BATTLING DOYLE IMPRESSES WITH THRUXTON PACE Promising young touring car racer Michael Doyle enjoyed his most competitive run of the 2008 season at Thruxton in Hampshire yesterday, Sunday, 18th May -- a credit to the determination of...
BATTLING DOYLE IMPRESSES WITH THRUXTON PACE
Promising young touring car racer Michael Doyle enjoyed his most competitive run of the 2008 season at Thruxton in Hampshire yesterday, Sunday, 18th May -- a credit to the determination of the Scotsman's In-Tune Racing team having been badly let down by a number of non-attending mechanics just two days prior to the race meeting.
With a skeleton squad arriving at the 2.35-mile venue on Friday, things looked bleak for the 20-year-old ahead of the latest HiQ MSA British Touring Car Championship outing.
But with some very encouraging race performances, and assistance from sidelined BTCC racer Nick Leason, the Gartocharn based driver managed to achieve his second Independents Trophy points finish of the year with a terrific top 15 result in round 10. It could have been even better too, had it not been for some errant blue flags!
"I was lapping quicker than Robert Collard ahead in the Motorbase BMW 320si and I was confident I'd be able to have a go at him but then I started to be shown blue flags", explained Michael, "I could see (Gordon) Shedden approaching with his lights on and it wasn't until I got back to the pits I realised we were racing for position.
"When I backed off to let him by, heeding the blue flags I'd been shown incorrectly, it meant I lost momentum behind Collard and so lost the chance of gaining more places and points. That was a real shame."
Aiming to continue his progress during round 11, things looked promising as he made a better getaway than in the first encounter and he fought with some much quicker machines such as the Motorbase BMW of Steven Kane, the Honda Civic of Tom Chilton and the Honda Integras of Mike and Andrew Jordan.
The Safety Car was deployed on lap two and at that point Michael was in 15th position. At the re-start on lap six, the talented rookie held station and started to lap quicker than the likes of Mike Jordan and Gareth Howell's SEAT Toledo.
On lap 10 though, a front wheel bearing failure as he approached Noble -- where he suffered a huge accident when racing in the ELF Renault Clio Cup support series last year -- saw Michael spin off the circuit. Collecting part of an advertising hoarding over the radiator of his Honda Civic, he was forced to retire to the pits when his engine overheated.
Missing out on another solid top 15 result, Michael's luck didn't improve when it became obvious the overheating had caused damage to the engine and would keep him out of the third race of the day, round 12.
"Unfortunately we had gearbox problems again but hopefully we'll have them sorted out before Croft in two weeks. Then the engine temperature went through the roof when the advertising board got stuck over the radiator. We need to wait and see what the engine builders tell us before we make a decision about the next event", said Michael.
"It's been a very difficult weekend for us as we were badly let down on Thursday by three guys who had been working with us so that put us on the backfoot before we'd even turned a wheel on the car.
"Thankfully, Nick Leason helped us out by putting me onto his brother Tony and some other friends who came down to Thruxton to help us out. I can't thank Nick enough and also Tony, Alan, Paul and Carol -- they really did us proud and enabled us to have a couple of good races. Thanks must go to everyone who rolled up their sleeves!"
The fifth race meeting of the 2008 HiQ MSA British Touring Car Championship, rounds 13, 14 and 15, will take place just a fortnight from now over the weekend 31st May/1st June at North Yorkshire's Croft Circuit.
Michael added: "I really hope we'll be at Croft but we have to be realistic, we need to attract more sponsors but without being on track and getting the results it's very difficult -- it's the age-old problem of motor racing. We'll just have to see what happens."
Before then, highlights from all three Thruxton BTCC races will be screened on the UK's number one commercial television station, ITV1, at 00.55 tonight, Monday, 19th May. There will be additional showings during the week on Freeview, digital satellite and cable channels ITV4 and Men & Motors -- check listings for further details.