JELLEY: “SIGNS POINT TO A GOOD WEEKEND”
Team BMW’s Stephen Jelley is ready for the first of two back-to-back race weekends in the Kwik Fit British Touring Car Championship, as the series travels to North Yorkshire’s Croft Circuit this weekend (18/19 September).
The Leicestershire driver has had success at the venue in the past, claiming a rare hat-trick of podiums – a pair of second places and a third – when he last competed with West Surrey Racing back in 2009. In addition to his BTCC success there, the 39-year-old claimed a win in the British F3 International Series in ’07 and added two podiums during his time in the Porsche Carrera Cup GB.
Jelley had a tough weekend at Thruxton last time out – although he managed to score points in every race – and he has his eyes on greater rewards at Croft, where he believes the team can run a similar setup to that which helped him succeed at Oulton Park and Knockhill. He was the third-highest points scorer over those two weekends, so a return to form would help boost him up the championship order.
It has been a busy time ahead of Croft as he took part in the BMW PGA Championship Pro-Am with team-mate Tom Oliphant, Spanish professional golfer Adri Arnaus, and Irish youngster Brendan Lawlor, where the foursome finished fifth in the afternoon wave, 21 under par.
Alongside his Team BMW colleagues, Jelley will head out for two practice sessions at 0930 and 1205 on Saturday 18 September, before qualifying at 1450, which can be seen live via itv.com/btcc. The first of three 15-lap races takes place on Sunday at 1205, followed at 1435 and 1705, with live coverage available all day on ITV4 and on ITV Hub.
“Historically, Croft has been very good for BMW,” said Jelley. “I enjoy racing there. When I drove for West Surrey in 2009 I had three podiums in a day, which is a pretty hard feat to achieve.
“It was resurfaced recently, which has somewhat changed its characteristic. Last year the weather was a little bit odd so that always makes the surface a bit slippery, and we had the hard tyre. Going back this year we should see something a bit more normal. The circuit will suit the characteristics of the 330i M Sport; the fast-flowing back section should be really nice in this car, and we can get a good punch out of the hairpin.
“The main thing is looking forward to getting back on track after a bit of a disappointing Thruxton. Oulton and Knockhill were really good points-scoring weekends and at Croft we should be able to run a similar setup, so the signs point to a good weekend. It’s going to be a pivotal meeting for the championship and I think afterwards we’ll get an idea of exactly who’s in the mix. So, from a team perspective, we’ve got to start looking at things like that.”