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Two teams enjoy top weekends at Oulton Park

Welch Motorsport and Support Our Paras Racing both enjoyed their best weekend of the 2015 Dunlop MSA British Touring Car Championship so far at Oulton Park last time out (6/7 June).

Derek Palmer bagged a triple Independents’ points finish for Support Our Paras Racing across the three Sunday races.

After scoring his first point by finishing 15th in class in the opener, Palmer improved to 14th in race 2 — registering two points — before going one step further in the day’s finale, tallying three points for 13th.

“That’s mega – awesome,” Palmer said. “It’s the perfect way to end what has been a difficult few weeks for the team. Now we have a new, solid base to work and develop from.”

This was the first weekend Support Our Paras Racing had raced since Infiniti withdrew its backing for the new team.

The Mallory Park-based team’s race cars are prepared by injured ex-servicemen from the Parachute Regiment, with all team profits being donated to Support Our Paras, the official Regiment charity.

It was a day of notable firsts for the fledgling team. Not only did Support Our Paras Racing score its first 19 points in the Independents Team Trophy, but Palmer took three podium finishes in the Jack Sears Trophy for BTCC rookies.

After finishing third in the opening two races, Palmer was second in the day’s final race. He now stands fourth in the race for the prestigious Jack Sears Trophy, just 18 points off third.

“I’m very happy,” the 28-year-old admitted. “The race pace is significantly improved, and we can now comfortably mix it with the guys in the midfield. I struggled a little bit to bring the tyres up to temperature at the start of Race 3, but overall I’m really happy.

“The pace in race 3 was mega. I managed to keep Rob Collard — a BTCC race winner — behind me for a few laps, which was really encouraging and showed how we’ve improved our pace. That was a nice feeling.”

Meanwhile race 3 marked a huge step forward for the family-run Welch Motorsport team in terms of mechanical reliability, as driver Dan held his nerve throughout the 15-lap contest despite being under intense pressure from AmDTuning.com’s Mike Bushell to finish inside the points.

Such a result looked to have escaped the team’s grasp in the final few laps when BMW driver Collard slipped past, thus demoting Welch to 16th and out of the points, but the 32-year old negotiated his way through other drivers’ errors to greet the chequered flag in the last points paying position, finishing over a second ahead of the Audi A4 of Hunter Abbott.

“We’ve made progress, which is the main thing, and it’s always good to end the weekend with two healthy cars,” said Welch. “The engines are improving with each session, which was the main aim this weekend. The pace is also getting better and we now have a platform to move forward. It was good to get three race finishes for once and get back into the mix and start racing again. It will also be the first time in 18 months where we haven’t had to take the engines out after a race weekend, which is nice.

“We shouldn’t be happy with finishing 15th and getting a point, but after the last 18 months, it has made a huge difference. We can only look higher up the grid now.”

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