The sun was out, the spectator banks around the circuit were packed and BTC Norlin Racing were ready for some race day action at North Yorkshire’s Croft Circuit.
Dan Lloyd lined up in his 11th place grid slot and Chris Smiley in 23rd. All 32 cars thundered into the first corner, when another competitor left the circuit which brought out the safety car. Dan had already got himself into 9th place and Chris was up into 20th. Lap 13 saw Dan pass a spinning Andrew Jordan and finished the race in 8th place. Dan scored his first points and put himself in a great place to start from in race two. Teammate Smiley made further progress up the pack and finished his race in 17th.
In race two Chris had a great start and by the end of the first lap he was running 15th. More progress was made and by the end of lap 13 he had made his way up to 11th. Unfortunately concerns over his engine temperatures caused him to back off slightly and he ended the race in 12th. After taking the chequered flag, Chris parked his car up on the circuit and the team set about changing his engine as a precaution for the next race.
Race two also seen Dan off to a good start even though he was struggling with the hard tyre option, which he was running in the race. He finished the race in 9th and was then promoted to pole position for race three, following the reverse grid draw.
The time between race two and race three was tense for the team. With one side of the garage undertaking an engine change and the other half preparing to start the race from pole position. Everyone on the team got their heads down and got stuck in, in preparation for what was to be the team’s greatest chance of a race win since it was created during the winter of 2016.
After a mammoth effort by the team, Chris lined up on the grid with his newly installed engine in 17th place and Dan took to pole position. Dan set about achieving the team’s first race win by increasing his lead on Tom Chilton each lap. He took the chequered flag with almost six seconds over the second placed car and with the team celebrating over the pit wall in celebration.
Chris’ race ended prematurely on lap 5 when an incident saw him spinning off the track and parking his car on the infield.
Race three saw Dan produce an immaculate drive that led to a lights-to-flag victory, the fastest lap of the race, a maiden win for BTC Norlin Racing, his first BTCC race win, the Independent win and the Jack Sears win! An incredible list of achievements for only his second weekend in the BTC Norlin Racing Honda Civic Type R!
With only 18 months back in the Championship, Team Boss Bert Taylor was visibly proud of the team’s best result to date.
“I am so proud of what we achieved here at Croft. It has been a difficult couple of weeks since the damage sustained to both cars at Oulton Park. The team have had to work very hard to get both Honda’s ready for this weekend and the weekend has been challenging for many reasons.
“I am thrilled for Dan on securing his first win in the Championship and I couldn’t be happier that we have been able to give him the car to not only get the job done but to produce such a dominant win.
“It has been difficult day for Chris as he has struggled with the cooling of his engine, but he has shown he has the pace and he will bounce back stronger at Snetterton. I am leaving Croft proud of the team and what we have here at BTC Norlin Racing. I’m excited to see what the rest of the season has in store.”
Chris didn’t get the rub of the green today at Croft, but he was grateful for all the hard work that the team put in to get the cars ready. “It was an unlucky day today as I had the pace in the car but I suffered from overheating issues in race two and three, which really hurt us. I can’t thank the team enough for having me back out in race three. They done an amazing job with the engine change in such a short space of time! I am over the moon for my team mate Dan for winning his first BTCC race. Bring on Snetterton!”
Taking just four days in the car, to get himself on the top step of one of the most competitive podiums in motorsport, Dan was grateful for the opportunity to get back to BTCC.
“It’s been an amazing weekend! Massive thank you for the team who worked incredibly hard to get my car rebuilt after Oulton Park. They put in long hours and had two late night finishes at the track to get everything sorted for Sunday.”
“We started on the back foot this weekend and being P28 in FP1 there was a lot that we needed to do. We worked hard over Saturday, making some big changes to the car to suit me a lot more, which I was really happy with and even into race day we were still tweaking the car a lot to make improvements, even up to race three.
“It was only my 4th day in the car, so we are still learning a lot. It wasn’t just a win, it was much more than that for us, as we had to put in so much to just be there, which makes it even more special. I can’t thank the team and our sponsors enough and it was perfect that the team’s first win fell on the same weekend as the 50th year of the Isle of Wight Festival, who are one of our sponsors. I couldn’t be happier with the race win – it means a lot to us all.”
Photography: Phil Laughton