Sam Tordoff enjoyed his most successful weekend of the season during rounds 13, 14 & 15 of the 2019 Kwik Fit British Touring Car Championship with a return to the rostrum at Oulton Park (June 29/30).
The Yorkshireman’s early pace was deservedly rewarded with two top-five finishes, an Independent race win, and third-placed podium in the final race of the fifth BTCC meeting on the picturesque Cheshire circuit.
Setting an early pace during Saturday’s practice sessions, the JCT600-backed racer topped the timing screens during the morning shift, followed with the sixth fastest lap time in FP2. Carrying his consistently strong form into the afternoon qualifying session, a superb flying lap of 1:25.825 was enough to secure a front-row start in P2 – with the #600 Honda missing pole position by a mere 0.027s.
Swamped off the line by the works BMW of Jordan, Cammish’s Honda FK8, Tordoff put up a valiant defence as the trio charged into the first corner. Batting to hold position, the GardX-racer slipped to fourth before a brave lunge through Island Bend from his Cobra Sport AmD AutoAid/RCIB Insurance team-mate dropped him back to fifth. With the field settling into position, the processional nature of the circuit meant Tordoff eventually crossed the line in P5.
After a strong start off the line, an opening lap melee resulted in an early safety appearance in race two. Allowing the lead pack to bunch-up, Tordoff came under immediate pressure from the charging pack as the race restarted. Struggling to replicate his qualifying pace with 30kg of success ballast on-board, the 30-year-old did a sterling job of holding off challenges for the 18-lap contest to claim his second fifth-place finish of the day and third Independent race win of the season.
Starting from seventh on the grid following race three’s reverse grid draw, contact by the race leaders on lap 3 left a huge plume of smoke across the track, with Tordoff one of many drivers forced into taking evasive action. Managing to avoid any contact, the Leeds-based driver emerged in P4 but immediately found himself under unrelenting pressure from Oliphant’s fast-charging works-BMW. An outstanding defensive drive for the full race distance was repaid with a P4 finish, which was later amended to P3 after the race winner was handed a twenty-second penalty.
“Two fifths and an Independent win is a great result and then getting a podium in race 3 a really good way to end the day. We lucked into a few incidents out on track today but you have to be there to pick up the chances when they come along.
“We’re still lacking that little something extra. We’re fighting three BMW’s that are in a league of their own at the moment and the factory Hondas are ahead of us so we’re asking for a little bit more, but that’s the extra bit between a win or not.
“It’s been a positive weekend. We’ve not quite been the fastest but we’ve scored some good points. It’s nice to have a consistent Saturday and Sunday at last and we can go into the summer break happy.
“Looking ahead we’ve got some strong tracks coming up for us. Jack Goff was on pole in this car at Snetterton the last three times in a row. Knockhill will be good for us. We were on pole at Thruxton and will be going back there and Brett Smith took pole in this car at Brands Hatch so as I look to the second half of the season, it will be much stronger for us.
“We’ll be looking to refine the car at the Snetterton test in a couple of weeks. We’ve learned a bit more this weekend so we’ll be putting that into practice, too.”
Tordoff’s excellent weekend of results have helped to propel him up the order in the Championship standings, and he now sits 4th in the Independent Drivers points. The Cobra Sport AmD AutoAid/RCIB Insurance squad also lies 3rd in the overall Teams’ standings and 2nd in the Independents as the BTCC heads into its annual summer break before reconvening at Snetterton on August 3/4.