Sam Tordoff once again found himself on the wrong side of lady luck at the weekend, with mechanical gremlins derailing his championship campaign during rounds 10, 11 and 12 of the Dunlop MSA British Touring Car Championship at Oulton Park (June 9/10).
The 29-year-old delivered a near perfect lap in Saturday’s qualifying session. Taking an early pole position on his third flying lap the GardX-backed driver was eventually beaten to the top of the timing screens by Matt Simpson, and settled in P2, just 0.243 seconds off pole – making him the highest ranking qualifier of the season so far.
Starting from the front row for the second time this year, on the less-favourable soft compound tyre, the #600 Ford Focus RS got slightly bogged down and dropped to P3 off the line. An outstanding defensive drive followed, with Tordoff holding off a persistent challenge from Jordan’s fast-charging BMW for an incredible 5 laps before succumbing to the former champion on lap 8.
A late resurgence as the softer tyre came into play saw the Yorkshireman close the gap to Jordan and Chilton but without enough laps remaining he just missed out on a podium spot, crossing the line in 4th.
Free of the option tyre for race 2, Tordoff then had 48kg of success ballast to contend with and the GardX Focus lost a couple of places to the lighter BMW and Hondas. Determined to keep a second strong points haul on the cards; Tordoff defended hard against the charging pack and looked set to secure a top six finish before disaster struck on lap 12 when an engine fuel system component failure caused a fuel fire in the #600 Focus RS.
Although the Leeds-based driver escaped unscathed, the resulting damage meant that he was forced to withdraw from the remainder of the fourth BTCC meeting of the season.
“I’m not sure what else we can do at the moment;” commented Tordoff. “We were super-fast once again. We had a great qualifying result and race 1 went well and I feel sure that we would have been in the mix in races 2 and 3 had we not had the failure that led to the fire.
“It’s not something that you can plan for;” he added. “It’s just unfortunately yet another unforeseen incident that’s ruined our weekend. It’ something that’s never happened before so I can’t blame the team for something that’s never broken before, but it seems to be happening to me each time.”
“We’ll just keep being fast and hopefully our luck will turn.”
Despite suffering another torrid weekend of bad luck, Tordoff’s excellent qualifying performance and race 1 result managed to salvage 13 points for his 2018 championship campaign and he now sits 12th in the overall standings and 8th in the Independents’.
The Dunlop MSA British Touring Car Championship returns in two weeks’ time at Croft in North Yorkshire as the season reaches the half-way point, with Tordoff hoping that his local home circuit proves to be the turning point in what has been a taxing season so far.