TOUGH BTCC SEASON FINALE FOR ARKAS RACING

Arkas Racing with Sunshine.co.uk concluded its first season as a two-car entrant in the HiQ MSA British Touring Car Championship with a tough outing at Brands Hatch Indy Circuit over the weekend, 20th/21st September.

The event, which signalled the end of the 50th anniversary season of BTCC action, also marked the end of a chapter for the Leamington Spa based squad with Erkut Kizilirmak making his last appearance in the series for the time being -- the Turkish racer taking a year away from the championship in 2009 due to business commitments.

With an Independents Trophy points finish for Barrow-upon-Humber's Martyn Bell during round 28, he just missed out on replicating the result in round 29 but raced strongly and finished ahead of Kizilirmak in both encounters.

Very unfortunately, both Arkas Racing with Sunshine.co.uk drivers failed to complete the 25 lap race distance of the final encounter, round 30, with Kizilirmak forced to pit with a mechanical problem and Bell stopping out on circuit due to a drop in oil pressure.

Kizilirmak's original plan for Brands Hatch was to race his ex-Yvan Muller Vauxhall Astra Coupe, a long held dream for the 39-year-old, but serious engine problems struck the instant the car took to the track in free practice on Saturday morning.

With no option but to travel from the Kent circuit to Warwickshire, the base for Tech-Speed Motorsport which operates and runs the Arkas Racing branded cars, the team collected Kizilirmak's regular Astra Sport Hatch to replace the Coupe.

Forced to sit out free practice and also qualifying, Kizilirmak went fresh into the first race of the weekend on Sunday morning but still managed to post decent lap times on his way to an 18th place result. In round 29 he was 17th and then had his unfortunate retirement in the final round.

Bell made some fantastic starts in all of the races and managed to finish 17th overall in race one, and 16th in race two before his bitterly disappointing enforced retirement from the final race of the year with just a couple of laps remaining.

Commenting on the weekend, Arkas Racing technical director Brian Ashwood said: "It's been a tough meeting and we're very disappointed for Erkut that he wasn't able to race the Coupe this weekend as he wanted. The team did a fantastic job to get his Sport Hatch down to the circuit though and ready for the races on Sunday.

"Martyn and Erkut both raced well, the second race in particular was a highlight with both of them enjoying a really good battle with John George. It's certainly been a difficult year but we have enjoyed ourselves, regardless of what the results might be sometimes! We have to wait and see now what Arkas Racing with Sunshine.co.uk will do in 2009."

In the Independents Trophy standings, Bell finished the year in 15th position on 18 points, one place and a single point ahead of Kizilirmak. In the Independents Team Trophy, Arkas Racing with Sunshine.co.uk is eighth on 73 points.

Highlights of the Brands Hatch Indy Circuit races will be broadcast at 12.30 late tonight, Monday, 22nd September, on the UK's number one commercial channel ITV1. There will be additional screenings on Freeview, cable and digital satellite channels Men & Motors and ITV4. For further details please check listings.

-credit: ar