EEMS-SUPPORTED TEAM RAC CARS SHOW THEIR PACE IN FIRST RACES ON E85 BIO FUEL BLEND
Colin Turkington and Rob Collard raced strongly at the Knockhill rounds of the Dunlop MSA British Touring Car Championship this weekend, the first time their Team RAC MG ZS cars were powered by E85 biofuel in competition. "We've got some fast cars this weekend," said Team RAC's principal Dick Bennetts in his live ITV interview about the change to E85 fuel, watched by millions on UK TV.
The Team RAC car of Colin Turkington was within minutes of the first podium finish for a car on a biofuel when leading the final race of the day before an electrical problem sidelined him. He also broke the Knockhill lap record several times during an incident-packed second race. Team RAC still lies second in the Independents Team Trophy and Turkington is second in the race for the driver's title.
Team RAC had only officially announced the change to biofuel on Friday after weeks of engine testing and is supported by EEMS, the Energy Efficient Motorsport initiative of Motorsport Development UK. The team declared that the change to run on bio-fuel was 'seamless'.
E85 is a blend of 85% renewable bio-ethanol with petrol. As a road fuel it is now allowed in this top UK motorsport championship which has been leading the way in developments for future motorsport fuels.
"The cars are running very well, clearly we are competitive on this fuel," said Dick Bennetts. "However, we are very disappointed with race results from the weekend as we were very optimistic. We'll put this behind us and look forward to getting results in the last six races of the season."
EEMS Project Leader Steve Bunkhall was similarly enthusiastic, "Team RAC has confirmed the EEMS message; it is possible to be both environmentally aware and competitive at the highest levels in motorsport. They are setting the standard for the future."
The team's sponsor RAC was also pleased to be involved with the change to a renewable fuel blend. "When we first researched the sponsorship, we noted the EEMS development work with biofuels in motorsport," said Shaun Meadows, Marketing Director, RAC "New fuel technology is important to us and our members and I'm pleased to say we have begun our journey into bio-fuels with Team RAC. We recognise alternative fuel issues are high on the social and corporate agenda both in terms of environmental protection and fossil fuel sustainability and by demonstrating its use on the track we can hopefully raise awareness. Together with EEMS we are demonstrating the way forward for this exciting sport."
In race one on Sunday, the greasy track conditions caused incidents requiring two safety car periods to remove cars. Rob Collard was running well in sixth place but had to retire with electrical failure. Colin Turkington's 36kg of success ballast slowed him but he finished seventh with four points.
In race two, Colin Turkington broke the lap record and set fastest lap seven times during his fightback after losing time in the pits for a tyre change, following a collision with Gareth Howell, and then receiving a drive through penalty for exiting the pitlane under a red light. Returning to the track a lap down, he showed the incredible pace of the E85-fuelled Team RAC car and finished in tenth position, later changed to ninth position and collecting an additional championship point when a car was excluded from the results. Rob Collard retired after nine laps when an incident with Jason Plato's Seat saw him off into the gravel. Jason Hughes' private MG ZS finished in fourth position, his best result this season, also running on E85 fuel.
In race three, Colin was on track for his first win of the day, taking the lead on lap 18 from ninth position on the starting grid. An electrical problem caused the car to lose power, cruelly robbing him of a result. Rob Collard claimed seventh place from 14th on the grid.
The next three rounds of the British Touring Car Championship will be at Brands Hatch, Kent on 23-24 September with the last race live on ITV along with edited highlights of the first two races.