The summer break is now over and BTCC fans were ecstatic to see the 2017 Dunlop MSA British Touring Car Championship return to Snetterton Circuit. 2016 saw plenty of bumper-to-bumper action at the Norfolk track which ended with Turkington, Jackson and Shedden sharing the spoils.
Following Saturday’s qualifying session at Snetterton and a last minute appeal from Matt Neal, which saw him climb 19 positions, left Dave Newsham and Chris Smiley 19th and 22nd on the grid respectively.
Race one was going according to plan which saw a valiant drive from Dave to get his car up 11 places to P8, unfortunately he had an issue with his power steering that left all of his hard work undone. Teammate Smiley had much better fortune and made up 8 spaces and brought his car home in 14th and securing his third points haul of the season.
Newsham again suffered difficulty in Round 2 as his engine cut out when the lights went out, meaning he did not get the start that he had hoped for. He managed to get the car fired up and his Cruze ended up in the gravel, after receiving contact from behind in the first corner. Dave managed to recover to P20 which was enough to allow him to make a run for a top 15 position in the final race of the day.
Smiley was keen to crack the top 10 from his well-deserved P14, but things didn’t pan out that way that he hoped. “Today was a day that started off so well” said the Carrickfergus driver. “We had a strong points finish and a car that had genuine pace. Unfortunately, I had some unnecessary contact in race two and I lost three positions and missed out on consecutive top 15 finishes.”
Dave narrowly avoided a large shunt in Round 18 which sent him further down the pack that left an uphill struggle to try and salvage the day by finishing in the points. Known for moving forward, Dave stormed to a P13 that kept his record intact of finishing in the points at every race weekend of 2017.
Despite a tough weekend, Dave now leads the BTCC Forever Forward standings, having gained the most number of places in races during the season so far.
A great testament to Dave’s determination to get his BTC Norlin Racing Chevy through the pack. Dave leads with a total of 80 points, ahead of Colin Turkington by two points. It was a tough weekend, but Dave was focused on the positives.
“Despite having great pace, qualifying didn’t go to plan, so P19 on the grid was much lower than our pace had suggested. This was highlighted by the way that we cut through the field in race 1, getting as high as P8 before power steering issues dropped me back to P26.”
“Having reviewed things from the weekend, it is clear that we could have bagged more points and possibly a top ten finish. The only consolation is the improvements that we made to the cars at the last test have been verified, and we are fast! It is my home race next at Knockhill. I love the circuit and I am pretty sure that my BTC Norlin Racing Chevy will do too…”
Chris was also keen to take the positives from the weekend, despite some frustrations over how the races played out. “I was really happy with my pace in FP1 and FP2 on Saturday, and was disappointed that I was not able to repeat the lap times in qualifying, following a mistake on the last lap. I had top ten pace in the car in the morning, but had to settle for starting P22 in the first race on Sunday.”
“Next up is Knockhill, a circuit that I have raced at many times, and I am excited to see what we can do there in these cars. We’ve taken a huge step forward and the pace is there, we just need a rub of the green to get the results we know are possible.”
Photography: Jay Adair.