Strong start for AmDtuning.com at Brands Hatch
The West Thurrock-based team went into the season-opener keen to build on the encouraging performance shown during pre-season testing with its turbo-powered Volkswagen Golf with newly-signed driver – Attleborough-based Ollie Jackson – looking to finish inside the BTCC points for the first time.
Having performed solidly in Saturday’s two practice sessions, Ollie qualified 16th on the grid, just 1.1 seconds away from pole position around the tight and twisty 1.2 mile circuit. Making forward progress when the opening race got underway, he crossed the line in 13th place having set a best lap time just 0.6 seconds down on race winner Rob Collard.
Under the revised scoring system in place in the BTCC this season, Ollie also scored his first points in the series in the process.
Race two saw another impressive performance from the AmDtuning.com Golf as Ollie worked his way into the top ten to secure a fine eighth place finish; which then resulted in him being drawn on pole for the final race of the weekend.
Aware of the need to stay out of trouble at the start, Ollie slipped back to fourth on the opening lap but was keeping pace with the cars ahead until the Ford of Mat Jackson dropped fluid on the run-up to Druids on lap three.
Unable to stop the car when he hit the brakes, Ollie slid off into the gravel and although he managed to keep the car out of the barriers, he was then collected by two of his rivals who went off at the same time. The resultant damage prevented him from taking the restart after the race was red-flagged.
Despite that, Ollie ends the weekend twelfth in the championship standings and tenth amongst the independent drivers.
“It’s a bit gutting it ended as it did, but overall it was a good weekend,” he said. “We should really have been in the top ten in qualifying but I just didn’t get the lap in. I made progress in race one and to then get my first top ten finish in race two was a great result.
“From pole, I didn’t expect to stay at the front in race three but I felt we could have finished in the top five or six. I was keeping pace with the guys ahead but then when I touched the brakes on the way up to Druids, I was a complete passenger. I kept it out of the barriers and could have taken the restart but other cars followed me into the gravel and that was what did the damage.
“We’ve scored points in two of the races and shown what the car can do, so now we have to just push for more at Donington Park.”
Although sharing the disappointment of race three, team boss Shaun Hollamby was also pleased with a weekend that ends with AmDtuning.com sitting ninth in the HiQ Teams’ Championship and eighth in the Independents’ Team Trophy.
“We’ve ended the weekend with a lot of damage but overall we can be happy with the performance we have shown,” he said. “We’ve had good pace in the car and there is still a load more to come. We’ve scored points and picked up a top ten finish, and the accident in race three is just one of those things that unfortunately happens. We’ve got two weeks to repair the damage and come back fighting next time out.
“The whole team has been buzzing this weekend, and Chris Tweed and the boys have done a fantastic job on improving the Golf over the winter. We wanted more reliability and more straight-line speed and have shown both, so I think we can hope for plenty more points from this little Golf as the season goes on.”