BTCC — Thruxton May 28-29
Thruxton was the venue for round three of the Kwik Fit MSA British Touring Car Championship — the fastest circuit on the calendar and the only circuit to have its own special tyre as the normal medium compounds can’t cope with the insane cornering speeds and the very abrasive track surface.
Last time at Thruxton for pre-season testing, Laser Tools Racing found it a frustrating day, as due to a faulty component, Aiden’s M Sport engine destroyed itself. So we had had limited running on the day and thus limited data coming into this weekend’s round. At 2.356 miles in length, this unique circuit is virtually flat out all the way round apart from the chicane section at the end of the lap.
The Saturday morning test sessions were good for the team, particularly as all of these laps are crucial for Dexter as he learns the car, the hybrid systems and the circuits. In the afternoon qualifying session, in the first five minutes Aiden was flying until he got a puncture! When he got back out on track there was only eight minutes of the session left. So he had to settle for a P17 for the start of Sunday’s first race with Dexter in P26.
Off the line, Aiden seemed slightly slow to get on his way on the inside line by the pit wall and was under attack by turn one. He was soon into his stride however and was able to keep his place. Dexter meanwhile got a good start and was soon pressurising those above him. Aiden was quick early on and set his fastest lap of the race on lap 4 before a combination of tyre wear and an erratic hybrid system started to impact him in the middle part of the race. He was pleased to finish up a place at the end in 15th position.
Dexter’s tyres seemed to start slowly and then came into their own with him managing his fastest lap on lap 11 and at the end he was really pleased to have made up five places during the race to finish 20th.
With Cosworth engineers working hard to sort the faulty hybrid system on Aiden’s car (again), the start of the race saw both cars make good getaways, but then disaster struck for Aiden as his offside bonnet catch came loose. On the quickest circuit in the UK the risk of a bonnet flying up doesn’t bear thinking about, and in addition to the risk, this devastates the aero on the front end of the car, so Aiden had to pit and get the bonnet taped down.
Dexter meanwhile was going well for the first half of the race before he had a slight power loss. He had just made an overtake before the incident struck, but managed to get the car going again. Sadly on the next lap he lost all throttle and had to pull off and retire. It turned out to be a failed throttle body and the team worked hard to get the car ready for the final race.
Aiden managed to get back out on track and for a while was running a very similar pace to the leaders, although having sat out for two laps he was unable to make much progress. At the end of Race 2, it was Aiden in 25th and Dexter in 26th.
As the lights went out, both cars got a good start and were running well until a crash in front of them (remember last time at Brands Hatch?), brought out the safety car and in the melee that followed, both our cars were tagged by others. Worse was to follow, as although cars were reported for overtaking the Laser Tools’ cars under the safety car, that still left them with track position. Aiden was then able to get up some speed, and his best lap time of a 1.17.549 was actually quicker than the 10th placed car of Rory Butcher. Unfortunately though, with all of the traffic in front of him he was only able to make up a (still brilliant) eight places to finish 17th
Dexter was also enjoying a good race, and was up to 24th from 26th, before a rear left suspension failure forced him off track and out of the race. So, it is on to Oulton Park on the weekend of June 11-12 knowing that we have great drivers and a good basic car. We just need a bit of luck to go our way!