed to the front end of the car which were a bit of a gamble and they didn’t work as we had hoped. They were worth trying as we were so far back, but the changes didn’t give us the result we were after.
I’m not downbeat about the weekend because we have seen a good set-up work on the car now in both wet and dry conditions and I think if I’d had a clear lap in qualifying, that would have changed our weekend. Yes, I’d love to have gone better but we take our fast and consistent pace as a real positive from the weekend and go to Thruxton next looking forward to running at the front.
The next rounds of the Kwik Fit British Touring Car Championship are at Thruxton, Hampshire, on May 18/19 with raceday coverage live and exclusive on ITV4.
30 Apr 2019