Improved pace for the Infiniti Q50 at Thruxton
British Touring Car Championship star Aiden Moffat battled to three more solid finishes at Thruxton, Hampshire, at the weekend as his new Laser Tools Racing Infiniti Q50 continues its development for the 2020 season.
Having never driven the car at the UK’s fastest circuit before, Aiden treated the two free practice sessions as testing, as he and his race engineer Federico Turrata worked through a raft of changes and improvements on the car. Key was a new front end that allowed better cooling and an increase in horsepower.
“When we tested the car initially,” explained Turrata, “We were last in the times but now we regularly have a group of cars behind us and the number in that group is growing as we go faster so we are definitely going in the right direction.”
Aiden finished qualifying 25th fastest meaning that he had work to do in the opening race, in which he fought up to 18th place and finished second in Dunlop’s Forever Forward contest that rewards drivers for improving on their starting positions.
“The car felt good in that race,” commented Aiden. “I’m still learning rear-wheel drive and we have no experience of it here but we have made big changes to the car over the weekend so far and it is taking us in the right direction.”
However, in race two, the car struggled with its tyres. “I couldn’t get the tyres to switch on which meant that I didn’t have the grip and the confidence to really push,” said Aiden. “They did start to work later in the race but, by that stage, I’d lost ground, so we need to work on getting the tyres to spring into life much earlier. We’ll go back and have a look at the data and see what we can do to work around that issue, but it’s all part of developing a new car. We believe rear-wheel drive is the way to go and lots of people are interested in the car and its progress.”
Aiden finished 24th in race two, partly a result of his tyre drama, but also a legacy of an incident with the Subaru of Senna Proctor.
Race three started on a dry road but with grey clouds looming as Aiden and the team looked to see if their efforts on the set-up had worked. The cooler temperatures threw them a curved ball as the Dunlop hard tyre would work differently from how it had operated in race two when the air temperature was warmer, but Aiden battled his way to the fringes of the points-scorers, only for the heavens to open five laps from home! With all the cars on slick tyres, designed for a dry track, it was a case of survival rather than any heroics. He brought the Laser Tools Racing Infiniti Q50 home in 21st place, after its first ever wet running.
“I was sideways everywhere for the last few laps,” said Aiden post-race. “That was really difficult because it was just a case of hanging on and being brave!
“However the car felt better and we’ll do a test before Knockhill which is where we race next. I really want to do well there as it is my home track, so we will work hard to get on top of the areas that need addressing.
“The main positive that we take is how much closer to the pack we are getting. This car has now done six races with us and one test, that’s all. When we first drove it, the Infiniti’s best lap was five seconds down on the fastest car. Now, in race three here at Thruxton before the rain, the Laser Tools Racing Infiniti was just over half a second off the fastest car so we have made amazing progress.
“We aren’t done yet, so we are all confident that we will be even more competitive at each round before the end of the season. Our main area is to work on the rear-end to increase the grip and get the tyres working — that will make a massive difference.
“This is a very public programme ready for next season and we are making progress every time the car turns a wheel, so I am much more optimistic heading to Knockhill and to see how we go on a very different circuit with a short, sharp lap.”
The Kwik Fit British Touring Car Championship moves to Knockhill, Dunfermline, on September 14/15. Qualifying will be shown live on itv.com with all the raceday action live on ITV4 on Sunday, September 15.