A hard fought points haul
I love Knockhill! It’s my favourite circuit in the UK next to Thruxton, and although it favours the cars driven by the rear wheels, off the back of our podium result at Snetterton I was excited to see what we could do.
With so many rear-wheel drive cars on the grid this year we thought that anything in the top ten would be a really good effort but after qualifying P9, my best qualifying position of the year so far and a best ever for Handy Motorsport, I still wasn’t happy. I didn’t feel like I had done my best, there was more in it and that takes away some satisfaction. It’s a funny thing. For me personally, I can give it everything and extract the maximum out of the car but if the car’s only good enough for 15th I will be happy with my work. Equally, if you win a race through pure luck its nowhere near as satisfying as knowing you really earned it.
Anyway, it proved the progress we made at Snetterton wasn’t a one off and set us up for some solid points on Sunday. Race one was fairly uneventful for us on the medium tyres, I lost a place to Gordon (Shedden) early on and then spent the whole race stuck behind him. The Toyota felt great but with the Honda’s short wheelbase, it was impossible to attack him under the braking zones so I just had to sit there.
Race two was full of action! I managed to get Gordon off the line this time (who needs RWD!) only to have him reappear in my boot at turn three couple of laps later. Being shoved out on to the grass cost me three spots and the damage to my rear corner hampered my pace. I then managed to pick up a stone through the radiator and the engine gradually started getting hotter and hotter causing a loss of power. Then, another whack from at turn one meant that my car was now very poorly.
Unfortunately, this meant that pack started catching me. Fortunately, for me anyway, I managed to pass Tom Ingram just as I was starting to get into some scuffling with Jake Hill. Passing Tom meant he was left to deal with them and allowed me to pull a safe gap which would see me through to the end of the race. I felt very lucky to make the finish of that one!
Race three and it was our turn to run Dunlop’s soft compound tyre, the more favourable compound at Knockhill. We had a good run on the opening laps and gained some places but some residue damage from the last race meant I had understeer from the start and I wasn’t able to make the soft tyres last the race distance.
We got up to sixth and caught the lead battle but no sooner had I caught it, then we started falling back. That meant I came under pressure from Adam Morgan whose medium tyres were still holding up. The typically BTCC battling with Morgan meant the boys had to reconstruct the back of the car after the event…
In hindsight, using the soft tyres for race two would have been the better call. It would have kept us away from the carnage and likely bagged us a top spot in the reverse grid draw... I hate hindsight! But that was my call, both Simon (Belcher) and Matt (my engineer) wanted to go with race two but I talked them out of it. I am now banned from having any say in the tyre choice!
Anyway, on to Rockingham. I’ve had some great results there. It’s layout certainly suited Sherman Tom Ingram also got his first podium there last year in a Toyota so I’m hopeful that it will suit the Avensis as well as it did the Audi.
On paper it should. Knockhill likes short wheel base RWD cars whereas Rockingham seems to favour a longer wheel base like the Toyota has and is pretty neutral between RWD and FWD. I think we should have good pace and I’m hopeful I can bag the team another podium result.