Bobby Thompson said in the lead up to his second weekend in the 2018 Dunlop MSA British Touring Car Championship at the 1.99-mile Donington Park circuit that he was determined to make progress towards the top 20 and a maiden championship point.
And on a rain-soaked and unseasonably chilly day at the Leicestershire venue the 21 year-old Hornchurch based BTCC rookie backed up that claim with a career best qualifying result aboard his #19 GKR Scaffolding Team HARD with Trade Price Cars Volkswagen CC.
After a day that saw track conditions range from greasy to downright sodden, the reigning VW Cup Series Champion overcame a Power Steering issue that effectively cost him the first of two free practice sessions to set his fastest lap of the day when it mattered most in a frantic 30-minute qualifying session.
The 2018 BRDC Rising Star will now line up on the 12th row of the grid for the first of Sunday’s three races in Britain's premier domestic racing series, directly behind defending series champion Ash Sutton and just half a second adrift of current championship leader Tom Ingram.
“That was a really, really tough session,” said Bobby, who was an impressive eighth fastest of the Jack Sears Trophy contenders. “Because the track was so greasy to start with you only had two or three laps to get the very best out of the wet tyres and every lap it seemed there were people running wide and going onto the grass which meant finding clear air was almost impossible. I know that I could have gone a couple of tenths quicker as I took too much kerb on my quickest lap and those kerbs are like ice when they are wet and that would have put me in the top 20.
“I know that I still have a long way to go but I’m so proud of my Team HARD mechanics today as they worked non-stop on the car. We had a few issues in the morning and tried a few things that were a little bit ‘out there,’ which didn’t work so they had to completely change the set-up for second practice and then track conditions changed again so we were fighting the weather as well as the other drivers all day.
“I really enjoy driving in the wet and now that we have got the Brands Hatch set-up on the car, which I really like, I’m sure that it will be totally dry for race day tomorrow!! But at least that will be better for the fans because I was tempted to go back to my motorhome and get my winter thermal underwear today it was so cold.”
Woolly long johns or not, Bobby now faces a trio of 16-lap races on Sunday and while a record BTCC crowd for Donington is predicted, for those who can’t make it. All three BTCC races will be shown live on ITV4 at the times shown below. And for those fans who are going to cheer on the #19 in person, make sure to grab your free copy of The Bobster newspaper and a complimentary can of Rio Soft Drink during the pit lane walkabout and drivers autograph session.
Sunday April 29th:
11:35am - BTCC Race 1 (Live on ITV4)
12:55 - 13:25pm - Pit lane Walkabout/Drivers Autograph Session
14:40pm - BTCC Race 2 (Live on ITV4)
17:25pm - BTCC Race 3 (Live on ITV4)
Picture Credit: AMSoul Images