BELL SCORES FOR ARKAS DURING DIFFICULT DONINGTON WEEKEND
Martyn Bell enabled Arkas Racing with Sunshine.co.uk to hold on to eighth position in the HiQ MSA British Touring Car Championship's Independents Team Trophy standings at Donington Park yesterday, Sunday, 4th May, following a promising points-scoring drive during the first of the weekend's three races.
The North Lincolnshire based 43-year-old, who counts Donington Park as one of his 'home' venues, ran as high as 13th overall during round seven -- a race punctuated by two Safety Car periods -- and eventually took the chequered flag in 14th position to finish the race ninth in the Independents battle.
Arkas Racing with Sunshine.co.uk team-mate Erkut Kizilirmak, meanwhile, just missed out on an Independents points result in 16th place overall but the finish did mean both Vauxhall Astra Sport Hatch cars would begin round eight from the middle of the pack.
With light rain in the air ahead of the second encounter, teams and drivers faced a tough decision over whether to remain on slick tyres or to change to wet weather rubber.
As the race got underway, following a delay due to the stalled car of Andrew Jordan, Bell lost grip as he rounded Redgate Corner on the opening lap. Collected by Stuart Oliver's SEAT Toledo, the resulting damage meant the Arkas driver's weekend would end there as his car wasn't able to take the grid for round nine.
It was much the same story for Turkish 38-year-old Kizilirmak. Having opted to remain on slick tyres, which ultimately would have proven to be the correct choice, a promising run ended on lap nine when he crashed out of 12th position with huge force.
Losing adhesion at Hollywood, the Arkas man shot across the infield and as soon as his slick tyres touched the wet grass he was nothing more than a passenger. Hitting the retaining wall with a heavy frontal impact, Kizilirmak luckily walked away unscathed -- the same couldn't be said for his Astra though.
With both drivers unable to line-up on the grid for the third race of the day, the team was left thinking what might have been. However, with a number of other retirees throughout the three Donington rounds, Arkas Racing with Sunshine.co.uk retains eighth position in the Independents Team Trophy on 23 points.
In the Independents Trophy for drivers, Kizilirmak and Bell are separated by just a single point in 14th and 15th positions respectively.
Looking back on the weekend, Arkas Racing's technical director Brian Ashwood said: "It didn't turn out to be the weekend we'd hoped for unfortunately which is a great shame for everyone involved. Martyn ran very well in the first race and Erkut looked set for a good, solid finish in race two until his accident.
"We're obviously very disappointed with how things turned out. Erkut made the call on taking slicks for the second race, we went with it and it turned out to be the right tyre to use -- he just got caught out on a very slippery part of the corner. Once he touched the grass he was a passenger."
Supporting the schools programme which the BTCC attaches a great deal of importance to, Arkas Racing with Sunshine.co.uk invited a group of children from nearby Diseworth Primary School into the team garage on Friday afternoon, 2nd May, where they saw behind the scenes and also met Martyn Bell.
Up next for the team, which is run by Leamington Spa based Tech-Speed Motorsport, is a visit to Thruxton Circuit in Hampshire two weeks from now, 17th/18th May, for rounds 10, 11 and 12 of the 2008 HiQ MSA British Touring Car Championship.
Before then, the UK's leading commercial television channel ITV1 will screen highlights of yesterday's action from Donington Park at 01.25 late tonight, Monday, 5th May. Additional showings will be broadcast on Freeview, cable and digital satellite channel ITV4 and satellite and cable station Men & Motors -- check listings for details.