Dunlop MSA British Touring Car Championship – Rounds 13, 14 & 15, Croft 19 June 2011
The MSA British Touring Car Championship headed to Croft, near Darlington for rounds 13, 14, & 15. Dave was looking forward to more time in ‘The Wasp’ as the media have nicknamed his STR Seat. With a further turbo boost reduction for all turbocharged cars insisted upon by the powers that be, ‘in the name of equalising performance with none turbo’s’ this was an unwelcome addition to the race weekend’s pre-race preparations designed to limit the performance of the STR Seat.
Dave awoke to the sound of heavy rain falling on his Motorhome roof, wet conditions it was for first practice.
He headed to the track and after a couple of laps, Dave started to push. Through the fast ‘Jim Clarke Esses’ at over 100mph, the car got away from him and before he knew it he was spinning down the track, with cars going each side of him! This could have been a very premature end to his race weekend and the race report could have ended there, however the car eventually came to rest just off the black stuff! With a bad smell emitting from Dave’s race suit, he re-started the car and was pleased to find the car seemed to be undamaged.
Soon after, the car started to mis-fire, so he headed back into the pit lane. The fault was diagnosed to be a faulty kill switch, probably rain getting into it. With only a handful of laps remaining, it was a session to forget.
In the second session, Dave would show his pace and would be 8th fastest on the drying track.
A dry track greeted the drivers; however the weather could turn at any moment. Dave got a good banker (but by no means perfect) lap on his first set of tyres and would be in 10th place when he came in for another set of new tyres.
Dave didn’t improve his time on his second run and the rain started to fall. Still on slicks, Dave had another go at it, but the track conditions had deteriorated, and Dave was disappointed to see P14 on his pit board. That was his best qualifying position of the year, but it wasn’t good enough for Dave… Still, to be only two places back from his team-mate wasn’t too bad an effort.
Once again, difficult track conditions and although it wasn’t raining the track was wet. Dave opted for slick front, wet rear tyres. On lap one; Dave could feel vibrations from the front of his car that would get progressively worse… He had felt this before, and experience told him that he had yet another puncture. Dave could not believe his luck….
It turned out that he had run over debris as the damage was right in the middle of the tyre’s contact patch.
Into the pits for another tyre – He headed back on track just as the leaders were passing putting him a lap down. Dave spent the next couple of laps getting out of the way. Finishing last was not the ideal start to his meeting, but fortunately five cars had failed to finish which put him P19 for Race Two.
The track was damp, but drying quickly. Slick tyres all round was the only choice, but it would be tricky for a few laps.
Dave made a fantastic start, and passed an unbelievable seven cars on the opening lap. Two more places were gained round the outside of the Jim Clarke Esses, Tim Harvey ‘race commentator’ commented on Dave’s bravery as he drove through puddles at over 100mph with his slick tyres. Soon after, Dave’s team mate clipped the tyre wall through the chicane breaking his steering and bringing out the safety car. Safety car pulled in and
Dave enjoyed a great battle with Alex MacDowell (20) in the work’s Chevrolet and Tom Onslow-Cole (4) in the work’s Aon Ford. With a great move, Dave passed Tom and found himself in 7th place. With a huge gap to the next bunch of cars ahead, he gave it everything. Dave was lapping almost two seconds a lap quicker than the work’s Honda of Gordon Shedden (52), Andrew Jordon (77), Matt Jackson (7) and Tom Chilton (5). Into the final lap, and Dave had bridged the nine second gap in just five laps, however a very quick BMW driven by Nick Foster (18) was catching Dave at a similar rate. Penultimate corner and Dave was on the pack ahead, however Nick with an amazing amount of grip simply drove round the outside of Dave and had the line into the final corner, Dave was pushed back to 8th place which was where he would finish. To add insult to injury, P7 was drawn for pole position for the last race of the day….. If only, eh?
‘’I really enjoyed that race, we had good pace setting the 4th fastest time when the tyres were good, and being one of the quickest at the end of the race too. I was struggling for grip, but obviously less so than the guys ahead of me. It’s just a pity Nick got me on the final corner, as I would have had pole position for race three.
But I am proud of my drive, I think I proved to people that I will be a force to be recond with given a little more time…’’
After looking at the data with the engineers, and listening the Dave’s feedback, it was decided to make a few changes to the car for the final race to try and extract more speed.
Starting on the outside, Dave made an ok start, but couldn’t get to the inside line for turn one… Dave lost a place, then two more into the next turn as he was shuffled wide.
Dave could not feel any difference to the car, but his lap times were down and he was falling back off the leading pack. As the tyres wore, Dave got one place back from Onslow-Cole and then set about closing in on his team mate Tom Chilton. With 5 laps to go, Dave was on his rear bumper, however when they got to the straights, Tom just pulled away from Dave and he couldn’t get close enough to make a pass, so had to settle for 10th place at the finish.
It’s a long break now till Snetterton on the 7th August. Dave will take a holiday to fully re-charge. One thing is for certain, Dave and his promo team need to work very hard on getting financial support to make sure he can continue to the end of the season. As it stands, it is doubtful…