2021 BTCC Brands Hatch - Race Report
Poles, podiums and points for Halfords Racing with Cataclean at Brands Hatch
Top British Touring Car Championship team Halfords Racing with Cataclean is celebrating another front-running weekend at Brands Hatch with a maiden pole position for Dan Rowbottom and second place in race one for Gordon Shedden.
After a stunning effort in qualifying, Dan took his first ever BTCC pole position, his Halfords Racing with Cataclean Honda Civic ending the session just five-thousandths of a second ahead of Gordon, the Team Dynamics-run cars locking out the front row of the grid.
On the tricky cambered startline, Dan bogged down a little at the start and lost ground as Flash powered ahead, but both fell victim to the fast-starting rear-wheel drive BMW of Tom Oliphant which assumed the race lead. Dan dropped to seventh in the opening lap traffic jam, but soon powered his way through the traffic to claim third place, thus taking his first podium result in the BTCC. Gordon, after his better start, ran ahead of Dan but lost ground in the early laps behind fellow Scot Aiden Moffat, whose wide Laser Tools Racing Infiniti Q50 hung on to second place. Eventually, Gordon flashed by, but Oliphant’s lead was a large one. That didn’t deter the Flying Scotsman who charged up on to the tail of the BMW, missing out on the win by just 0.188s! With Gordon second and Dan third, it was the best result of the season for the two Halfords Racing with Cataclean Hondas.
“I’m disappointed not to win,” said Gordon, “but I lost so much time in the first few laps behind Aiden. My car felt really good but I just couldn’t get going soon enough.”
Drama hit Gordon, twice, in race two. First he was tagged into a massive slide at the first corner which dropped him down the field and then contact with Stephen Jelley’s BMW a lap later damaged his car and led to a trip through the gravel trap. Gordon battled on, 21st his reward with a damaged car. Dan, however, was soon on the tail of race leader Oliphant and, despite attentions from the pack behind and 57 kilos of success ballast, made a move at Druids on the outside line. Oliphant ran Dan out wide and as he regained the circuit, Rowbo lost ground to Tom Ingram’s Hyundai and then Ash Sutton’s Infiniti meaning that fourth was his reward after a grittily determined drive.
Dan started ninth on the grid for race three, with Gordon 21st, Rowbo now with 48 kilos of success weight, but with the reverse grid giving lighter cars ahead a better chance, Dan battled home to 11th place with Flash taking 16th and just missing out on points.
Dan maintained his lead in the Jack Sears Trophy for drivers who hadn’t scored an overall podium result before the start of the season. Rowbo won the Jack Sears Trophy in all three races, netting eight individual wins from nine races, and being the best scorer at each event this season to extend his championship lead.
“That was quite a weekend,” said Dan. “To get pole was amazing, I made a pants start but to be racing for a win with Tom Oliphant in race two was a great feeling, just showing everyone that I can do it and be up there. Race three was tough with the weight but the car was good all weekend, I have learnt a lot, taken my first pole and first podium and extended my Jack Sears Trophy lead, so I can’t complain too much! Now to Oulton Park and Cataclean’s home circuit. I can’t wait.”
The results of the weekend put Dan seventh in the championship and Gordon 12th, with Dan third in the Independent Drivers’ Championship. Halfords Racing with Cataclean lies fifth in the BTCC Teams’ standings and third in the Independent Teams’ Championship.
The next stop for the British Touring Car Championship is Oulton Park, Cheshire, on July 31st/August 1st. Qualifying will be shown on itv.com/btcc and all the raceday action will be live on ITV4 on August 1st.