A battling performance from Sam Tordoff during rounds 22, 23 and 24 of the Dunlop MSA British Touring Car Championship saw the GardX-backed racer secure a top five finish and double points score on Fife’s Knockhill circuit over the bank holiday weekend (August 25/26).
Heading into the eighth meeting of the season in confident form off the back of a competitive Rockingham contest just three weeks earlier, Tordoff’s efforts were rewarded with a solid haul of points on the rain-lashed Scottish track.
The Yorkshireman found himself in unfamiliar territory following Saturday’s ultra-competitive qualifying session. With over half of the grid beating the incumbent lap record and the top 15 positions constantly shifting throughout the 30 minute session Tordoff’s best lap translated into a 16th place start for race one, despite being just 0.465 seconds off pole.
Sunday’s opening race brought the forecasted heavy rain downfall to the Fife circuit with it, making for very tricky racing conditions. A strong start by Tordoff off the line saw him move past Lloyd’s Honda on the opening lap, but with poor visibility and a packed grid on the narrow and twisty track making overtaking nigh impossible, the #600 Ford Focus RS eventually crossed the line in P17.
With the rain showing no sign of let-up, race two delivered Tordoff’s first points finish of the weekend. Managing to avoid a number of on-track incidents during the early opening laps, the Motorbase man had battled his way up into 14th by the mid-way point and second safety car period. Acquiring another place to take 13th on the restart, Tordoff was making steady progress through the field before the race was red-flagged when Smelt crashed out into the barriers on lap 20.
Following a post-race penalty for top finishers Sutton and Ingram for ride height infringements, the entire grid moved up two places for the final race of the day – promoting Tordoff to 11th. With the rain finally abated, the drying track conditions produced a dramatic close to the weekend’s action.
A storming charge off the line netted Tordoff 10th on the first tour of the circuit and the 29-year-old had already made his way up to 8th before the safety car was deployed on lap 3. A side-by-side battle with local hero Butcher kept the crowds entertained on the restart, as the duo traded paint and places for a number laps, before Tordoff closed in on Cammish, showing the works-Honda driver a clean pair of heels as he took 7th spot on lap 12. A final push in the closing minutes saw him claim 5th at the chequered flag, a well-earned reward from a hard fought trio of races.
“Overall it’s been another frustrating weekend yet again;” commented Tordoff. “We weren’t fast enough on Saturday in qualifying and we paid the price on Sunday because whilst we had a good car in the wet, we were just embroiled in a fight constantly in all three races. We didn’t get to the bottom of the car in the dry and we didn’t have the chance to correct that on race day as it was so wet.
“Visibility was terrible and everyone was defending like their life depended on it so it was very difficult to make any progress in the first two races. Race 3 was some consolation and we got the chance to show the pace of the car a little bit with a clear track. The car was much more competitive and we managed to come forward and get some points out of it. It’s just a bit of déjà vu of what could have been again.
The weekend’s results have consolidated Tordoff’s 6th place position in the Independent Teams’ standings and elevated him to 11th in the overall Championship ahead of the penultimate round of the season at Silverstone on September 15/16.
“On paper Silverstone is supposed to be our best track of the year so we have high expectations heading there and we need to deliver;” concluded the Yorkshireman. “We’ve got six races left so that’s six opportunities to grab a win or podium at the very least. We’ve still not managed to tie-up a strong qualifying and race day together this season. Silverstone seems the best place to do that.”