Rowbottom: ‘The time is right’
Kwik Fit British Touring Car Championship newcomer Daniel Rowbottom has navigated a long and tortuous road to the country’s premier motorsport series, but as he prepares to join the grid in 2019, the Ciceley Motorsport man insists the time is right for him to shine.
Following a successful stint in karting, Rowbottom first appeared on the TOCA package as a fresh-faced 19-year-old in the 2008 SEAT Cupra Cup, but the combination of a lack of funding and the Spanish manufacturer pulling the plug on the series at the end of the season conspired to keep the Midlander away from the grid for the following seven years. He has had to work hard to come back.
“The BTCC and its support package is the place to be to attract backing to make going racing sustainable, outside of that things can be difficult. As a result, we spent a few years trying to drum up the necessary sponsorship,” he explained. “We saw movement midway through 2015, by which time I had been out of the sport for almost seven seasons.
“Since joining forces with my sponsor Cataclean, we have never looked back and I returned to the TOCA package in the Renault UK Clio Cup in 2016. The trouble was that the game changes so quickly in this sport, and whereas at 18 you have no fear, at 27, I was engaged and had just bought a house so it took a while to settle back into the groove.
“It’s only really in the last two years that I’ve had a proper stab at this, and now here we are in the BTCC! I feel we should have been here eight or nine years ago – it’s taken a lot longer than I ever imagined, but back then, I didn’t understand enough about the business side of racing to make it viable.”
Rowbottom has certainly had to overcome his fair share of hurdles on his journey to the pinnacle of British motorsport, but his calibre is clear to see, with three race wins and 11 further podium finishes in the fiercely-disputed Renault UK Clio Cup propelling him to fifth in the overall standings in 2017 and fourth last year.
As he prepares to graduate to the BTCC with Ciceley Motorsport, the Kidderminster man is under no illusions about the size of the challenge ahead – but equally champing at the bit to get out on-track and prove his worth.
“It’s a dream to be on the grid now, and I’m really looking forward to the season ahead,” he enthused. “The BTCC has been my target ever since I was in karting, and while it’s been a long old road to get here, we’ve finally made it. For me, this is the most competitive touring car championship in the world – you only have to look at the timing sheets to see how close it always is.
“This is the right time for me. My first test in the Mercedes was in quite poor conditions at Silverstone last month, but after three months, I was already in love with it and I can’t wait to get behind the wheel again.
“In terms of objectives, if we can achieve regular top ten finishes, I will be very happy, and of course we want to be in contention for the Jack Sears Trophy. Most importantly, I want to enjoy the experience and grow with the championship – that has to be the number one goal.”