Sam Tordoff endured a tough start to his 2019 Kwik Fit British Touring Car Championship campaign during the season opener at Brands Hatch, with his initial pace going unrewarded on the 1.2mile Indy circuit (April 6/7).
A promising start for the Yorkshireman on his competitive debut in the Cobra Sport AmD AutoAid/RCIB Insurance Honda Civic Type R saw him top the time sheets during the weekend’s first free practice session, followed up with a top-ten lap-time in FP2.
Damp weather led to tricky track conditions in qualifying. After banking a couple of steady lap times in the #600 Civic Type R, Tordoff was caught out on the greasy tarmac and spun off the circuit into the gravel trap at Druids. Falling foul of the new qualifying regulations for 2019, the 29-year-old subsequently lost his best lap time for causing a red flag – eventually ending the session in P10.
Gaining a place on the grid for race 1, following Stephen Jelley’s exclusion for a technical infringement, Tordoff made an excellent start off the line. Unfortunately, contact on his second tour of the circuit broke the rear suspension on the #600 Honda, ending his race on the spot with the Type R stricken in the gravel once more.
Running on the soft-compound tyre option for race 2, Tordoff had a huge task ahead of him on the short Indy circuit. Starting from dead last, the Leeds-based driver made steady progress as the laps unfolded, eventually crossing the line in P19.
Struggling in traffic once more in the final contest of the day, the AmD racer battled hard in the mid-pack, but struggled to find the pace needed to push forward into the points-scoring zone. After a hard-fought 24 laps, Tordoff brought the battle-scarred #600 Civic home in 16th.
“We’ve had a problem with the car today;” commented Tordoff. “We just don’t know what the problem is yet. Something seems to have occurred in race one, or possibly it’s a result of me coming off in qualifying. But it meant that we had no pace on race day.
“We were setting lap-record pace on Saturday, and something has gone wrong since then. We’ve got to go away now and work out what’s happened and make sure it’s all fixed for the next round. We know that there’s nothing fundamentally wrong with the car and nothing wrong with my side of the garage. There’s just something broken from race 1 and we haven’t found it yet.
“Rory had a great weekend, and showed the car is in a good place. I’m delighted for Rory, Shaun and the team on getting their first win. We’ll find the front row at Donington, and start our season off from there.”
Tordoff and the Cobra Sport AmD AutoAid/RCIB Insurance racing team are back in action in two weeks’ time when the Kwik Fit British Touring Car Championship heads to Donington Park on April 27/28 for rounds 4, 5 and 6.