Bobby Thompson will have to build on his impressive opening weekend of the 2019 season from the rear of the 30-strong grid after his timed qualifying session at a frigid Donington Park came to an early, and somewhat gravelly conclusion.
As Storm Hannah battered the 1.98-mile Leicestershire venue, the day began promisingly for the 22 year-old BTCC fan favourite and his #19 GKR Scaffolding with Autobrite Direct outfit run by Team HARD with a strong 17th place effort in the first of two practice sessions which was held in wet conditions. Even better was to come in second practice as the 2017 VW Cup Series Champion took full advantage of some rare dry track conditions to post the fifth fastest time overall.
“We were really happy with the progress we made during the morning sessions,” commented the driver known throughout the paddock as ‘Bobster.’ “With the weather being what it was we felt we were in a good position to qualify in the top 15, maybe even the top ten but you know what they say about the best laid plans…..”
With the weather looking decidedly uncertain at the start of the critical 30-minute timed session, all 30 competitors in Britain’s premier domestic race series charged out of pit lane when the clock began to try and get a good ‘banker lap’ in before any future rain stopped play. As with all front wheel drive cars, Thompson completed one out lap and then had to pit to cross over his tyres before returning to the track for what should have been his first qualifying run.
However after just one lap at full qualifying speed Thompson ran a few inches off line as he charged down the daunting Craner Curves and despite his best efforts to keep the #19 VW CC on track, he skittled into a gravel trap, bringing his session to a premature conclusion.
“I knew that it could rain at any moment and with the rear wheel drive boys having already set a lap I was just pushing to get a banker lap in and I just pushed a little too hard,” rued the driver who entered the weekend sitting 12th in the Championship standings courtesy of his trio of points finishes at Brands. “The right rear just stepped out on me at the worst moment and although I tried to catch it, my momentum just sent me into the gravel trap and that was game over for us.”
With no representative qualifying time, Thompson will start 30th and last for round four of the 2019 season but after showing such promise in practice, he remains upbeat of putting on a strong showing in Sunday’s trio of 16 lap races.
“The good news is that we were fast in practice and we know the car is set up well so we can still push for more points, I’ve just made life a little bit harder for myself.”
For those unable to make the trip to the 2019 Kwik Fit MSA British Touring Car Championship race day, all three races will be broadcast LIVE on ITV4 at the following times.
11:35am - BTCC Race 1 (Live on ITV4)
13:00pm - Pit lane Walkabout/Drivers Autograph Session
14:30pm - BTCC Race 2 (Live on ITV4)
17:15pm - BTCC Race 3 (Live on ITV4)