West Surrey Racing walked away from the opening rounds of the Dunlop MSA British Touring Car Championship with mixed feelings after securing a double podium in the final day encounter around Brands Hatch.
Entering the weekend with optimism after featuring prominently on-track during pre-season, the Sunbury-based outfit saw competitive showings from all three of their drivers Sam Tordoff, Jack Goff and Rob Collard.
Emerging as the highest-placed BMW in qualifying, Tordoff was on the pace from the outset of the weekend but found himself out of luck with contact blighting his progress in race one. Charging through the pack in round two set the Yorkshireman up for pole position in the final 24-lapper however Adam Morgan would prevail; although the four-time race winner hounded the Mercedes to the flag.
“It was a difficult start to race day with the spin in Race One and that put me on the back foot,” explained Tordoff. “If there was a plus to take away from it, it was that we were then ballast-free on the soft tyre in Race Two, and our plan to take it easy early on and manage the tyres worked exactly as we planned. The race came to us as it went on and to get into the top 10 and secure pole for Race Three was ideal.
“I got a good start when the lights went out, but it takes time to get the heat into the tyres so I lost out to Adam Morgan early on. The tyres came to us towards the end, but yellow flags at Turn One for a car in the gravel worked against us. However, it’s good to start the year with a podium, which meant the weekend ended well.”
Collard’s weekend was a tale of two halves with the Hampshire-based racer sixth in race one and challenging for the lead on lap two of the second race. Things however were to change when contact with Tom Ingram sent the #100 machine tumbling down the order and leaving him to battle through the pack to sixth before the day was out.
“After qualifying, I had work to do but we also knew that the BMW had good race pace and would be strong when the lights went out,” he said. “I felt that it was realistic to aim for a top-six position and that was exactly what we got, so everything was going to plan. The start in race two was fantastic and the car felt great. Going into Paddock, I got up the inside of Tom Ingram and the move was on going into Druids. Sadly he turned in and put me into a spin so from there, it was a case of doing what I could with a car that wasn’t at its best.
“Race Three was interesting I did more than I expected with the soft tyre, although I think the pace was there to do even better without traffic. Overall, two top sixes is a good end result but I can’t deny I’m disappointed to miss out on a potential win in Race Two. On the plus side, the car is clearly a step forwards from last year, and it bodes well for the rest of the season.”
For Goff, his rear-wheel-drive debut in the series brought with it more silverware at Brands Hatch – a circuit that has become somewhat of a happy hunting ground in the past. Racing inside the top ten all weekend, the 25-year-old remained a constant threat in race three to clinch his first podium for the team.
Reflecting on his weekend, Goff said: “I made a good start to the opening race to get up into the top six, but unfortunately I was hung out to dry and slipped back down the order after a touch at Clearways. However, for my first race in the BMW, it felt comfortable and we were well-placed on the grid for Race Two. Running on the soft tyre, our plan was to take it easy early on. I then found myself stuck in a train of cars and we made up places where we could to take seventh. And in Race Three it was great to step onto the podium because it’s what we’re always aiming for on a race weekend.”
PHOTO CREDIT: Jakob Ebrey Photography