Jack Clarke enjoys best BTCC weekend so far
Jack Clarke enjoyed his strongest BTCC event to date with two points finishes and some fantastic racing in the mid-pack around the tight and undulating Knockhill circuit last weekend.
Not only is Jack making his first foray into touring car racing in 2014 he is also having to reacclimatise himself to a number of tracks around the UK. Knockhill was no exception as the Surrey-based driver had only driven the Fife circuit once before, in a Formula BMW single-seater back in 2006.
As the BTCC cars thundered around the 1.3 mile ribbon of tarmac on a drying track, Clarke posted one of his best Free Practice results of the season with a respectable 14th in the opening session.
With 31 cars circulating during qualifying Clarke’s attempt to record a clear lap proved elusive. The young gun struggled to get the tyres up to operating temperature quick enough and he was eventually frustrated to end up down in 23rd.
After an early spin in race one, Clarke showed his true race pace by fighting back from 29th to finish 18th, giving him an opportunity to fight for points for the remainder of the day.
In the second race of the day Jack had selected the soft Dunlop Sport Maxx tyre compound, which proved to be a well-calculated decision. An excellent launch off the line saw him leap forward into the points within the first handful of laps as the 26-year-old reveled in the door-to-door action on the cusp of the top ten.
In the latter stages of the race Jack was involved in a great battle with a wealth of former BTCC Champions including Andrew Jordan, Gordon Shedden, Alain Menu and series leader Colin Turkington. Clarke eventually finished 13th on the road, fending off Neal and Menu who have nearly 90 BTCC victories between them.
Crabbie’s Racing’s Clarke made an excellent start in race three, beating the two most recent BTCC champions – Jordan and Shedden – into the first corner. It was to be a strong race as Clarke got his head down and he crossed the line in 14th to collect another two championship points. He was also the highest placed Motorbase-run driver in the final Scottish encounter of the year.
As the team left the Fife motor racing amphitheatre, Jack was pleased with his performance despite a troubled Saturday:
“Qualifying is still a struggle for us,” he said. “The car and I can’t quite create time with new rubber right from the off, so high grip situations like qualifying are proving to be a bit tough.
“The weekend has been a marked improvement and we are going in the right direction. We didn’t luck in to too many positions and our pace on the soft tyre was very competitive and encouraging. We are always consistently quick at the end of a race, whereas tyre degradation seems to be high for a lot of other teams, which means we can start to pick off other drivers in the final few laps.
“It was a positive and enjoyable weekend and to be racing literally right in the middle of the pack is great fun. Knockhill is a really cool track and I enjoyed the weekend and atmosphere immensely.”
Upon his Knockhill reflection Clarke looked ahead to the next round:
“I have never been to Rockingham before but the tracks I am unfamiliar with this year have not proved to be too much of a disadvantage in regards to pace or performance. I plan to make that little next step towards the cusp of the top ten and the shuffle for race three and there is no reason why we can’t achieve that goal next time out at Rockingham.”