Bobby Thompson will start his maiden Dunlop British Touring Car Championship race at the fabled and utterly frantic 1.1-mile Brands Hatch Indy circuit from 27th place tomorrow (Sunday).
While the 14th row is not a position the reigning VW Cup Series champion is accustomed to, when you consider that the entire 32-strong BTCC grid finished the first qualifying session of the season separated by a mere 1.1-seconds, there is still everything to play for.
And with the weather looking decidedly ‘British’ for Sunday, a few drops of the wet stuff has given the driver of the #19 Team HARD with Trade Price Cars Volkswagen CC, plenty of reasons to be more optimistic than you may think.
“Today was always going to be a challenging day just because of the nature of the BTCC,” said the 21 year-old BRDC Rising Star, who completed more than 80 laps of the Kidney shaped Indy circuit that catapults the drivers through a series of seemingly non-stop crests, dips and turns during Saturday’s two practice sessions and the all-important timed qualifying period.
“This was the first time that I’ve been on track with all the different types of rubber that the various support series uses and that has an effect on how the car responds to each corner but I’m lucky to have an experienced crew around me and we were able to make good progress during the day.
“Brands Indy is a track that simply doesn’t let up, there is nowhere to relax and you hardly ever get any clear track so to finish the day with no track limits warnings, no pit lane infringements and no contact is a positive.”
But the main positive that Bobby can take from the day is that in each of the three timed sessions the gap between his #19 GKR Scaffolding entry and the session leader shrunk and with his final qualifying effort just 0.8-seconds off the pole time and plenty more potential to be unlocked from the car, Bobby knows that numbers don’t always tell the full story.
“It’s tough to go from winning championships and setting lap records to starting out again as a rookie but this is the most competitive touring car championship in the world and I’m ready for it. I know in race trim we have got a good package and tomorrow we get a chance to show it.”
PICTURE CREDIT ANDREW SOUL.