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2018 BTCC – Donington Park Rounds 4/5/624/05/18
Sam Tordoff was cruelly denied a return to the rostrum this weekend after an electrical issue and two DNF’s turned a promising start to rounds 4, 5 & 6 of the Dunlop MSA British Touring Car Championship into a points-salvaging mission.
The 29-year-old’s undeniable pace and race-craft was evident all weekend, but regrettably another run of incredible bad luck saw the GardX-backed driver collect just five championship points from the season’s second gathering.
Topping the timing screens during Saturday’s qualifying session, Tordoff looked set to clinch pole position in the #600 Ford Focus RS before a late red flag and subsequent restart saw him drop to P3 for the opening race.
Making a strong start from the second row, Tordoff battled hard for third and a maiden podium of the season seemed to be in the bag before disaster struck on lap 10. Having struggled with gear issues in the opening laps, an unexplained electrical issue resulted in a sudden loss of power and the Focus limped back into the pits – recording the first DNF of the day.
A quick turnaround by the Motorbase crew saw the Focus RS join the back of the grid for race 2, and their hard work was repaid with an outstanding drive from 31st to 11th. Tordoff finally got the chance to showcase his title contending pace and race-craft as he carved his way through the pack, taking his first points finish of the weekend and the Dunlop Forever Forward award.
Running on the less favourable hard compound tyre for race 3, Tordoff got off to a blistering start. The Yorkshireman had already begun picking off places on the opening lap before unavoidable contact fired the GardX Racing Focus off the track and out of the race; without even completing a full tour of the circuit.
Sam Tordoff said; “We got off to a good start in race 1, but then developed a problem on lap 2 which affected the gear change. I managed to figure it out we were just as quick as everyone else despite losing time and I thought I could rescue a result and drag it out for the podium. Unfortunately the car just stopped on the exit to the old hairpin and that just about wrote the weekend off.
“Race two was an exciting race and we were quick. It was a bit of a bittersweet result really as we shouldn’t have been starting from the back but we were happy with the performance of the car and we managed to work our way into the reversed grid draw;” he added.
“Typically, lady luck wasn’t on our side again, and we missed the rub of the draw. We always knew that race 3 was going to be a tough call on the hard tyre which has struggled all weekend. We got off to a great start and I was sure that we could have at least held onto a top ten finish but we got taken out on the first lap and it was game over - again.
“I’m starting to feel like the unluckiest man on the grid at the moment. Yet again we’re super-fast and have nothing to show for it. We’re doing everything right, but it’s just not going our way at all. But we’ll dust ourselves off in time for Thruxton and hopefully that’ll be a turning point and the podiums will start to flow!”
After two very challenging weekends marking the opening of his BTCC season, Tordoff’s remarkable performances have yet to deliver the deserved results, but he and the Team GardX Racing with Motorbase squad now have a three week break to regroup and will look to restart their Championship challenge at Thruxton when the Dunlop MSA British Touring Car Championship returns on May 19/20.