PODIUM FINISH FOR STEPHEN JELLEY CAPS SOLID SCOTTISH SWING
Stephen Jelley remained well inside the top ten in the Kwik Fit British Touring Car Championship Standings as the Team BMW driver secured a third-place finish at Knockhill.
Starting the third race of the weekend on pole position, the West Surrey Racing man got an excellent launch off the line to hold first place but a short Safety Car period soon eradicated his advantage, with series stalwart Jason Plato putting on the pressure.
The Leicestershire-native fended off those efforts well, but, when Tom Ingram got past Plato, he found himself under renewed attack. Driving well, Jelley kept his car in the right places against his rival – who was running the softer tyre compound – before Ingram made a bold, late move at the hairpin to get inside the BMW 330i M Sport.
Seeing the move, Jelley chose not to turn in on his rival and, finding himself being run wide out of the corner, he then lost another spot to Senna Proctor as he lost momentum. The 39-year-old settled into third place, which he held despite the best intentions of local hero Gordon Shedden.
Earlier in the day, Jelley had fought back well from disappointment in qualifying, which saw him starting 14th on the grid for race one. He passed Plato for 12th and inherited 11th when team-mate Tom Oliphant was spun off. In the second contest, after a lengthy Safety Car period, he moved into ninth when Rory Butcher and Aiden Moffat came together.
That ninth became pole position by virtue of the reverse grid draw and, with his podium finish and 28 points scored across all three races, Jelley leaves Scotland eighth in the Drivers’ Standings with 15 of the season’s 30 races complete. He will be back in BTCC action in just under two weeks’ time as the series heads back to Thruxton over the weekend of 28/29 August.
“Race one we basically kept out of trouble, I kept my nose clean and made a few places up,” said Jelley. “It’s so hard to overtake around Knockhill, and easy for something bad to happen, so I was trying to be sensible in the first two races.
“I got one good opportunity to get past Rory Butcher at the chicane during race two, which I did, and then on the run down to the hairpin I left the door open and he had a massive lunge. I thought ‘he’s got me here, if I turn in, I’m gone.’ I had to sort of concede and then Plato got through as well, so I lost two positions, but then got into the battle with that train of cars. I just hung off the back of it because everything was looking a bit feisty.
“I thought the win was on in race three. I thought I managed it quite well and apparently a lot of the cars around me were on the soft tyre and I was on the medium. I was very aware that we were open to a big move at the hairpin, so I was quite defensive, but held it quite well. Then Tom made quite a robust move and it was a shame that Proctor was so close behind him as well. Third is good, but a win would have been nice.”