Speedworks targeting final flourish after bruising Silverstone showdown
Speedworks Motorsport saw its pace and potential frustrated by a number of over-aggressive adversaries as the Dunlop MSA British Touring Car Championship called into the ‘Home of British Motorsport’ – but after digging deep to secure three points-scoring finishes at Silverstone, the team has its sights firmly set on a stirring season finale at Brands Hatch GP.
Having clinched its breakthrough podium three weeks earlier at Rockingham, Speedworks travelled to Silverstone in bullish mood and ready to renew battle with its rivals in the immensely popular, ITV4 live-televised BTCC – commonly regarded as the world’s premier and most fiercely-disputed tin-top series and featuring some of the finest touring car protagonists on the planet.
A promising run through free practice paved the way to seventh position in qualifying for last year’s standout rookie Tom Ingram behind the wheel of the Northwich, Cheshire-based outfit’s Hughes Safety Showers-backed Toyota Avensis – a scant tenth-of-a-second shy of the front row of the grid amongst the 30 high-calibre contenders.
From there, the 22-year-old British Racing Drivers’ Club (BRDC) SuperStar fought hard in the opening encounter, surviving an assault from the BMW of Rob Collard that cost him some ground to take the chequered flag a competitive ninth – Speedworks’ 17th top ten finish of 2015 as Ingram wound up barely two seconds adrift of the rostrum.
Unfortunately, set-up changes ahead of race two in an effort to better preserve the softer-compound tyres backfired, leaving the KX Akademy graduate and MSA Academy member facing a rearguard action. From 15th on the grid, a dogged defence yielded a clutch of points for 13th place.
In the last contest of the day, Ingram and the Avensis unleashed a strong turn-of-speed to infiltrate the top ten once more – lapping faster than the leader along the way – but several forceful overtaking attempts by Aiden Moffat’s Mercedes tipped the Toyota sideways and tested its driver’s car control to the max.
The upshot was 11th position – Speedworks’ 22nd points score from 25 starts this year – to consolidate the squad’s eighth spot in the Teams’ standings as it advanced to an excellent third in the Independents’ Trophy. With only Brands Hatch now remaining on the calendar in a fortnight’s time, team principal Christian Dick is optimistic of concluding what has been an impressive campaign with a final flourish.
“The car showed good speed all weekend,” he affirmed. “We were within literally hundredths-of-a-second of being on row two again in qualifying like we were at Rockingham, but we were still very pleased with seventh place as it’s so easy to lose just a tenth here or there and that would have put us well down the order.
“The nature of Silverstone’s short and compact National Circuit invariably produces close racing – and that in-turn inevitably generates a degree of contact, which we all accept as part-and-parcel of the BTCC. It was just unfortunate that the cards didn’t fall our way when it came to some of the on-track incidents on this occasion, a few of which were definitely a little over-the-limit.
“In both the first and third races, we were on the receiving end of some questionably robust moves and lost places as a result, and in race two we went too conservative on the set-up which made for a struggle.
“That meant the results didn’t show exactly what we were capable of, but the timesheets prove the pace was there. It’s rare that you get much clear air around Silverstone as the field is always so tight, but when Tom did have a gap ahead of him, he was immediately able to punch in some very quick times. The Avensis’ potential is palpable, and that is very encouraging looking forward.
“The aim now has to be to try to end the season in style at Brands Hatch. There are several teams and drivers with a lot of pressure on their shoulders and plenty at stake, whereas we have nothing to lose. We’ll be carrying zero ballast and Tom achieved his best result of the year there in 2014 – so we’re definitely aiming high!”