Phil Bennett in his Team PETRONAS Syntium Proton Impian recorded two impressive points-scoring results in the team's first BTCC race weekend. His 7th place (11th overall) in the Sprint race 1 was bettered by a superb sixth place outright in the Feature Race, helped by an ultra-rapid pitstop. David Leslie was sidelined twice while running in the top six of both races.
David Wong, Team Principal, Team PETRONAS Syntium Proton, said: "I am very delighted with this result for the team. We have come a long way in a very short time, beating our target performance for this weekend."
Brands Hatch Race 1 (Sprint), Monday April 1.
Team PETRONAS Syntium Proton's first ever race secured a solid points place for Phil Bennett but a puncture meant retirement for David Leslie after running as high as sixth.
The Sprint race was dominated by off-track excursions and retirements as early-season gremlins and exuberance took hold.
Leslie, starting from 11th place, surged up to sixth on the first lap. He said: "It was hectic on the first lap and I was able to benefit from other people's antics to pick up five places. At Westfield my front brakes locked, pushing me wide but I managed to keep it going and rejoined a couple of places down. It was going very smoothly until I picked up a puncture over the Dingle Dell kerb and had to pull off. A shame, as the car is strong and drivable -- a credit to the team so early in the season." Leslie retired after 13 of the 19-lap race.
Phil Bennett was delighted with his points finish despite having to pit for a new tyre. He said: "The car feels really good. This race is the most laps I've done in the car so far and by the end I was having a real go without losing my head. If I hadn't cut the left front tyre at Dingle Dell, a fourth place finish was there for the taking on our first outing." Bennett finished 7th in Touring Cars, with the only damage being a broken driver's side window.
Brands Hatch Race 2 -- Feature Race.
David Leslie, starting on the fifth row of the rolling grid, tapped Chilton in the middle of avoiding action for the spinning O'Neall. Leslie said: "Young Tom moved over on me and I couldn't help nudging him."
After a lengthy safety car session, Leslie came in for his planned pitstop: "The boys were superb and I was out in record time running fourth. Sadly the car suffered gear selection problems and I had to park it. Despite this, I'm very pleased with the car and the team -- a great performance and notice of our intent to compete for podium places."
Phil Bennett found his car 'even stronger than in the first race'. He said "Once again I picked up places as others ahead of me threw themselves off. The pitstop was great -- the boys really did the business and I found myself up in fifth. The Honda just pipped me after a wheel-to-wheel battle for half a lap but I'm really pleased with two good finishes for me and for the team."