GREAT START FOR ARKAS ON BRANDS HATCH DEBUT
Arkas Racing, the brand new Turkish entrant in the Dunlop MSA British Touring Car Championship, got its maiden season of competition in the UK off to a great start at Brands Hatch Indy Circuit today; Erkut Kizilirmak qualifying inside the top 20 on his first ever competitive visit to the Kent venue.
The 37-year-old, who resides in Istanbul, steadily improved during the day's two free practice sessions and then shaved another 10th of a second off his best time of the weekend to lap the 1.2-mile Indy Circuit in 50.788 seconds (84.96mph) during this afternoon's qualifying session to claim 19th position on the grid for tomorrow's first race.
However, with the news Irish driver Eoin Murray won't take part in Sunday's race due to car damage sustainedin a qualifying accident, Erkut will actually line-upq8th on the grid.
"I'm very happy to start the first race of the year from inside the top 20", commented Erkut after his first ever qualifying session at Brands Hatch, "Our aim is to learn and improve every time we are on track and that's what we've done today.
"I managed to improve my times gradually during both practice sessions and then improved further in qualifying. It's good to be just a couple of 10ths of a second outside the top 16 positions, it should be an exciting first race tomorrow."
Although running under the Arkas Racing banner, in deference to the team's chief sponsor Arkas Automotive, Erkut's Vauxhall Astra Sport Hatch is prepared and run by Leamington Spa-based Tech-Speed Motorsport. Finishing qualifying in 19th position also saw Erkut out-qualify three of the other five BTC-specification cars in the championship.
"I'm very happy with the team, they're doing a great job for me, and the car feels very good", he added, "I just need to learn to be more consistent with my lap times and then I think we can start making big steps forward."
So that's it, with qualifying now completed the 2007 Dunlop MSA British Touring Car Championship will begin in earnest tomorrow, Sunday, 1st April, with round one set to commence at 11.30, round two expected to get underway at 13.35 and round three timetabled to take place at 16.50.
All three races will be 24 laps in duration with the grid for race two determined by the finishing order of round one and the grid for the third of the weekend's races decided by the finishing order of the second encounter -- albeit with a twist as a set number of positions will be reversed.