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BTCC 2019 Thruxton


Cataclean Racing-backed Dan Rowbottom finished his third weekend in the Kwik Fit British Touring Car Championship with three solid drives but with disappointment in the final race when a technical problem stopped him trackside.

For Kidderminster race ace Dan, Thruxton was an important weekend after mixed weather conditions at the first two events had limited the amount of learning that could be achieved. The Cataclean Mercedes-Benz A-Class battled to 21stin qualifying, with Dan, along with the other Mercedes drivers, hunting for a better set-up.

“It’s odd,” he said. “We were all here testing recently and yet today the track feels different and so does the car! We can’t get to the bottom of whether it is the new track surface or the car itself, but the car isn’t behaving as I want it to so we need to have a good look at options for raceday.”

Dan’s opening race began with a slow start (“My fault – all part of learning, I guess!”) but he was buoyed by the car feeling better and he soon won back lost places and moved up to 19thby the end of the race.

“The car certainly felt better but not perfect yet. I need to make it more compliant to really be able to wring the most out of it, but again the Cataclean Racing with Ciceley Motorsport guys have worked really hard to move the car forward.”

Dan moved up to 17thin race two, despite being in a multi-car train with everyone going for the same piece of road. Despite the good race pace, his efforts went unrewarded as he was given a drive-through penalty after being adjudged to have exceeded track limits at the chicane.

“I didn’t feel like I was using more kerb than the others I was racing against, but the Judge of Fact said that I did and there’s no arguing with that. I took the penalty and that dropped me to 24thbut I was pleased with how the car felt and with my own racecraft: I had gained places, I was fending off people behind and I felt a lot more confident.”

From 24thon the grid for the final race, Dan fought up to 18thplace before light contact with the rear of Jake Hill’s Audi spelled disaster. “It didn’t feel like much but the contact seemed to damage the alternator and so going through the fast left-hander of Noble, the electrics stopped, the power steering switched off and I was a passenger on the grass. That was a real shame because I was really happy with the car and was aiming for points but it wasn’t to be. What was encouraging was how good the car felt compared to Saturday and how much progress we had made. I am looking forward to Croft because I have gone well there in Clios and each time out in the BTCC I feel like we are getting stronger.”

With three weekends gone in the Kwik Fit British Touring Car Championship, Dan can reflect on the first part of his season. “It’s been tougher than I expected! Everyone tells you how hard the BTCC is, and you nod and agree, but nothing prepares you for just how full-on a weekend it really is. Saturday is intense because with limited testing, you have to make the most of free practice to get a good car for qualifying and that is vital because the better you are, the further up the grid you are and away from midfield madness. I am learning about how to structure a weekend. The style of racing is different: it’s fierce and frantic and I am getting more confident with that and I am learning about a new car, a new team and new engineers, so all the time things are slotting into place. The rain at Brands Hatch and Donington didn’t help to build confidence but Thruxton certainly was a big step forward as it was effectively dry all weekend, so we’ve learnt a lot over two days.

“Cataclean and I are in this for the long haul and I want to be winning races of course, but we need to build and build over the season. Points are the first target, then podiums and then wins and I feel that we are capable of scoring points for the top 15 now because we are a more confident package than at the start of the season.

“From Cataclean’s point of view, the season has been a great success so far. We have sold a huge amount of product at events, there are fans in Cataclean team gear which is great to see and the product has reached a massive audience so on and off-track, things are really positive.”

Rowbo’s next races in the Kwik Fit British Touring Car Championship are at Croft, North Yorkshire, on June 15/16 with the raceday action live on ITV4.

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