KIZILIRMAK EDGES EVER CLOSER TO MAIDEN BTCC TOP 10 FINISH
Arkas Racing's Erkut Kizilirmak continued to move ever closer to achieving his dream of a maiden top 10 finish in the Dunlop MSA British Touring Car Championship during the seventh race meeting of the season at Snetterton Circuit in Norfolk earlier today, the Turkish racer finishing in 11th place in two of the weekend's three encounters.
An action-packed weekend from start to finish, 37-year-old Erkut raced superbly well and was incredibly unlucky not to claim his first ever full BTCC Drivers Championship points after seeing a top 10 finish slip away through no fault of his own during round 20.
Lining up 17th on the grid for the first race, an engine problem compromising his pace in qualifying and necessitating a change of powerplant overnight on Saturday, Erkut did a great job to finish in 12th place although he was re-classified in 11th position after original race winner Colin Turkington was excluded from the results.
Starting 11th on the grid for round 20, Leamington Spa-based Tech-Speed Motorsport, the squad which runs the Arkas Racing entered Vauxhall Astra Sport Hatch, had high hopes for a maiden top 10 result for Erkut and it all looked possible when Mike Jordan had problems on the grid at the start.
Into 10th position immediately, the Safety Car was then deployed after a tangle between several cars lower down the order but at the re-start on lap six, Erkut saw his race begin to unravel. Losing a place to Matt Neal into the Senna Straight, he tucked-in behind the reigning BTCC Champion but was then tagged from behind and pitched off the track.
Erkut managed to recover, albeit a long way down, but after setting some superbly fast and consistent laps he reeled-in Simon Blanckley and Martin Bell before passing both to move back into the top 14. Unfortunately, Erkut was then forced into retirement at Riches Corner on lap 15 following contact while racing closely with Bell.
Round 21 saw the Turkish sensation start in 16th place and after a terrific battle with Jason Hughes and Tom Ferrier at mid-distance, Erkut emerged at the front of the trio following an excellent pass on Hughes into the Esses on lap 12. He then claimed his second 11th place result of the weekend after Matt Allison was forced to retire.
"It's been an enjoyable weekend, there has been some good racing and we had great pace -- the car was fantastic", said Erkut reflecting on the Snetterton races, "We had a really good chance to finish in the top 10 for the first time but just missed out, it's a shame but we have shown we have the speed to run comfortably in those positions.
"Through the speed traps we were quicker than drivers like Jason Plato and Matt Neal so that is a very big boost and it shows we're making progress all of the time. We're closer than ever to the top 10, at Brands Hatch maybe we can score our first ever points in the main championship, I really do think we can."
Erkut has climbed into ninth place in the Independents Trophy standings and his results from rounds 19 and 21 have also seen Arkas Racing move into seventh place in the Independents Team Trophy.