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Second place in Race 3 for our new Infiniti at soggy Silverstone

In torrential rain, Laser Tools Racing’s Aiden Moffat produced a tremendous drive to bag second place in Race 3 of the Kwik Fit British Touring Car Championship at Silverstone, on Sunday September 29:

It marked my first podium finish since the win at Silverstone last year and the best-ever race result for our newly-introduced Laser Tools Racing Infiniti Q50.

Earlier in the weekend the team were continuing the development of the new car during the two free practice sessions, and I was working closely with engineer Federico Turrata to find extra pace in the car and work on its set-up. The short, 1.6-mile Silverstone National Circuit needs a car that has good aero on the fast Wellington Straight and good handling through the four corners on the lap. We worked to find the perfect set-up during free practice, and come qualifying continued to work on the balance of the car. We ended the session 19th, but in terms of a lap time, just four-tenths of a second away from pole position, which was very satisfying, and shows just how far we have come with the car in a few short weeks.

Started the opening race of the weekend on the option tyre, Dunlop’s softer compound, and I was trying to gain places from the start. The race started on a damp but drying circuit, leaving the rear-wheel drive Infiniti at a disadvantage on the slippery track. I got up to 18th spot before contact with Bobby Thompson’s Volkswagen CC. The clash delayed us and I dropped back into 19th place at flagfall.

On the soft compound the car took a long time to work the heat into the tyres. I had no grip, really, for the first few laps and I was sliding around, and I’ve never raced a rear-wheel drive car in the wet, but once the tyres switched on and offered traction, the car was a lot better. Suddenly, the pace was there but then I got hit by Thompson and that bent the steering and damaged a wheel, which affected the rest of race.

Our second race suffered with dramas even before the off, as the car ground to a halt on the formation lap with a broken prop-shaft! Thank goodness it had not happened on the grid. The car was quickly pushed off the track and returned to the pit lane where the Laser Tools Racing mechanics set to work to repair the car and I then used the remaining laps as a test session.

The final race was a lottery thanks to the weather. Sunshine and rain. The track was damp with drizzle in the air as the cars came to the grid but the majority of the grid was on slick tyres. An early incident necessitated the deployment of the safety car and as the pack slowed, I heard, “Box!” through my intercom, the secret instruction from Federico Turrata to pit for wet tyres. So I quickly dived for the pits. This meant dropping down the order as I returned to the track it proved to be a brief drop on the lap chart. One lap later, with rain increasing, more of the field headed for the pits which moved me up the order and worked very well for us!

I was 15th on the restart but with the freshly-fitted wet tyres I soon found extra traction coming into play. Ahead of him all cars bar one were on slick tyres and it wasn’t long before I moved through the pack and raced alongside Jack Goff whose Volkswagen CC was also on wets. Now at the front of the pack, I managed to get briefly ahead before Goff fought back. However we both had to contend with Ash Sutton whose Subaru was also on wets but was a lap down. There was a brush between the Infiniti and the Subaru, which didn’t help my race and cost me time against Goff. Determined to catch up again, I pushed harder than ever through the fast right-hander of Copse Corner and the car ran wide onto the slippery, painted kerb and spun like a top. Looking back at the TV footage post-race, and in a move that looked like a well-rehearsed stunt from The Fast and the Furious, the car did a 360 degree spin in front of the pack, but I quickly dropped it into first gear and accelerated away to soon regain my second place.

After the spin, I asked the team how far ahead of third place I was and the answer as 20 seconds. After that, I backed it off and settled for second place rather than risk another moment. In a way I am a bit frustrated because I could have won that race but for the spin, but I am delighted that we have had a second place.

It reflects the hard work done by the team and how far that we have come since July and the debut of the car. To score a podium is beyond our expectations, especially to do it in those conditions. It’s an amazing feeling, and I’d like another podium before the end of the season. This second place was my best finish of the season and marks the best-ever result for the Laser Tools Infiniti Q50, an outstanding achievement for our amazing team that has only operated the car for three months.

The final rounds of the Kwik Fit British Touring Car Championship are at Brands Hatch, Kent, on October 12/13 with all the raceday action shown live on ITV4.
30 Sep 2019