Speedworks buoyed by progress ahead of trip to Croft


CHRISTIAN Dick is confident Speedworks Motorsport can improve on the previous round’s season-best showing when the Dunlop MSA British Touring Car Championship resumes this weekend.

The team principal watched on as Dave Newsham delivered a sequence of results at Oulton Park that included a record qualifying position – fourth – and a campaign-high race finish of sixth.

The resulting points haul, both for the Inverness-based driver and collectively, was the biggest of term to date too.

That means the Cheshire-based outfit heads north for the fifth round, at Croft, in upbeat mood.

Dick said: “A podium has to be our aim [at Croft]; one can’t be a million miles away now.

“We were relieved [leaving Oulton] because we probably made the biggest strides forward if you look at where we’d been previously in relation to everybody else.

“There’s still work to do in terms of race pace, but it was great to see the car turn its potential into results and for us to be right in the thick of things.”

Newsham was the quickest independent driver in qualifying at Speedworks’ home circuit, classifying his Hughes Safety Showers-backed Toyota ahead of the field’s other Avensis in five of the six sessions.

After placing eighth and sixth in the first two sprints at Oulton Park, he charged from the back of the field following an off in race three to score points.

The 45-year-old attached particular significant to the latter, his first meaningful race run on new option tyres introduced to the series this season.

He said: “I’d managed only a handful of laps on the soft compound in the previous rounds, so it was a bit of a venture into the unknown.

“The car felt great though – the best it had done all weekend – and was still flying at the end of the race.

“If we keep on making this kind of progress, then we’ll surely be winning races before long.”

He arrives in north Yorkshire, where he celebrated a maiden car race win in 2004 in the Scottish Legends series, placed seventh in the Independents Trophy.

Teammate Ollie Jackson celebrated a first points-score since the opening round at Oulton Park, reaching the finish in all three races for the first time this term too.

He battled bad luck to do so – an engine sensor failure during the warm-up for race one forcing him to join two laps adrift from the pit lane.

The Attleborough racer was left to play catch-up in his Toyota again after a spin in the day’s final race, only to recover by taking back nine spots en route to 15th at the flag.

Jackson clocked the fourth fastest lap of the independent drivers on track along the way.

Dick said: “Ollie probably feels he missed out a bit, but appalling luck left him on the back foot. He should be positive about what he achieved afterwards though.

“The challenge now is to pull everything together over a race distance, and not a single lap or two.

“He’ll find that consistency with that bit more experience in the car, I’m sure of it.”

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

Croft hosts three sprint races on Sunday afternoon, with each to be broadcast live on ITV4 and itv.com from 1115.

Words: Andy Simpson. Picture: Matt Sayle Photography.