Pole, points and frustration for Speedworks at Snetterton


SPEEDWORKS celebrated only its second pole position during Sunday’s Dunlop MSA British Touring Car Championship’s sixth round at Snetterton, although a maiden podium finish continues to elude the Cheshire outfit.

Dave Newsham’s storming drive through the field in race two was rewarded, following the reverse-grid draw, with first place at the start for the concluding sprint at the Norfolk circuit.

However his hopes of repeating history – the Inverness-based ace toasted a first race win in the series after starting from the front row at last year’s corresponding meeting – were dashed following a first lap off that ended early his involvement.

Teammate Ollie Jackson celebrated his best set of results since switching to Speedworks shortly before the start of the season, doubling his personal tally in the overall drivers’ championship after a pair of points-scoring finishes at his adopted home circuit.

“There is a sensation of what might have been,” reflected team principal Christian Dick afterwards.

“We lacked a little bit of luck at important moments, but it’s important at the same time to pull out the positives.

“Dave again showed that the Toyota has the necessary pace, while Ollie quickly put behind him the disappointment he felt after qualifying to put three solid finishes together.”

Newsham’s weekend had started in style, setting the fourth fastest time in each of Saturday’s free practice sessions.

He followed that with the ninth quickest circuit during qualifying, only for a clutch fault on his Toyota to cost him more than half a dozen places on race one’s opening lap.

The 46-year-old scrambled back inside the top 12, although an attempt to pass Jack Goff (RCIB Insurance Racing Vauxhall Insignia) ended with his car running wide into the gravel after slight contact. He was 18th by the time the chequered flag fell.

In the second sprint, the undoubted highlight of his weekend, he occupied eighth place on track at the finish following a determined drive through the field.

The day’s finale brought with it an enforced retirement following contact with Matt Neal (Honda Yuasa Racing Team Civic) as he attempted to move past.

“It’s so frustrating,” rued Newsham.

“We’ve proven the car’s speed this weekend, but lacked the luck and reliability to turn that into the right results.

“I was fired up after finding out I’d start race three from pole, only to discover a problem with the brakes on my way to the start-line.

“That cost me on the opening lap, during which I was hit at least once.

“Matt [Neal] seemed to make a mistake and his line faltered, so I moved into the space he left only for him to slam shut the door. There was nothing I could do after that.”

Jackson, irked to qualify only on the grid’s ninth row, recovered to collect points in two of Sunday’s three races for the first time this season.

His 11th place in the second sprint marked the 29-year-old’s best result since the campaign’s curtain-raiser at Brands Hatch.

He ran inside the top 10 early on in race three only to spin at Riches on the restart after the field had trailed the safety car for three laps.

The Reigate-born racer, forced to join again the action from the back, made it to 13th position at the flag.

A clutch problem at the beginning of the day’s opener left him 24th after the first lap, although he climbed the order steadily to narrowly miss out on a points-score after crossing the line 16th.

He said: “I’ll feel a lot happier driving home after this round than I did the previous one, that’s for sure.

“The car felt much better in terms of its performance, so it’s annoying I couldn’t qualify further up the field.

“Had I done, then a couple of top 10 finishes might have been possible.”

Speedworks’ position – sixth – in the Independent Teams Trophy remains unchanged, as does their eighth place in the HiQ Teams Championship.

The series resumes at Knockhill, in Scotland, on August 24.

Words: Andy Simpson. Picture: Matt Sayle Photography.

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