Brands Hatch Indy Full Weekend Report


07 April 2017

April 1st and 2nd at Brands Hatch Indy saw BTC Norlin Racing take to the track for the first competitive outing of the 2017 Dunlop MSA British Touring Car Championship.

The Chevrolet Cruzes featured amongst a highly competitive field of experienced drivers and race teams at Brands Hatch Indy.

The newly formed team showed great pace throughout the weekend, with just 1.5 seconds covering the full grid in qualifying, it highlights how competitive the BTCC Championship will be this season.

Free Practice 1

Dave Newsham – 11th

Chris Smiley – 19th

Free Practice 2

Dave Newsham – 18th

Chris Smiley – 23rd

“Free practice was going well. Our pace was good and we improved the car throughout the day. I was probably the only driver not to use new tyres in FP2 and we were just 5 tenths of a second off the fastest time, so I was in a confident mood heading into qualifying” commented Newsham.

Qualifying Results

Dave Newsham – DNF

Chris Smiley – 28th

However, the qualifying session was interrupted by rain and incidents that affected a host of teams and drivers and Dave Newsham was no different.

“Looking at the sky’s, rain was coming, so we only opted for one lap to warm the tyres before starting my qualifying lap.”

“In hindsight, this wasn’t enough time as the tyres were still too cold – I hit the brakes for turn one like every lap prior, however the front tyres immediately locked and I just couldn’t get the car slowed down enough before running into the gravel trap, then I was a passenger and hit the tyre barrier.”

“The car was bogged down and my qualifying was over before it really got going. I am the only one to blame for this and I hold my head in shame!”

Brands Hatch Indy Race 1 Result

Dave Newsham – DNF

Chris Smiley – 21st

“With a 32 car grid of the most competitive driver/car combinations in BTCC history, I couldn’t have made things more difficult for myself” added Dave.

“I did however make a solid start and was getting into my stride. By lap 11 I was up to P26, but then came a rumble from the rear of my car. I thought I had a puncture, however I soon realised that I was losing my rear wheel. I was trying to nurse the car back to the pits, however the wheel came off completely and I had to park the car at the side of the track”

Brands Hatch Indy Race 2 Result

Dave Newsham – 17th

Chris Smiley – DNF

“Once again starting from the rear of the field, I was starting to enjoy fighting my way through the field, by half distance I was up to P23. As the race went on we were getting quicker compared to others, in fact the last few laps of the race we were faster than the leaders, crossing the line in P17.” said Newsham.

Speaking on his difficult second round, Chris added “It was tough with not getting qualified in the dry which made the weekend an uphill battle but I got up to 13th place in the second race but another car hit my steering, which ruled me out of the race.”

“Up until that point it was the best I could do to recover from 28th on the grid. We had very good starts and good car pace which has laid a solid foundation for us to move forward with me and the car. Donington Park should be a strong track for me and the team.”

Brands Hatch Indy Race 3 Result

Dave Newsham – 14th

Chris Smiley – 25th

Following a DNF in qualifying and in race one due to weather conditions and some bad luck, things were now starting to look up for Dave. “Finally, we were mid pack for the start of a race and I could clearly see the starting lights.”

“By lap 5 I was in P11 and on the back of a pack of cars. I tried to pass Michael Epps into Paddock Hill, however he closed the gap and then into the hairpin I got an almighty shunt into the rear of my car sending me sideways with cars passing either side of me and some hitting me as they passed me. I thought that my race was over right there, however I managed to straighten the car and keep going.”

“The car was damaged. One of my rear wheels was knocked and the car was crabbing making it very unstable under braking, however my lap times were ok. I had dropped to P17.”

“I knuckled down and started to re-pass the cars ahead and once again our pace towards the end of the race was comparable to the leaders despite the car being hobbled. We managed to finish the race in P14 and gained BTC Norlin Racing’s first ever points.” said a delighted Dave Newsham.

Rounding up the weekend’s action, team manager Bert Taylor added: “This was our first full weekend as a team, at the circuit, and we achieved exactly what I personally wanted us to do, which was to get into the top 15.”

“We showed great pace, the cars are working well and the drivers are showing that they have what it takes.”

Whilst the team encountered some challenges, they worked tirelessly to overcome them, and the resulting times that were achieved, and to progress up the grid in the races shows that we have a great foundation to build on.”

“We are a hugely passionate and ambitious team and we will keep pushing and improving at every circuit. Given that we are such a new team, and the weekend was the first racing event for the team as a whole, we are immensely proud of all that we have achieved together, and I have no doubt that we can achieve more greatness moving forward.”

The teams focus now turns to Donington Park on April 15th and 16th where qualifying will be the key to a successful weekend. Work is underway to ensure that the team continue to progress. The cars have shown that they have the pace to run at the front, and now they need to start from near the front of the grid.

BTC Norlin Racing’s team worked exceptionally well, but they were just lacking some luck at Brands Hatch, however there are another 27 races left to show what the team are made of.