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|STR end the season on a high|
|18 Oct 2011 08:07|
Special Tuning Racing enjoyed their most competitive showing at Silverstone last Sunday in the final round of the Dunlop MSA British Touring Car Championship. A third place finish for Tom Boardman, two career-best finishes for Dave Newsham and four top-ten finishes sealed off a superb weekend for the team.
It wasn’t the start to the weekend that Tom was hoping for though. Starting from tenth in the first of the day’s races, he looked to be going well and had got the upper-hand on local rival Frank Wrathall off the line. Unsettled by the car’s race set-up though, he lost a couple of places five laps later, dropping to twelfth position behind team-mate Dave. Up to eighth following a puncture for Jason Plato and a drive-through penalty for Tom Chilton, he saw an opportunity to leap up to sixth when Dave and Andrew Jordan made contact ahead. But as he dived through, Rob Collard came alongside him. As the pair exited Luffield corner, Collard struck Tom’s rear wheel and the impact broke the SEAT’s rear suspension, ending Tom’s race.
Starting from 13th, Dave had made his way up to ninth by lap sixteen. Battling for eighth after closing the gap on Andrew Jordan, he made a dive down the inside at Brooklands on lap 20. Trying to block the move, Jordan forced Dave out on to the grass. But with nowhere to go, Dave was unable to avoid contact with Jordan and he tipped the Vectra driver sideways. Emerging in eighth, Dave then got the jump on Andy Neate on the penultimate lap and gained another spot when Mat Jackson suffered a puncture. Crossing the line in sixth, this was his best result of the season, beating his previous best of 7th recorded at Snetterton.
“I really enjoyed that!” said Dave, clearly delighted after the race. “I stuck to my brief and sat there staying out of trouble, waiting to see if anything happened ahead. I think I was quicker than Jordan throughout the race, but not quick enough to make a safe, clean pass. But he was starting to struggle and I thought I’m going for it. I lunged down the inside and he just saw me too late. I was alongside him and he closed the door. He put me on the grass and I couldn’t stop and went into the side of him. It was a 50-50 incident though as far as I’m concerned.”
“The car was great throughout the race. We’re definitely top-ten pace when everything’s good,” he continued.
Tom has certainly made great starts one of his trade-mark moves this season and it was no different here. Following the non-finish in race one, he started the second from 23rd, climbing ten places to 13th in the space of just one lap. Despite a close shave with Liam Griffin on the second lap, he continued his ascent, moving into eighth by lap six. With the SEAT showing incredible pace, it wasn’t long before he had closed down and passed Tom Chilton and Rob Collard going into sixth by lap 12. When the safety car was called for an incident on lap 14, the pack closed up, and Tom came under pressure from Plato over the final couple of laps. Tom firmly held on though, and crossed the finish line in sixth place.
After the race, Tom said: “That has to be one of the best races I’ve had all season! I know my win at Knockhill was good, but that felt great. The car was perfect, everything felt just right.”
“The main aim had been just to get in to the top-ten, although I didn’t honestly think I was going to do it. But I just relaxed and got a really good start. Everyone seemed to be going everywhere at the start and I was counting down the laps seeing the numbers tumble on my pit-board. It all just came together. Good race, good result. We’ve turned the weekend around now. It’s perfect for the team!” he continued.
Full of confidence, Dave got a strong start passing Alex MacDowall in the first lap. With Rob Collard in his sights, he stormed into fourth just two laps later. Determined not to lose out at the restart after the safety car deployment, he got away well, doing a brilliant job to keep in touch with the leaders. Withstanding pressure from Andy Jordan in the closing stages, Dave went on to finish fourth at the chequered flag, claiming another career best and continuing his finest weekend of the year.
“That was fantastic! The car felt great, couldn’t fault it,” exclaimed Dave. “I couldn’t hang on to the back of Onslow-Cole’s Ford but I was willing him to get on with it and not worry about me – I wanted that fourth!”
“When the pace car came out though, I thought that’s going to throw a spanner into the works. But I got a really good start and pulled a couple of car lengths from Andy Jordan. Andy bridged a bit of a gap and probably got within a second or so but couldn’t get any further and I held on.” he added.
As a result of the top nine driver reverse grid, Tom started the third race in fourth, determined to finish the final race of the season on a high. He made a strong start, but immediately got entangled in a brawl with Andrew Jordan. As the two duelled for fourth, Tom ran wide out of Becketts, but made an incredible save to keep the position. With the momentum behind him, Tom’s was the fastest car in the early stages and he passed Alex MacDowall on lap three for third - a potential podium finish beckoning. Despite MacDowall’s best efforts, hustling him for several laps, Tom held his ground brilliantly, finishing in a thoroughly-deserved third place.
After the race, an ecstatic Tom said: “Just fantastic! I’m over the moon. Obviously, it wasn’t a win but it feels like one. To come out of the final race of the season with a third, I’m well happy. I wish that it had been like that all season! We’ve had our ups and downs this year and a lot of bad luck, but we’ve definitely proved that we’ve got two real competitive cars. I think if they give us a bit of leeway to develop our engines, we can definitely be fighting for the championship next year.”
Unfortunately for Dave, his race ended abruptly on lap six. Having started from sixth, he ran wide into the first corner which was to cost him four places. Not to be thwarted though, he was soon back in contention. Having got alongside and past Andy Neate, the Ford driver then made strong contact on the rear of the SEAT at Brooklands breaking the car’s rear suspension and forcing Dave to retire from the race.
"I made a good start but Jordan cut right across my nose,” said Dave afterwards. “I thought I can’t slow down with this momentum so I went round the outside into the first corner, but lost the rear on the marbles and went completely sideways. I gathered it up and got going again though. Then I had Neate for company going into Maggots. I got round the outside down the straight and we were side by side. I turned in to Brooklands thinking he had to back out because you can’t go too wide there and next thing I got a huge wallop on the right rear and he’s run into me, game over. Not the way I wanted to end the season, but we’ve had a fantastic day otherwise.”
Tom finished the season the season eighth in the Independent drivers’ table and eleventh in the overall championship. Dave finished in eleventh in the Independent drivers’ table and fifteenth overall. Special Tuning Racing finished ninth and seventh respectively in the outright and Independent teams’ championships.
Photo Credit: Marc Waller MW Motorsport Media