Impressive Infiniti debut for Moffat in BTCC showdown
A new car didn’t faze our Laser Tools Racing star Aiden Moffat as he guided his new Infiniti Q50 to two top-20 finishes at Snetterton, Norfolk, over the weekend of August 3-4.
After a frustrating start to the Kwik Fit British Touring Car Championship season, Aiden and his Laser Tools Racing team decided to use the second half of the 2019 season to regroup and work towards 2020. The decision was made to use the recently purchased rear-wheel drive Infiniti Q50, a car that had been raced in the BTCC back in 2015 but needed to undergo a significant amount of work to bring it up to current specification, with many of the parts on the car being redundant. A Herculean effort by the Laser Tools Racing team meant that the car was shaken down at the Snetterton tyre test in early July, but this BTCC Snetterton race weekend was viewed as an extension of the test programme with a view to coming out fighting in 2020.
“We felt that the Mercedes-Benz A-Class had pretty much peaked in its development,” explained Aiden, “And to be really competitive you need a rear-wheel drive car. The Infiniti is a slippery shape as well as rear-wheel drive so we decided to take the pain now in readiness for next year.”
The car gained pace across the two free practice sessions at Snetterton and one further step in qualifying. Starting 29th on the grid on the Dunlop soft tyre, Aiden had an outstanding opening race and rocketed up into 17th place, narrowly missing out on a points-scoring finish but winning Dunlop’s Forever Forward award for most places gained in the race.
“That was fantastic! The car just gets better and better each time out as we learn about rear-wheel drive and I get used to driving it. We have a new front end coming for Thruxton that will have better cooling and aero and will give us better race, but to get up to 17th from the back was great! I really enjoyed that race and it shows those doubters why we have gone this route and the potential in the car.”
For race two, Aiden started on the Dunlop medium tyre and suffered contact on lap one with Dan Rowbottom’s Mercedes; this damaged his front right corner and affected his steering. “To be in the top 20 again is way ahead of what we expected,” said Aiden. “I reckon that could have been even better as the car wasn’t perfect after the contact at the start but to get a second top-20 finish out of the box is great. I’m really enjoying developing the car and learning about it and now we can see the steps forward are big ones, everyone in the Laser Tool Racing team is buoyed by this. We’re looking good!”
Race three was a little more difficult as the regulations forced Aiden to use the third Dunlop tyre compound, the hard tyre which takes longer for drivers to get up to operating temperature. Not only was it Aiden’s third ever race in the car, but his first with rear-wheel drive and the hard compound meaning another learning curve was undertaken. The blue and white Infiniti raced to 21st place, just missing out on a third top-20 result but highlighting the potential in the car.
“That was tougher! We need to learn how to switch on the hard compound tyre but, that aside, we have seen the car get faster across the weekend, we have learnt a huge amount about it, and we know that more upgrades and modifications for Thruxton will reap dividends. Importantly as well, we have finished all three races with no mechanical problems or reliability issues and that helps our learning process because we have all this data to look at now. We are closer to the pace than we expected to be which is fantastic on our race debut with the car, and I am really looking forward to Thruxton because you need good aero there and the Infiniti has a slippery shape. Thruxton can’t come soon enough.”
The Kwik Fit British Touring Car Championship hits the track again in just two weeks time, at Thruxton, Hampshire, on August 1718. Qualifying on Saturday will be shown live on itv.com and the raceday action will be live on ITV4.