The Dunlop MSA British Touring Car Championship headed to the iconic Silverstone, for the penultimate rounds of the 2018 Championship.
The circuit, with all its history and obvious ties with F1, is a firm fan favourite. With its 6 corners and 1.64 miles length, Silverstone always creates close wheel to wheel action and guarantees a tightly packed grid.
With a mixed forecast of weather predicted, it was all to play for on Sunday. After a frustrating qualifying, which saw both drivers stuck in traffic and hampered by the red flag, Dan lined up on the grid in 16th and Chris Smiley in 20th.
An eventful race one began at 12.10 with Dan starting in 16th position and on the option tyre, he had his work cut out. The race was a challenging one, with battles throughout and many cars sustaining damage to some degree. By the end Dan finished in 16th maintaining his starting position, which a great result for the option tyre.
Chris Smileys race however had a different outcome. After contact with Josh Cook in the middle of the race, Chris was forced to pit for new tyres. Although he was able to get back on track under the safety car, he was one lap down, and ultimately finished the race in 25th position.
As the weather drew in and the wind picked up, race 2 started on time at 14.40. Dan lined up in 16th position, whilst Chris started from the back of the grid after a stewards ruling from race one. With the car performing well with good pace on the option tyre, Chris made up 12 positions, finishing solidly in 18th place.
Dan however, had a turbulent race. With the car feeling good and great pace, he made up several places and looked good for a podium spot. Unfortunately, after some wheel to wheel contact with Tom Chilton, Dan was pushed on to the grass who managed to return to the track and finished in 19th place, with some suspension damage.
Although bitterly disappointed Dan said “it’s a shame that it ended that way. With a great start and a great car under me, I was expecting a top ten result. It’s hard as I would have finished behind Aiden Moffat, which would have put me second on the grid after the reverse draw.”
The beginning of race 3 saw a few spots of rain hit the track, unfortunately not enough to demand wet tyres. With many of the drivers in front either carrying ballast or on the option tyre, Chris and Dan were in an ideal position to finish in the top ten. Unfortunately, Chris was involved in an incident on lap three, getting caught in someone else’s fight, he ended his day in the gravel. Dan continued to have good pace and even with a safety car, adding three laps to the race, he finished strong in 15th position inside the points.
Despite a challenging race day, there are some positives to take away. Both cars showed impressive pace, with both drivers feeling happy and settled with their set ups. This puts the team in a good place for Brands Hatch for the final rounds of the championship.
Team Manager Bert Taylor, was reflective, “I think this is a case of what may have been. Both cars had amazing pace, constantly keeping good times against those who took top points. It is a shame that circumstances outside of our control impacted on what could have been a great haul of points. We will put this round to bed and look ahead to Brands Hatch in a few weeks’ time.”
The weekend saw mixed results for Chris Smiley, “It was a day with no real luck or fortune but my Type R had plenty of pace! In race one a puncture left me a lap down.
“Race two I battled from 31st on the grid to 18th on the massively slower hard tyres and race three saw me make good process at the start, but I was spun into the gravel on lap three. It was a big frustration but our pace makes up for some of the disappointments! I am really looking forward to Brands Hatch GP in two weeks’ time where I know that the Honda will be strong. Big thanks to all of the team and sponsors for the weekend.”
Dan Lloyd was disappointed, “I think it was a day that could have been. We had great tactics in choosing the hard tyre for race one to get it out the way. In race two I started in 16th, confirming that the car had great pace as I made my way up to 8th place before getting knocked off the circuit. Personally I think I would have had a chance of finishing in the top five in this race if I hadn’t been knocked off.
“Race three was a struggle for me as I was getting caught up in a lot of incidents. It was made worse by the fact the reverse grid would have put me second if I had not been knocked off and we really could have won. A weekend of great work by the team, and the car had exceptional pace, which is all we ask for but unfortunately there are many things that we had no control over, so it is just a weekend of what could have been.”
Chris Smiley – 13th
Dan Lloyd – 19th
BTC Norlin Racing – 9th
Independent Drivers Championship
Chris Smiley – 6th
Dan Lloyd – 12th
Independent Teams Championship
BTC Norlin Racing – 5th
Jack Sears Trophy
Chris Smiley – 2nd
Dan Lloyd – 8th
Photography: Phil Laughton