KIZILIRMAK BREAKS BTCC POINTS DUCK AT BRANDS...TWICE!
Turkish racer Erkut Kizilirmak secured his maiden Dunlop MSA British Touring Car Championship top 10 finish during the first of today's three action-packed encounters at Brands Hatch Indy Circuit in Kent, the Arkas Racing star then continuing the momentum with a repeat performance in race two.
At the wheel of his immaculately prepared BTC-specification Vauxhall Astra Sports Hatch, Erkut started this morning's rain-affected first race, round 22, from 20th place but before the race leaders had even made it halfway through the opening lap, red flags were shown following a multi-car collision on the run up the hill to Druids Hairpin.
Thankfully, the 37-year-old managed to avoid the chaos ahead of him, which involved a total of nine cars, and so for the re-start he would line up 13th on the grid. Making as good a job of his getaway as he did at the original race start, Erkut moved into the top 12 very quickly and looked impressive in only his second ever wet race meeting.
With rain continuing to fall, the Istanbul-based driver continued to lap strongly throughout the race and managed to gain two places during the closing stages following a coming together between Mike Jordan and Gordon Shedden. Taking the chequered flag in 10th position, Erkut achieved his dream of a first ever full BTCC Driver's Championship point.
Round 23 would prove to be a bit of lottery with some drivers choosing to run on slick tyres, others remaining on wets and some using a mixture. Arkas opted to run with treaded rubber on all four wheels and at the start it appeared to be the right decision.
Like round 22, the opening lap was notable for a collision -- this time on the run to Paddock Hill Bend -- and the result saw Erkut emerge through the first corner in seventh position having started 10th on the grid by virtue of his result in race one. More contact though, in this instance involving Jason Plato and Tom Chilton, saw Erkut move into fifth.
After a few laps under the Safety Car, the race resumed on lap seven and Erkut moved into fourth, his highest ever track position in a BTCC race, after Gavin Smith served a drive-through penalty. From mid-distance though, the track started to dry to a point where wet weather tyres were more of a hindrance but he still managed to bring his Astra home in 10th place again to score another full championship point.
"Obviously I'm delighted to score my first ever top 10 finish and to then repeat that in race two was very good for me and the team", said Erkut, "It was a shame the conditions dried up so much in the second race as it made my job very hard, if it had rained as we thought it might then who knows how high we could have finished?"
Sadly, round 24 ended prematurely for Erkut following contact at Clearways from Richard Marsh's S2000-specification Alfa Romeo, the result seeing the Arkas driver forced into retirement in the gravel trap on lap 14. Nonetheless, the weekend as a whole proved to be a success.
Run, of course, by Marvin Humphries' Leamington-Spa based Tech-Speed Motorsport squad, the Arkas-branded entry is seventh in the Independents Team Trophy standings while Erkut is ninth in the Independents Trophy chase. Thanks to his two top 10 results, he has now scored in the full BTCC Driver's Championship and is in joint 19th position.
The penultimate race meeting of the 2007 season, rounds 25, 26 and 27, will see the BTCC circus make its annual visit north of the border to Knockhill Circuit in Fife although Arkas Racing will not be making the journey to Scotland as Erkut will be attending an important family wedding in his native Turkey.
He will therefore not return to competitive action for a full eight weeks when the season finale will take place at Thruxton Circuit on 13th/14th October, the second visit of the season for the BTCC to the Hampshire speedbowl.