SOLID START TO THE BTCC SEASON FOR ARKAS RACING
Arkas Racing with Sunshine.co.uk left Brands Hatch Indy Circuit this evening ninth overall in the HiQ MSA British Touring Car Championship Independents Team Trophy after a solid debut as a two-car entrant during the opening event of 2008.
The squad, run by Marvin Humphries' Tech-Speed Motorsport team, arrived at the Kent venue on Saturday with drivers Erkut Kizilirmak and Martyn Bell both facing their own individual challenges.
While for team newcomer Bell the weekend marked his first competitive action in the BTCC at the wheel of a front-wheel drive car, for Kizilirmak the initial free practice was his first outing on track since the final race of 2007, at Thruxton last October!
Nonetheless, both produced good performances and particularly so in the second of the weekend's three races with Turkish star Kizilirmak claiming an Independents Trophy points finish with 16th place overall, 10th in the Independents race. North Lincolnshire racer Bell crossed the line a mere three 10ths of a second shy of his new team-mate.
Round one saw Kizilirmak come home in his grid position of 19th while Bell was sadly forced to retire from his debut race in Arkas Racing colours after contact from fellow Independents Trophy driver Alan Taylor on lap two.
The third round was a different story for the 43-year-old from Barrow-upon-Humber though. First, a great start moved him into the top 15 and a battling performance then saw him rise as high as 12th position at one stage. Although losing positions later in the race, Bell is getting quicker and quicker at the wheel of his Vauxhall Astra Sport Hatch.
Kizilirmak ran in close company for the majority of the race and although a similar slip down the order befell the 38-year-old during the closing stages, the team is confident there is a lot to build-on as the season starts to gather pace.
Commenting on the season-opening event, Arkas Racing technical director Brian Ashwood said: "We're pleased with how the weekend has gone in all honesty, we always knew it was going to be tough at the first event having had very little pre-season testing with Martyn and none at all with Erkut.
"The BTCC is as competitive as ever this year, you're battling for every 10th of a second, but we're all happy with our first race meeting as Arkas Racing with Sunshine.co.uk and we're looking forward to Rockingham now where we aim to make good progress."
Extensive highlights of today's action will be screened on ITV1 late tomorrow night, Monday, 31st March, at 00.50. The one hour show will also be shown again on Men & Motors and ITV1 during the coming week -- please check listings for further details.
Rounds four, five and six will take place a fortnight from now on 12th/13th April at Rockingham International Super Sports Car Circuit, Northamptonshire.