Moffats impressive pace goes unrewarded after stunning Brands Hatch performance

Published on: 10/04/2018 14:15:00

  • Best ever start to Dunlop MSA British Touring Car Championship season
  • Two points-scoring finishes and brilliant race lead in race two
  • Laser Tools Racing Mercedes-Benz A-Class shows excellent pace

Laser Tools Racing’s Aiden Moffat kicked off his 2018 Dunlop MSA British Touring Car Championship campaign at Brands Hatch, Kent, last weekend, with one of the most competitive weekends of his career that sadly went unrewarded thanks to overly robust driving from his rivals.

Aiden’s weekend began with 17th fastest time in the 30-minute qualifying session, in which finding clear track space on the 1.2-mile circuit was very difficult with 32 cars on track at once. Although just three-tenths of a second away from pole, Aiden commented: “That makes a big difference around here when it is such a short lap. We’ll see what we can do tomorrow and make some progress.”

Raceday was wet with overnight rain washing away any rubber laid down in qualifying and rain continued to fall for much of the morning. That meant that the cars had to cope with a slippery track for the opening race with a lack of grip and plenty of spray to contend with.

From 17th on the grid, Aiden made his way up to 13th place early on, before he suffered a brush with reigning champion Ash Sutton (Subaru Levorg). The contact did enough to knock the front tracking out of line, leaving Aiden with a car that no longer handled as he wanted it to, doubly difficult on the slippery surface. Aiden had no option but to go defensive and hang on to 14th place, taking points but wondering what might have been…

“The car felt strong at the start,” said Aiden.  “I had a couple of knocks and that put the front tracking out — and I had front-end understeer so all I could do was defend.”

Race 2 Gamble Pays Off
Aiden started race two from 14th on the grid, on a wet road that was drying fast. He made the gamble to start on slick tyres and turned in a superb drive as the track dried out. “It really was a gamble,” admitted Aiden, “as many fellow competitors had chosen the wet tyres.

“But we went with the slicks, aware that on the initial few (wet) laps I may lose a few places.”

Indeed, he fell back to P23. “But by lap 10 the road was working for the dry-weather rubber and the grip was back!”

Now Aiden stormed into contention. Gaining places on every lap, including four places on one lap alone, Aiden took the lead with five laps to go. 

Behind him, Senna Proctor’s Vauxhall Astra was also running slick tyres and caught up with the Laser Tools Racing Mercedes-Benz A-Class. On the greasy track, a very careless move nudged the Scotsman at the Druids Hairpin. That pushed Aiden wide enough to hook a wheel onto the slippery, painted white line on the edge of the track and the car savagely lost traction, sliding sideways off the road. 

Aiden came back on to the track but Proctor was where he needed to be and the two clashed, the contact spearing the Mercedes into the tyre barriers. Amazingly, Aiden bounced off and, shedding bodywork, brought the car home in fifth place to huge applause from the Laser Tools Racing team and the fans.

Aiden, inevitably, was dejected. “It feels like that was a win I had taken away. I was defending well and he made a mistake and just gave me a little push but in these conditions it had serious consequences. I think everyone saw the incident on ITV4’s coverage so they know that it wasn’t my mistake but while fifth sounds OK as a result, I know that it should have been a win.”

Aiden had one more race to go and had to pick himself up and try again. On the reverse grid draw, he started the final race from P2 and was running third until eventual winner Tom Ingram found a way past and then Mike Bushell’s Volkswagen CC clattered into Aiden at Clearways, Bushell failing to slow the car down sufficiently and using the Flying Scotsman as a brake. 

“That damaged the right rear corner and the car just wouldn’t drive in a straight line after that,” said Aiden. “Again, it makes you wonder what might have been, because I was confident that if I defended the race would come to me, but I never got that chance. 

“However, we leave Brands Hatch having proved the car is fast and that I can race at the front and defend when leading and not make mistakes under pressure, but we could have had one, maybe two wins. We’ll have to regroup for Donington Park, where I won last year, and come out fighting.”

Aiden’s weekend, with 14th, fifth and 21st as his results, put him 14th in the Dunlop MSA British Touring Car Championship and ninth in the Independents’ Championship. Laser Tools Racing lies 15th in the teams’ Championship, with the next races being at Donington Park on April 28/29, live and exclusive on ITV4.