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BTCC 2019 Croft

Croft

Cataclean Racing’s Dan Rowbottom showed great pace as the Kwik Fit British Touring Car Championship hit Croft, North Yorkshire, at the weekend.

In his rookie season in the ultra-competitive BTCC, Rowbo used the free practice sessions to gain experience and to work on set-up of the car. However the all-important qualifying session turned out to be a lottery with five red flags interrupting the session and the front-wheel drive teams struggling to string together a sequence of laps to get a time. Dan was able to get one flier in amidst all the stoppages to take his best qualifying position yet of 14thon the grid for race one.

“That was down to luck!” joked Dan. “Most teams go for two warm-up laps before doing a time but I gambled on doing just one and that helped because I was able to get a time I before another red flag. I suppose I was in the right place at the right time. It’s been hard to gauge how the car feels because we had so little useful running in qualifying and we weren’t helped by rain towards the end either…but it felt OK!”

From 14thon the grid for the opening race, Dan was optimistic but as soon as the race began, he knew he was in strife.

“The car felt different and it turned out to be a damper problem. It wasn’t there in qualifying but it was there today so I had to make the most of what I had in that race, with the rear wheels locking up at times and it certainly didn’t get any better during the race. It was damage limitation, which was frustrating, but 20this not too bad, I guess, in the circumstances.”

From 20thin race one, and therefore 20thon the grid for race two, Dan was eager to make progress but although the pace was good for the first three laps, the set-up seemed to fall away for the remainder of the race.

“I may have been over-driving, but it just seemed to understeer a lot and that became quite a handful. We’ll have a look at the data and eliminate the aspects that may have caused that and work forward for race three.”

Dan’s 21stplace finish in race two put him on the equivalent starting position for the third race, but while trying to leave the crowded paddock to the grid, officials sent the Cataclean Racing Mercedes-Benz to a different access point and that resulted in the pit lane having closed before Dan was able to get on track. Instead of starting 21st, he started last, but was behind any potential dramas on the opening lap…

Dan was on a mission in his Cataclean Racing Mercedes-Benz charging through the field from the very back. Dan had over taken 12 cars by lap 5, three places gained even before the first corner!  This took Dan up to an amazing 16thplace from dead last out of the 30 car grid, surely the drive of the day second only to Andrew Jordan’s faultless wins on race 1 and 2.  After a mid-race safety car period, Dan charged on behind Carl Boardley’s Volkswagen CC but dropped one spot on the last lap as Tom Ingram’s slick-shod Toyota Corolla nipped ahead.

“On the one hand, 17this frustrating because I was so close to the top 15 and scoring points, but the tyres dropped off in the last six laps. I was on wets and they were losing their edge as the road dried. However, you need to look at this being my first season in the BTCC, which is so competitive, and that we had mixed conditions all weekend. I want points, badly, but we are getting closer and I think if I can nail qualifying then that puts me higher up the order to race from. I know that I can do this and along with the Ciceley Motorsport guys we are making progress all the time, so Oulton Park should be another step forward.”

The next three races in the Kwik Fit British Touring Car Championship are at Oulton Park, Cheshire, on June 29/30 with qualifying shown live on itv.com and the three Sunday races live on ITV4.

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