Rain at Pembrey hampers progress for Speedworks
Speedworks Motorsport continued with its testing programme at Pembrey yesterday (19 May) with the squad looking to cement itself in the top ten of the championship for the remainder of the BTCC season.
With impressive rookie Tom Ingram behind the wheel it was hoped the team could work through a planned programme during the day, but the weather in Wales unfortunately had other ideas.
“It was all going well until the heavens opened two hours into the day!” quipped Ingram. “That meant we didn’t get through everything we wanted to. We had a lot of set-up work on the agenda – the sort of thing you can’t really do over a race weekend due to lack of time – and hoped to gain a better understanding of the car. Pembrey is the ideal circuit for that purpose because it has the perfect blend of fast and slow corners – but unfortunately, the weather wasn’t in the mood to play ball…”
It’s far from being a hard luck story for Speedworks, however, having already tallied seven points-scoring finishes from nine races to-date – four of them inside the top ten.
Aside from Ingram’s impressive racecraft, even more eye-catching has been the BRDC SuperStar’s scintillating qualifying form, lining up an excellent sixth in the Brands Hatch curtain-raiser and improving to fifth last time out at super-fast Thruxton – a sure sign of the Avensis’ inherent pace and potential.
His results have placed the triple Ginetta Champion and former British Karting Champion 13th in the drivers’ table, whilst Speedworks sits ninth in the teams’ standings and seventh in the Independents’ Trophy.
Testing and data analysis are on the agenda before Oulton Park to try to refine the car in race trim – the Avensis’ present Achilles’ heel – and identify why Sunday afternoons have thus far fallen slightly short of the scene-stealing one-lap pace evinced in qualifying. Christian Dick – team principal of the Northwich, Cheshire-based outfit – is very confident that the best is yet to come.
“We can’t really complain, can we?” he mused of the start to Speedworks’ fourth BTCC campaign. “Tom has shown he is extremely capable. You’ve got to remember that he is just 20-years-old and this is his first season in the premier tin-top championship in the world, but he is proving to be a very quick learner.
“To have posted two top six qualifying positions out of three is outstanding, and demonstrates the progress we’ve made with the Avensis over the winter. Nobody had any ballast on-board in the first round of the year, so to be within a couple of tenths-of-a-second of pole position at Brands Hatch was staggering – especially when you think that our deal with Tom came together fairly late and that consequently, we didn’t have the opportunity to get much pre-season testing under our belts.
“The races have gone pretty well, too, although we did leave Thruxton feeling frustrated; yes, we came away with three sets of points, but when you’ve shown you’ve got the pace to run fifth, your expectations are quite naturally raised. That said, to be disappointed with three points-scoring finishes is an encouraging sign in itself and underlines just how far the bar has been raised and how much of a step forward we have taken since the end of last year.
“The goalposts have shifted, and we’re now secretly hoping we can come away from race weekends having snuck a podium – and once we achieve that, we can work towards trying to win our first race in the BTCC. I’m very positive about everything we’ve got in the pipeline, and we’re obviously particularly keen to do well at Oulton Park, our local circuit. We’ve always received strong support there from sponsors, family and friends, and we’re eager to repay that support with our performance on-track.
“The BTCC is so competitive right now that if you’re not at absolutely 100 per cent, you’re not going to get results and as a team, we still need to string everything together this year – but once we do, I think we will have some blinding weekends…”