The Dunlop MSA British Touring Car Championship headed to Thruxton, Andover for rounds 7, 8 & 9 of the Championship. Thruxton is without doubt the fastest track in the UK where BTCC cars average 110mph – this despite two second gear chicanes!
Dave has never driven a touring car round this circuit before – his last race was in the Clio Cup early in his Championship winning 2010 season. Also worth mentioning is that as well as never having driven a touring car around the daunting Thruxton circuit before, Dave has also never driven his VXR Vectra in the wet before either….
Dave needed laps, and lots of them to get used to the car in wet conditions. FP1 was frustrating, as he spent most of it in the pits with faulty lights, then the battery was low making the car misfire with the low voltage. P8 was not bad considering.
FP2 was much better; Dave had no issues and went P5. All of the cars ahead of him were the NGTC (New Generation Touring Car) which have substantially bigger tyres. He was the quickest of the older spec S2000 cars which showed that there was nothing wrong with Dave or his VXR pace round Thruxton…
The rain had thankfully stopped and a drying track greeted the drivers. Yep, you guessed it, another new experience for Dave as he has never driven this car with slick tyres around here… The track was tricky as it was still wet in some places. Dave picks up the commentary:
“Out for a lap to see what the track was like, then in for new tyres. Time for courage, and lots of it! I start my first flying lap, then halfway round I see smoke coming from my bonnet, and oil warning on my dash. No, not again! Thinking this was my only chance to record a reasonable lap, I kept pushing whilst talking to my team about the engine. They tell me to pit – I think ‘not on your life!’ – I complete the lap and go P5, then slowed the car right down and crawled back to the pits. Upon investigation, it appeared that water had mixed with the oil in the engine causing it to fail. This was my new engine which had been replaced after Donington’s race three blow up. As this transpired to be a manufacturing fault, the engine would thankfully be replaced under warranty.
With half the session left I presumed my single lap time would plummet as it was a long way from perfect. I was changed and back down to the pit wall before the session had finished. To my astonishment, we remained in P5!”
On this evidence, let’s hope Mother Nature would give Dave a dry day race day…
The weather was even wetter and very cold… Red lights go out to start race one, not a bad start from Dave. Ahead Plato and Jordon come together and Dave passes them both on the way to the complex.
“I am up to fourth and go round the outside of Rob Collard (8), then exiting the complex, I get better drive and pass Frank Wrathall to take second place. Ahead Matt Jackson was away, and would complete the first lap nearly three seconds up the road. I get my head down, and try to reel him in. Lap four, I set the fastest lap, and I’m now just two seconds behind Matt. Then the gap stabilised. I think he could see me coming and upped his pace. There was no sign of any cars in my mirrors; we had very quickly dropped the rest of the field. Behind me was Plato, and he was some six seconds back. The rain increased, rivers were forming on the track now, and I was aquaplaning all over the place. I decided to reduce the pace rather than fly off the circuit. Lap twelve and the safety car was deployed as Griffin had aquaplaned off the circuit hitting the barriers at high speed. Talking to him later, he says that it was an 8G impact. After circulating behind the safety car, the red flags were out to stop the race with two laps remaining, handing me my best BTCC result of 2nd place.”
After race one, changes to the car would be made to try and look after the front tyres better, as there was no tread left.
Starting this race from where he finished race one, it was a front row start, but due to the conditions it was a rolling start from behind the safety car. Slotting behind Matt Jackson, Dave found it difficult to stay with him. Lap 5, and Shedden passed him, two laps later Plato was past, then Wrathall and Neal went by. Now in P6 Rob Collard was more than eight seconds behind, so 6th place finish it was. It was clear that the NGTC’s tyres had a huge advantage over the S2000 tyre, as all the cars that had passed Dave were the former.
The reverse grid gave Dave P4. The track was drying, and the sun was trying to come out. Considering the tyre wear issues Dave was experiencing he opts for slicks on the front.
“On the formation lap, it looked like slick tyres were the way to go. However as soon as the race started so did the rain – by the bucketful!! With zero grip I plummet backwards but stick with it as you never know – it could stop raining… then a potential safety car and we are right in the mix again. However by lap seven, the leaders come up to lap me – time to pit for full wets. I’m two laps down now as I exit the pits behind the leaders. I actually start to close in on them for the remaining laps, setting the third fastest lap time behind the two work’s Hondas who were in a class of their own. What could have been, as I was more than one second faster than Matt Jackson in the next best S2000 chassis car…”
Dave has climbed one place in the championship to seventh. No question, there is more to come, Dave just needs a little more luck, and I think he and his team are due some…
There is a six week gap till the next round of the championship held at Oulton Park, Cheshire on 10th June. Let’s hope when we resume racing, Dave still has this pace. Having secured one pole position, a third and a second place podium finish, the only one of the set missing is a win. Here’s hoping!
“Massive thank you to all my sponsors:
Clarke Energy, Alps, IMSM, Solution X, North East Reprographic, HSPC, Automatic Retailing, Atkins Bland, Karcher Center, Handy Distribution, PHP Lettings, Highland Network, Macrae & Dick, Macpherson Joinery, Johnston Carmichael, Highland Arena, Towergate Moray Firth Insurance, MacBride Signs, One Estates, Britvic, Switzer Performance, LPP Custom, Norscott Vending Services Limited, Julie Benson and Lynn Gartland.”
“Without these guys, we wouldn’t be racing, and mixing it with the multi-million pound teams. It truly is a dream come true!”
Dave Newsham Racing