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BTCC 2019 Brands Hatch

brands hatch

Kidderminster’s Dan Rowbottom made his Kwik Fit British Touring Car Championship debut at Brands Hatch at the weekend, his Cataclean Racing with Ciceley Motorsport Mercedes-Benz A-Class taking two solid finishes at a hectic season-opening weekend.

Dan was thrown in at the deep end when qualifying began, run in damp conditions. It was the first time that Dan had driven the car in the wet and on the Dunlop wet tyre so it was a steep learning curve, but Dan impressed the Ciceley Motorsport engineers by guiding his Cataclean-backed Mercedes to 21stfastest in the 30-car field, the fastest of the three Mercedes-Benz A-Class models.

Raceday dawned foggy and then drizzle before the opening race made tyre choice difficult. Dan, racing the car for the first time and having struggled for grip in qualifying, elected to build confidence by using the wet tyre, but the rain level never increased so the tyre soon lost its edge. “It was alright for the first few laps,” said Dan afterwards. “I got up to 14thwhich was great – running in the points – but then the cars on slicks started to come through and our wet tyre dropped off. I think we may have been to aggressive on set-up so when the tyres did go away, the drop-off was cataclysmic!” Dan battled home to 23rdplace having had his first taste of how frenetic the BTCC can be.

The result put Dan 23rdon the grid for race two and Dan was in optimistic mood. On a drier track, Dan gained one place on the opening lap but then had a tangle with fellow rookie Michael Crees (Volkswagen CC) that put Rowbo on the wet grass and he slithered into the tyre barrier. That damaged the radiator and he was forced to retire from the race.

That led to a Herculean effort by the Ciceley Motorsport engineers to get the Cataclean Racing car on to the grid for race three. Dan started from the pit lane at the rear of the 30-car field and tigered his way up to 23rdby the end of the race, picking off places as he gained in confidence in the car. Although disappointed not to have been in the points, the mileage gained will stand Dan in good stead for the next races at Donington Park.

“Race three was interesting! We only just got out in time so I have to say thanks to the guys for their efforts. It was important to get out there and gain mileage and I gained a few places as well which was good and I feel more confident now. I’ve seen how manic the racing really is, but it has been a great weekend with the reaction from the fans, and Cataclean Racing has certainly felt the benefits of being in the biggest championship in the UK. I’m looking forward to Donington now and making progress and scoring points.”

The next three races in the Kwik Fit British Touring Car Championship is at Donington Park on April 27/28 with qualifying shown live on itv.com and all the raceday action live on ITV4.

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