With both Chris Smiley and Dan Lloyd now having secured their first wins in the championship, the race is on for them to get their second wins.
While trophies are always a bonus, the end of the season is approaching and points are really important to ensure the team heads into the winter on a high. Solid point scoring finishes are the minimum that the team is looking to achieve at the final rounds of the Championship.
Chris Smiley entered the weekend 13th in the Drivers’ Championship, just six points from the top ten and 2nd in the Jack Sears Trophy. With 33 points between him and the current leader, Dan Cammish, Chris was looking for a strong haul of points from the weekend.
Dan Lloyd, who is now in his 5th weekend with the team, was focused on top ten finishes and getting back to the podium!
The circuit, which has been resurfaced since the BTCC last visited, promised to deliver quick lap times and did not disappoint.
Saturday morning kicked off with the two Free Practice sessions and followed by 30 minutes of qualifying to determine the grid for Sunday’s first race.
A sunny but chilly day, started with the usual process of working through setup changes on both cars and the drivers getting accustomed to the new track surface. Chris Smiley finished the session P13, just 0.47 seconds off P1 and Dan Lloyd ended the session in P27.
There was more track action for the Honda Civic Type Rs at lunchtime and with things warming up, the lap times started to drop. Chris and Dan had a great session finishing in P4 and P9 respectively.
Confident from the morning’s running and having shown great pace in the morning sessions, both Chris and Dan were targeting top ten qualifying positions for race one on Sunday. However, finding space on the 1.3mile circuit to post a quick lap became a challenge.
After a brief red flag period in which the circuit required attention to clear oil from the track which had been dropped earlier, Chris finished the session in P5, three tenths off pole and Dan qualified P14 having struggled to get a clear lap. The session was close, with the fastest 26 cars covered by just one second.
Speaking after the session, Chris was happy with his performance. “I am really pleased with the session. I put my time in when everyone was under pressure and now I am in a great position for tomorrow in P5.”
Whilst P14 wasn’t what Dan was looking for this afternoon, he will bounce back and get his head down tomorrow. “The car had great pace, but I was unlucky and couldn’t get a clean run. I am a bit disappointed with P14, but it is one of those things. Onwards and upwards for tomorrow!”
Photography: Phil Laughton