DOUBLE INDEPENDENTS POINTS FINISH DELIGHTS DOYLE Scotland's Michael Doyle made another leap forward in competitiveness during the sixth event of the 2008 HiQ MSA British Touring Car Championship at Snetterton Circuit in Norfolk yesterday,...
DOUBLE INDEPENDENTS POINTS FINISH DELIGHTS DOYLE
Scotland's Michael Doyle made another leap forward in competitiveness during the sixth event of the 2008 HiQ MSA British Touring Car Championship at Snetterton Circuit in Norfolk yesterday, Sunday, 13th July, with a best race result of 11th position during the last of the day's three lively encounters.
Taking the chequered flag at the end of round 18 in 12th position, the 21-year-old from Gartocharn was later promoted to 11th overall, and seventh in the Independents Trophy, following the exclusion of Adam Jones' SEAT which was deemed to be underweight.
Round 17 was similarly promising with the In-Tune Racing star battling wheel to wheel with the much quicker BMW 320si of Stephen Jelley for a large portion of the race. While not providing his best result of the weekend, Michael ending the race in 13th position overall, it was a true highlight as it underlined his ever developing competitiveness.
"We made a huge improvement this weekend, it's been fantastic and has given the entire team a lot of confidence ahead of Oulton Park in two weeks", said Michael, "I really feel, as a driver, I could have achieved more but we made positive steps forward so I'm delighted. The team has worked so hard, they're a fantastic bunch of guys.
"It was nice to be racing cars that have had so much more development than our old Honda Civic and which should be much quicker than we are. We've made good inroads since Croft. I think the best way to sum it up is that we've now become a true team in the BTCC and we deserve our place in the championship, we feel we belong here."
Unfortunately for Michael, the promise of three solid Independents points finishes went begging during the first race of the day, round 16, when a sheared wheel nut resulted in retirement on lap two. Nonetheless, the fantastic progress the whole In-Tune Racing team has made at Snetterton has provided a major boost for the remainder of the season.
At the start of round 17, Michael made a terrific start to move from 20th on the grid to 18th place and on lap two he moved another position higher as Jason Hughes' MG ZS fell back. The Glaswegian ace then moved into the top 16 before the end of lap two following a spin for Jelley in his Team RAC BMW.
By lap five, Michael was into the top 13 and looking very impressive. Five more laps into the race the recovering Jelley started to get back on terms with the In-Tune Honda Civic Type R which was now in 12th position. Although the BMW managed to get ahead at the Esses on lap 11, Michael wasn't about to let it pull away.
Shadowing Jelley's more powerful car for the next three laps nose-to-tail, Michael's potential progress was halted on the 14th tour when the Safety Car was deployed. At the re-start on lap 16, Michael fought to hold on to 12th position and he almost made it to the chequered flag without losing the place.
Hughes, recovering in his MG, produced a very late braking move into the Esses on the inside to wrest 12th place from Michael but 13th was still a great finish. Impressively, his fastest race lap of 1m 13.929 seconds was just 1.3 seconds shy of the best managed by round 17 winner Jason Plato in his SEAT Leon TDi.
Round 18 saw Michael make steady progress as several rivals faltered and by lap six he was into the top 15. Problems for Plato on lap nine lifted the In-Tune star into 14th place and his next targets were Hughes and the Chevrolet Lacetti of Harry Vaulkhard.
Passing Hughes on lap 13, Michael set his sights on Vaulkhard but the latter then suffered a puncture into the Esses which instantly lifted the Scotsman into the top 12 before he had chance to muster up his own passing move. Keeping Hughes at bay to the finish, Michael was then promoted into 11th place following Jones' aforementioned exclusion.
"I'm gutted with how race one ended but very happy with the weekend overall", added Michael, "We're achieving the steady progression we want, we're getting better all of the time. I made an awesome start to the third race but I got hit from behind which knocked the steering geometry out and it took me a few laps to adjust to the feel of it.
"Following race two, we were called in to the weighing area and it turned out we were 16 kilograms over the limit which obviously cost us a few 10ths of a second a lap. We had some problems but we also worked very well as a team and showed good pace. I know we can achieve much more but we're making great progress. I'm really happy."
Rounds 19, 20 and 21 of the 2008 HiQ MSA British Touring Car Championship will take place two weeks from now, 26th/27th July, at Oulton Park Island Circuit in Cheshire.