20 April 2017
Race one at Donington Park started with Chris and Dave in 20th and 22nd on the grid, which was an improvement on qualifying from Brands Hatch.
However, there was still a lot of work to do to achieve the results that the team wanted at Donington Park.
“We struggled in qualifying and I was making the best off my P20” said Chris Smiley. “However, this was short-lived as Tom Chilton collided with me on lap 6 at Mclean’s which resulted in a DNF for both of us.”
Dave Newsham echoed his team-mates comments “We struggled in qualifying, which is maybe an area that we need to work on.”
Not one to dwell, Dave added “Sunday was another day so we won’t get too caught up on our qualifying session. In race one we opted to use the option (hard) tyre in this race as we knew it would be a poor performance so it was really damage limitation.”
“I finished in 20th which I was happy with. We weren’t far off the pace and the only other driver with the option tyre in this race was Tom Ingram, and our race pace against him was good if not better.”
After Smiley’s collision in race one resulted in a DNF, this left the Carrickfergus driver starting in 26th. Chris started the race on the less preferable hard tyre and fought back to 17th, which was as far as the hard tyre could get him.
“Race two was an absolute cracker!” said fellow Chevrolet driver Dave, who also fought his way through the pack by making his way from 20th to 8th. This finish allowed Newsham to avail of the reverse grid draw which meant that he would start race three in pole position!
Chris started race three at Donington Park in P17, which put him in the thick of the action.
“I started very well in an extremely wet race, which saw me make my way up to 8th on the first lap but the race was unfortunately stopped” said Chris.
“On the restart of the third race I had a clutch issue which resulted in me starting from the pit lane. I done the best I could by battling my way through again in the extremely tough conditions and finished in 17th. Moving onto Thruxton we should hopefully have more luck!”
Race three presented Dave with an amazing opportunity to give the team a place on the podium.
However, the heavens opened and it turned into a wet race. “We have had zero testing in the wet so I was disappointed when the rain came” said Newsham.
“On the upside, we made a good start and we lead our first laps. Gordon Shedden had more pace and passed me cleanly.”
“Some laps later I was starting to lose front grip from my tyres and Colin Turkington passed me.”
“I then had Ash Sutton in his Subaru bearing down on me and after a few laps he passed me as well. This left me in P4 and I clung onto him the best I could.”
“It was the final lap and I was desperate to score BTC Norlin Racing our first podium! I lunged down the inside of Ash into turn one. The move stuck and I’m back in a podium place!”
“Struggling to hold on and with no grip left, both Ash Sutton and Adam Morgan got an overlap on me heading into the final chicane. My mind was trying to work out the best solution to this so I decided to brake late and hope that I could get across the front of Adam.”
“Unfortunately, Adam broke just as late as me and performed a ‘block pass’. I almost came to a complete stop as there was no track left for me. I crossed the line in P5 and I was absolutely gutted! That didn’t last long as seeing the delight on my teams faces instantly cheered me up. These guys work so hard!”
“I have to remind myself that this is only our second race meeting, so we can only get stronger. Also, I have to say the driving standard all weekend was excellent – very close, clean and enjoyable racing!”
Speaking from the test day at Thruxton on 20th April, Bert Taylor said “I am so pleased with our progress at Donington Park from the weekend.”
“We showed that as a team we have the pace and Dave finished so close to the podium and that makes us want to push harder.”
“We have a great team of people, and we know that we can be challenging at the front soon.”
Photography: Jay Adair