AmD in the points
AmD with AutoAid/RCIB Insurance Racing team secured a hat-trick of top ten finishes from a strong weekend on track at Rockingham for the seventh meeting of the 2018 Dunlop MSA British Touring Car Championship.
The West Thurrock-based team was keen to bounce back from a tough weekend at Snetterton where a single top ten finish didn’t reflect the pace in the team’s MG6 GT, with all-Scottish driver pairing of Rory Butcher and Glynn Geddie keen to impress.
Fife racer Butcher led the MG challenge in qualifying with the 20th best time, with the close nature of the grid being reflected by the fact that his time was just six-tenths of a second off pole position.
Come Sunday however, Butcher was able to show the race pace in the car with a starring drive in the opening 18 lap encounter that saw him work his way through the field to take ninth spot on the very last lap.
Although he briefly dropped outside the top ten in the early stages of race two, he was soon fighting his way forwards once again and crossed the line in eighth spot which secured a second row start for the final race thanks to the reverse grid draw.
Running a strong second early on, Butcher diced with championship leader Colin Turkington over third place before a small error at Deene saw him run wide and slip down to sixth spot, which is where he would ultimately finish for a third top ten result of the weekend.
Team-mate Geddie went into the weekend carrying an additional 45kg of ballast as a new entry and without any prior running in the car, which played a part in him qualifying in 30th place.
The Aberdeen racer ran well with the extra ballast in race one to finish 22nd and then repeated the result in race two after finding himself dicing on track with the Honda of Dan Cammish late on.
The former British GT champion briefly got himself up into the points in the early stages of race three but having been demoted back to 21st place, he brought the car in to retire as a precaution when a warning light appeared on the dashboard.
“I’m really pleased with how the weekend went and it was a good way for us to bounce back from the disappointment of not scoring at Snetterton,” said Butcher. “After such a tight qualifying session, I felt confident that we could race forwards as we have had a strong race car throughout the season – and that proved to be correct.
“It was all about making sure that we stayed out of trouble at the start of the races, particularly in the mixed conditions, but I think I drove well and felt in a good place going into race three. I was determined to try and get to the front early on but perhaps took a bit too much out of the tyres and was struggling for grip.
“It was a shame that we had the little trip off but if I’m being honest, I’m not sure if I would have been able to keep the three guys behind at bay because of the way our tyres dropped off. I’m not going to beat myself up about it because three top ten finishes is a great weekend for us and a nice boost going into my home round at Knockhill.”
“I think it’s been a good weekend for me on my return to the series,” added Geddie. “Carrying ballast as a new entry was always going to make it tough, but I think we made good progress across the weekend.
“Race two in particular was good once we had the weight taken out, and the car was transformed from where we were in race one. I was able to push a lot more and made good progress in terms of my pace, which is something I can take a lot of confidence from considering how long it is since I last raced a front-wheel drive car.
“It’s unfortunate that the issue in race three cost me some track time but I’ve shown I can be competitive despite my lack of time in the car and I’m confident of pushing further forwards at Knockhill.”
Over in the Audi side of the garage, AmD with Cobra Exhausts secured a brace of points scoring finishes.
A solid performance in qualifying saw Ollie Jackson put his Audi S3 19th on the grid for the opening race of the weekend, with a best lap just six-tenths of a second away from pole position.
Just missing out on the points scoring positions in race one, he showed the race pace of the Audi S3 Saloon in race two with a fine drive in drying conditions after an earlier shower to cross the line in eleventh spot, just missing out on pole position through the reverse grid draw.
Jackson then fought his way as high as sixth despite running on the less favourable Option-Hard Dunlop tyre and battled hard to keep the works Honda of Dan Cammish at bay before taking the flag in ninth spot for a second points finish of the weekend.
Team-mate Sam Smelt showed strong pace throughout practice and qualifying to end up with a personal best of 16th on the grid but his hopes of opening his points scoring account were ended on lap one of the opening race when he was hit going through the Deene Hairpin and forced to retire.
At the back of the grid for race two as a result, Smelt fought his way forwards to 23rd place but there would be further disappointment in race three when he was involved in contact that forced him into the pits to retire.
“We could have enjoyed a better Saturday but I think the race pace was strong this weekend and it’s good to come away from Rockingham with two points finishes and a top ten,” said Jackson. “If anything, it’s a little disappointing that we didn’t manage to score in all three races.
“In the final race on the hard tyre we were particularly strong but I didn’t quite have the legs to get ahead of Adam Morgan and then had to make sure I kept Dan’s Honda behind. It shows the progress we have made however to be battling for position with cars that have won races, and that are run by the works teams.
“If this is the final time we come to Rockingham with the BTCC, I’m glad we’ve closed this chapter with a strong performance on track.”
“I finally managed to sort Saturday our this weekend with strong pace in practice and qualifying, which is the big positive for me to take away from Rockingham,” added Smelt. “I was quick throughout the day and even though I picked up my best result in qualifying, I felt there was more to come and was still a little bit disappointed not to be higher up the grid.
“Unfortunately Sunday turned out to be a day to forget and the contact on the opening lap of race one really put me on the back foot. I did what I could to try and make up places in race two but then more contact in the final race forced me to retire again which was a sad way to end race day.
“I’m going to put race day behind me and take the positives forwards to Knockhill where hopefully we can fight for some points.”