LACK OF POINTS BELIES BELL'S EFFORTS AT KNOCKHILL
Arkas Racing with Sunshine.co.uk driver Martyn Bell was unfortunate to miss out on a couple of Independents Trophy points finishes during the eighth race meeting of the HiQ MSA British Touring Car Championship season at Knockhill in Scotland today, Sunday, 17th August.
The 44-year-old, once again the sole Arkas Racing entry this weekend with team-mate Erkut Kizilirmak forced to miss his second event of 2008 due to business commitments back home in Turkey, raced strongly but just missed out on adding to his season's tally for the Leamington Spa based team.
Qualifying 21st on the grid for the first race of the weekend with a time of 55.236 seconds (82.85mph), the Barrow-upon-Humber racer saw his involvement in round 22 last little more than a lap when Chris Stockton made contact and forced the Arkas man out.
Frustrated, having made a decent start to the race, Bell would begin round 23 at the back of the grid by virtue of his early retirement from the opening encounter. Getting away quite well from the line, the North Lincolnshire racer diced with Alan Taylor early on and then on lap 12 he moved inside the top 20 for the first time.
Several laps later, Bell was into 18th position and that's where he would take the chequered flag, tantalisingly just one place outside the Independents Trophy points paying positions.
The final race of the weekend, round 24, didn't see Bell get away particularly well and although slipping one place to 19th position, the Arkas driver fought back and battled hard, a late-braking pass on Michael Doyle into the Real Radio Hairpin on lap four a particular highlight.
Running at the tail of a pack of four cars headed by the Team RAC BMW 320si of Stephen Jelley at one-third race distance, Bell held his own well until the Safety Car appeared on lap nine due to Jason Plato's stricken SEAT Leon TDi in the gravel on the exit of the hairpin.
After the re-start, Bell had to fight hard to try and keep a charging Jason Hughes behind him and although he had to give best to the MG ZS driver, the Arkas star did emerge victorious from an intense scrap with John George during the final four laps.
Running side-by-side with George out of the hairpin at the end of lap 25, Bell held his line as George leant on the Vauxhall Astra Sport Hatch and the result saw the Honda Integra driver spin across the front of Bell's car. Crossing the line on the 27th lap in 18th position, Bell ended the race 12th in the list of Independents Trophy finishers.
Speaking at the conclusion of the weekend's action, Arkas Racing technical director Brian Ashwood said: "Unfortunately the results weren't there but it was a bit like at Oulton Park in as much as Martyn definitely moved forward. He took on various bits of information, rectified a few mistakes he'd made and improved each time he went out.
"Looking at the sector times in the last race, he really did fight hard. In the first race he was taken out before he could really get going, in the second one he drove for a finish and then in race three he fought well to hold his ground. Martin is definitely moving forward, it's just a shame he didn't get a few points as he deserved some."
Silverstone National Circuit in Northamptonshire is the next stop on the BTCC tour two weeks from now, 30th/31st August, for the penultimate three races of the 2008 season, rounds 25, 26 and 27. It's almost 100 per cent certain 38-year-old Kizilirmak will make his BTCC return with the Tech-Speed Motorsport-run squad at the home of the British Grand Prix.
In the meantime, highlights of today's three Knockhill races will be broadcast on ITV1 late tomorrow night, Monday, 18th August, at 12.35. Additional screenings will be shown on cable, digital satellite and Freeview channels ITV4 and Men & Motors.