ARKAS CONSOLIDATES CHAMPIONSHIP PLACING AT CROFT
Leading HiQ MSA British Touring Car Championship entrant Arkas Racing with Sunshine.co.uk came through another difficult weekend at Croft in North Yorkshire yesterday, Sunday, 1st June, with spirits high after consolidating eighth position in the Independents Team Trophy.
Turkish star Erkut Kizilirmak finished all three BTCC races, his best result of the day coming with seventh position in the Independents rankings during round 15. Team-mate Martyn Bell had a trickier time of things but still managed to battle through his bad luck to claim a top 10 Independents finish in round 14.
Very much a 'home' event for Barrow-upon-Humber based Bell, the Croft race meeting was always going to be one of the most important of the season for the 43-year-old but misfortune befell him in two of three encounters
Qualifying in 21st position for round 13 with a time of 1m 29.542 seconds (85.43mph), Bell had a better time of things on Saturday than 38-year-old Kizilirmak. The session was one to forget for the former Turkish Touring Car Champion after a high-speed spin at the exit of the chicane on his third lap resulted in substantial damage to his Vauxhall Astra.
Superb work late into the night by the Tech-Speed Motorsport mechanics though, who run and prepare the Arkas Racing with Sunshine.co.uk Astras, ensured Kizilirmak would be able to take his place on the grid for the first race. Thanks too go to Gerry Doyle, of fellow BTCC team In-Tune Racing, who leant a very welcome helping hand.
Persistent rain ahead of and during the first Croft race provided very difficult conditions for the BTCC competitors to contend with but in the end, Kizilirmak came home in 16th position overall with Bell in 20th after problems on lap two. Red flagged twice due to separate incidents, round 13 was declared a result after only a handful of racing laps.
Round 14 saw Kizilirmak run strongly to 15th position overall, ninth in the Independents rankings, while Bell followed him over the line in 16th place, 10th in the Independents, with both Arkas drivers having enjoyed good individual battles.
The last encounter, round 15, provided the best result of the weekend for Kizilirmak with 13th position overall and seventh in the Independents class. Unfortunately for Bell, a potentially promising run was ended almost immediately when contact between Andrew Jordan and John George at Clervaux eliminated the Arkas man on the spot.
Team technical director Brian Ashwood commented: "I thought both drivers didn't do too badly at all this weekend but we had more than our fair share of incidents to contend with again. I was delighted with the second race though, Erkut and Martyn did well individually and raced hard which was very encouraging."
In the run-up to the weekend's action in the North East, Bell was in attendance at the HiQ outlet in Darlington on Thursday evening to take part in one of the BTCC's special 'Driver Forum' events.
In addition, Arkas Racing welcomed a group of children from Brompton-on-Swale School into the team garage on Friday afternoon for a special behind-the-scenes look at the inner workings of a BTCC squad. Once again, Bell was in attendance to meet the kids, sign autographs and talk about life in the UK's number one motor racing championship.
Highlights of Sunday's three touring car races will be screened at 00.50 late tonight, Monday, 2nd June, on ITV1. Further showings will be repeated on Freeview, cable and digital satellite channels ITV4 and Men & Motors. Check listings for full details.
The BTCC now takes a long six-week summer break ahead of rounds 16, 17 and 18 which will be held on 12th/13th July at Snetterton Circuit in Norfolk.