Dunlop MSA British Touring Car Championship – Rounds 4, 5 & 6 Donington Park 15 April 2012

The Dunlop MSA British Touring Car Championship headed to Donington Park, for rounds 4, 5 & 6 of the Championship, a track most drivers like but one that has never been kind to Dave…

24 cars were present and with a bumper crowd that was up by 30% on 2011 there was a real buzz around the paddock, and Dave was one of the reasons behind it due to his recent successes. As a direct result, the cameras from ITV and Louise Goodman would be following Dave and ES Racing’s progress all weekend.

Free Practice

Dave was quickly on the pace in practice finishing FP1 in 7th place. FP2 would see Dave shoot to the top of the timesheets and stay there for the duration, with the fastest time of the day.

Qualifying

Before qualifying the temperature dropped, the clouds darkened and the wind started to blow. With such a cold day, the plan was to get Dave’s rear tyres warmed up on the front of the car for a couple of laps, then swap them to the rear to have a nice stable car for his hot laps.

With the tyre swap completed, Dave headed back on track and then – the rain started to fall! Dave tried to get some hot laps in, but the track had become damp. With moisture on the surface of the track P11 was the best Dave could manage. He headed back to the pit lane and it looked like the session would be over. Fortunately, after sitting for 10 minutes there was a lull in the rain, and Dave decided to try one last attempt at bettering his times.

The track was far from perfect, but he did beat his time on the final lap of the session, elevating him to P7. Phew….!! The top teams sent helicopters up wind to see if and when the rain would come – Dave and his team could only dream of having this information!

Race One

Starting from 7th on the grid, Dave made the worst start of his BTCC career. He almost stalled and subsequently dropped down to approx 12th place… Fortunately, fortune favours the brave and as he shot down the outside into turn one and regained three places.

He would complete the first lap where he started in 7th place. Lap 8, and Dave was all over the back of early race leader Rob Collard (8). Dave shot down the inside into turn one, however he went a little wide and Andrew Jordon got alongside him. Side by side down ‘Crainer Curves’ at 130mph, Dave opted to let Andrew go into the Old Hairpin as you can’t go side by side through there.

Planning to tuck in behind him, when bang! Rob Collard ran into the side of Dave sending him off track. Now down to 8th place, Dave was not pleased! Dave quickly reeled Rob in, but he was defending hard. On lap 10 Dave passed Rob and immediately started to pull away. Andrew was three seconds up the field by now, and running a similar pace. Dave crossed the line in 7th place.

Race Two

Making a better start this time from his finishing position of 7th, he completed the first lap up in 6th place. Lap 6 was the turning point of the race. Andrew got alongside Tom Onslow-Cole and Dave saw an opportunity to get by Tom at the same time into ‘MacLeans’. Tom squeezed Dave to the inside, making him just clip the grass on the inside of the corner, locking his right front wheel, this momentary loss of grip made Dave skittle into the back of Andrew Jordon sending him sideways and wide. Dave was up to 4th place, but not the way he planned it…

With a 3 second gap to Race One winner Matt Jackson, Dave put his head down and started to close in on the podium spot. For the next 5 laps, Dave was the fastest car on the track and with 2 laps to go was right with Jackson. However Jackson’s Ford Focus is the fastest car in a straight line and Dave was never close enough for a safe overtake, and with the Jordon incident on his mind, he opted to settle for 4th place. 

After the race, Dave and his team manager were summoned to the officials to explain his move on Jordon. Dave explained what happened, and the TV footage backed this up. Dave was told to behave himself, and with a slap on the wrist was on his way… Prior to this Dave went to see Jordon to apologise. The apology was not accepted by a very ‘put-out’ Andrew Jordan however he did call Dave as he was on his way home to apologise for not accepting Dave’s apology. So, all’s well that ends well….

Race Three

P6 was drawn for the reverse grid, which rewarded Dave with P3, right behind – yup, you’ve guessed it – Andrew Jordan with his Pirtek team-mate, Jeff Smith on pole. Dave made a good start unlike Smith who was swallowed up by the pack… He held his position to the first corner as both Jordon and Jackson got sideways on cold tyres, gifting Dave first place with the fast starting BMW of Collard hard on his tail.

Lap three and Jackson was pushing Dave now, and he was forced to defend his position. The car did not feel fast enough down the straights and he was a sitting duck. Jackson used his superior speed to blast past down the straight, Collard soon followed, then Gordon Shedden and Jason Plato. Dave’s car was getting slower and slower. With two laps to go, Dave could see oil and smoke coming from the engine; he quickly killed the engine, and rolled into the pit lane. His engine was finished as it had reached very high temperatures.

Another race of what could have been, as Tony Gilham finished 3rd after winner Matt Jackson was excluded due to being over the Turbo Boost limit. Dave was fending Tony off with his slowing engine, so had he not had the engine issue another podium would have been on the cards.

As it is, Dave has dropped one place to 8th in the Championship and he has only finished four of the first six races. The two races that he hadn’t finished (remember the Plato incident at Brands?) could and should have been podiums. Assuming that they had of been, Dave would now be third overall and right on the heels of work’s drivers Jason Plato and Matt Neal…

Instead, he has a very large engine bill to squeeze his already tight budget!

The next rounds of the 2012 Dunlop MSA British Touring Car Championship will be held at Thruxton, next weekend 29 April. Dave loves this track – it’s the fastest on the calendar and he has always gone well there…

You can watch the action live on ITV4, ITV4 HD from approx 11.00am.

“A massive thank you to all my sponsors for your continued support. Regards Dave”

IMSM would like to wish Dave and the team all the best for Thruxton this weekend!

 

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