DOYLE BUOYANT AFTER COMPLETING MAIDEN BTCC SEASON
In-Tune Racing's Michael Doyle celebrated completing the 2008 HiQ MSA British Touring Car Championship with his 10th Independents Trophy points finish at Brands Hatch Indy Circuit on Sunday, 21st September, ending the year a highly creditable 11th overall.
At the wheel of his five-year-old Honda Civic Type R, which has been backed this year by In-Tune Garage Services Ltd, Andrew Watt Car Components and the Scottish Sun, the Gartocharn based 21-year-old achieved a best result of 15th overall during the first of the weekend's three races, eighth in the Independents Trophy class.
Lining up 16th on the grid for round 28 thanks to his most competitive and trouble-free qualifying run of the campaign, the young Scottish star made a great start to immediately get ahead of the MG ZS of Jason Hughes and following the retirements of Hughes and John George on the second lap, Michael found himself in 13th place overall.
The Safety Car emerged on lap three and then at the re-start on the fifth tour, Michael moved into 12th place as Stephen Jelley's Team RAC BMW had a problem. Ahead of Andrew Jordan, Michael was under a lot of pressure and finally succumbed to the quicker car on lap eight.
Impressively at this stage, Michael continued to keep ahead of 2008 British Touring Car Champion Fabrizio Giovanardi but on lap 10 at Clearways the legendary touring car star managed to get through as the In-Tune Honda Civic ran slightly wide.
Losing a couple more places before the finish, Michael did reel Giovanardi back in during the closing stages and ended the race in 15th place overall, just 0.120 seconds adrift of the Italian. Importantly, Michael's best race lap was less than a 10th of a second slower than that managed by the VX Racing sensation too.
Starting round 29 from 15th on the grid, Michael made a good start once more and climbed into 13th place ahead of Mike Jordan. On lap six, the youngster dropped a couple of places but a retirement for Jason Plato's SEAT Leon saw Michael move back into 14th position.
Then, on lap 17, Michael was forced to pull off the circuit when a gearbox failure struck; the problem also preventing him from starting the 30th and final round of the season. While a disappointing end to the weekend and the season, the touring car rookie was still very buoyant about his first year in the UK's biggest motor racing championship.
"What a year it's been", he commented, "We had a really good weekend testing wise, perhaps the best we've had all season as every time we went out and tried things we went quicker and quicker.
"In the first race we had a couple of set-up issues but to finish right on the tail of the double BTCC Champion (Fabrizio Giovanardi) was absolutely brilliant. I'm delighted to have made it through to the end of the season and I can now say I've completed a full year of racing in the British Touring Cars.
"Onwards and upwards now, we need to work hard to try and secure the budget to get back out there and do it all again in 2009. We definitely feel we've established ourselves in this championship now, it's been a very tough season but I'd had so much support from so many people -- without them all we wouldn't have been able to achieve what we have."
In the overall BTCC Drivers Championship, Michael concluded the year 16thon five points with In-Tune Racing achieving a top 10 finish in the Teams Championship. In the Independents Trophy, Michael was 11th overall on 31 points while In-Tune claimed 52 points and 10th position in the Independents Team Trophy.
Highlights of this weekend's final three rounds of the 2008 HiQ MSA British Touring Car Championship will be screened on the UK's leading commercial channel, ITV1, tonight,Monday, 22nd September, at 12.30. Please check listings for details of additional screenings on ITV4 and Men & Motors.