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Rowbottom delivers best-ever BTCC weekend for Cataclean Racing

Kidderminster-based British Touring Car Championship rookie Dan Rowbottom enjoyed his best weekend to date in the UK’s premier race series, with three top 20 finishes capped with a points-scoring result at Thruxton, Hampshire.

In his first season in the Kwik Fit British Touring Car Championship, Dan headed to Thruxton in optimistic mood having raced there earlier in the season and hence having data, knowledge and confidence in his armoury. In addition, a change of engineering personnel at Ciceley Motorsport meant that his Cataclean Racing Mercedes-Benz A-Class was transformed. Experienced race engineers Paul Ridgway and Steve Farrell made an instant improvement to the car.

“Straight away in free practice the car felt more comfortable, but strangely I’m now having to unlearn what I knew and learn about what feels like a totally different car. That said, it is so much nicer to drive, I’m so excited about how it feels so I think we can really make progress this weekend.”

Dan qualified the Cataclean Racing entry 21st in the all-important qualifying session, all part of learning about his new, improved Mercedes. “The track feels different from when we were here in May, as though it is more polished, so actually the data and the feel that I had isn’t as valid as you might expect. I was able to get good sectors in but not all strung together, so I think the extra pace is in me rather than the car. It’s all part of a learning process today but I’m looking forward to raceday and getting stuck in.”

From 21st on the grid for the opener, Dan fought his way up into 20th spot, ahead of three previous BTCC race winners. “I had a bit of understeer in that race, which made it a little tricky to drive around the back of the circuit where it is very high speed, but importantly it was mileage, more experience and no damage meaning that we have a good base to work on for race two.”

Rowbo shot the Cataclean Mercedes away from the line but found himself stuck in traffic for the majority of the race, as the ultra-close midfield battle proved to be a tough place to be. “It’s so difficult in the mid-pack because everyone is defending their positions like crazy. It’s a different way of racing because those drivers aren’t thinking of the bigger picture and letting faster cars go, they are purely focussed on not giving up a single place and that defensive driving makes it quite difficult, and often dangerous, to get past. That said, the car felt great again and whilst I need to find that last fraction in the really high-speed corners, I can’t remember feeling this happy with the car all season.”

Dan started race three 20th on the grid and battled his way into the top 15 and the points as the race progressed. Late-race rain made the track like a skating rink as the slick-shod cars struggled for traction, but Rowbo’s racecraft brought him up to 14th place for his third points finish of the season.

“That was really good! The car wasn’t quite where I wanted it to be in races one and two, but we worked on it and it was unbelievable in that one! It just got better until the rain came and then, of course, it became a matter of survival on slicks. I made a small mistake passing Tom Chilton, so I reckon I could have been 12th or 13th, but after the season we’ve had I’m really happy with that last race. It’s the first time I have really felt like I was in the race proper, racing hard and being part of the fight rather than chasing it.

“I’m really pleased with how Ciceley Motorsport has looked at the pace and set-up of the car and the difference that Paul and Steve have made has been instant so I go to Knockhill much more confident now. The season starts here for Cataclean Racing!”

The Kwik Fit British Touring Car Championship moves to Knockhill, Dunfermline, on September 14/15. Qualifying will be shown live on with all the raceday action live on ITV4 on Sunday, September 15.


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