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ST Blog – Snetterton18/08/15

ST Blog – Snetterton

Snetterton was the venue for the BTCC’s second half of the season. The 6 week mid-season break is usually a chance to relax and get away from the track but not for me! In that time I had raced at Redbull Ring, Austria in the European Le Mans Series, done a BTCC Dunlop Tyre Test at Snetterton and retuned to Snetterton for a GT Cup round! So you could say it wasn’t a break at all but at least I had done plenty of laps which would prove useful over the coming weekend!

I guess the first half of the season has gone well all things considered. I find myself P4 in the championship and to be honest apart from Croft it hasn’t been particularly spectacular. But that just shows the importance of picking up points in a championship like the BTCC where it can all go wrong very quickly.

I arrived at Snetterton not expecting huge things as I anticipated our straight line deficit would hurt us. Nevertheless the car was working well in practice even with 48kg’s of success ballast on and so I felt we would be in the mix for qualifying.

As it happens we were! I didn’t push to the maximum on the first set of tyres and amazingly we were only 3 tenths off pole. I was adamant I had that time in the car and could get further up than P6 we were at the time. Unfortunately clutch failure on my second run in Quali put an end to that straight away. After everyone had done a second run, we slipped to P8 – not a disaster all things considered but I didn’t realise at the time those clutch problems would haunt me the following day…

We replaced the clutch for Race 1 and I lined up P8. I couldn’t get any feel in my replacement clutch and after an average start; my infamous fast-starting teammate Rob Collard got the jump on me to T1. Unfortunately that’s when disaster occurred. Rob cut in front of me and all was fine until I glanced in my mirror at exactly the time when he hit the brakes. Genuinely I could have not timed it any worse. As I was busy checking on where Tom Ingram was behind me, little did I know Rob was braking for T1. I found out a split second later when I ended up firmly in his boot! Amazingly my car was fine but Rob retired on the spot. I couldn’t apologise to him enough afterwards but it was a genuine accident on my part – no intention whatsoever.

The race continued and after some damage colliding with Ingram in the early laps, I decided to forget about the result and use my soft tyres to try get a quick lap in for Race 2 (positions done on race 1 fastest lap). Thankfully I ended up with the second fastest lap of the race and even though I finished Race 1 in 11th place, that lap probably saved my weekend.

We changed to yet another clutch for Race 2 and I lined up P2 alongside Colin Turkington this time with no weight on-board compared to his 75kg. Yet again my start was poor, this time I couldn’t find the biting point, and down I dropped to P4. All was not lost and I sat on Andy Priaulx’s bumper as he attacked Adam Morgan. To be fair to Adam, he didn’t put a foot wrong and had speed in the right places to keep us at bay. Unfortunately for me I had Jason Plato on my bootlid and a few laps from home when Adam and Andy’s fighting baulked me at T6, JP got a good run down the following straight and past he went. We finished 5th at the flag and all important points were scored.

Following a kind reverse grid, I lined up P2 again for the final race of the day determined to get it right this time. Yet another bad start followed (I was at a loss by this point!) and again dropped to P4. The top 4 ran close for the entire race and with very little to separate us apart.

I was annoyed because I had the pace to finish on the podium in Races 2 and 3 but both times my starts let me down. At this level you don’t get second chances and I didn’t make the most of the grid opportunities.

I was really glad to see the back of Snetterton on Sunday night! After 3 clutches, 3 terrible starts and a clash with my teammate it felt as though the weekend had been a disaster. However, the results didn’t really suggest that; 11th, 5th and 4th. Considering this wasn’t going to be a great circuit for us, my point scoring has still left me P4 in the championship.

Before the weekend I was 33 points behind the championship leader. After what felt like a disaster, I’m only 39 points behind the leader. I guess that’s what the BTCC is all about – keeping a low profile and still scoring points even when it’s not going your way!

Next we go to Knockhill where the BMW has a great record and I qualified P2 in 2014. Hopefully we can trim that gap to the championship leader.