DESERVING FILDES DELIGHTED WITH SNETTERTON PODIUM
Jonathan Fildes made a long overdue and very popular return to the Blaupunkt SEAT Cupra Championship podium at Snetterton today, the Irish sensation hoping his terrific result will signal the start of a richly deserved reversal in fortunes.
The 31-year-old saloon car ace, one of the most genuine characters in the entire British Touring Car Championship support-package, battled through for a hard-earned fifth place finish in round 11 in challenging wet conditions and along with the third position he secured in the second race of the weekend, Jonathan is now sixth in the championship.
Although his hopes for a title-winning campaign have been blunted during recent rounds due to a run of almost unbelievable bad luck, the Co.Meath star firmly believes his Snetterton success will now act as a spring-board to a run of good results over the remaining six races at Knockhill, Brands Hatch and Silverstone.
Paying back the faith shown in him by key sponsors Applied Signs & Display, Asgard Taverns, Atari Expo and AM Speedsport, Jonathan put a problematic qualifying behind him to move to within nine points of Total Control Racing team-mate Fulvio Mussi in the 2006 standings and the aim now is to end the year with a flurry of podium visits.
Speaking after sealing his third podium of the season, an ecstatic Jonathan said: "I'm delighted for the team and especially my mechanic as I gave him hardship this weekend due to the damage from qualifying and a damaged sump in the first race. The TCR boys came through again, they worked their hearts out and got the car out for both qualifying sessions and the races - they really are brilliant.
"I'm not looking back anymore, it's been very frustrating this year but I'm going to keep looking forward now. I went out in the second race with an engine that was ready to blow up, we thought, because I had holed the sump in the first race. But the luck was with us so hopefully that's the start of good luck now for the rest of the season.
"I must thank my sponsors Asgard Taverns, Applied Signs & Display and also Edward Grogan for their vital support. We've been through some tough times this season but I'm absolutely delighted to finally be back on the podium."
In the first of Saturday's qualifying sessions it seemed Jonathan's weekend was to be another story of misfortune when Richard Dawson, who had spun off the circuit, rejoined straight into the path of the Irishman.
Smashing into the front-left wheel on Jonathan's car, Dawson's errant driving caused a great deal of damage leaving the TCR mechanics plenty of work to do in order to prepare the car in time for the second session.
From a mere four laps in round 11 qualifying, Jonathan still managed the ninth fastest time, only five 100ths of a second shy of the top six. The round 12 session, meanwhile, saw him post the sixth fastest time.
With a short burst of heavy rain soaking the Norfolk circuit prior to the opening SEAT race of the day, good wet-weather ability would be paramount and Jonathan underlined his class with an excellent drive.
Although initially slipping to 10th place on lap one, Jonathan soon made his way into the top eight and by lap six he was pressuring Lewis Carter for seventh position. Superb under braking, the TCR ace made his move into the start of lap seven before demoting Carl Breeze from sixth place in quick succession.
Pulling away from his pursuers, Jonathan soon had team-mate Neil Waterworth in his sights and when the latter made a mistake on lap nine Jonathan gratefully took the place to claim a superb top five finish.
Round 12 saw Jonathan on the pace immediately, moving into fifth position early on and then staking his claim for a top four spot on lap nine as team-mate Jonathan Adam made an error under braking at Russell Chicane.
Rapidly catching third-placed Ben Winrow, Irish ace Fildes knew a podium was on the cards and on lap 12 his hard work paid off as he moved into third place for a very welcome return to the podium.
The next two rounds of the SEAT Cupra Championship will take place three weeks from now on 2nd/3rd September at Knockhill Circuit for the British Touring Car Championship package's annual visit to Scotland.
Jonathan's successful Snetterton races, meanwhile, will be replayed in full on Motors TV this Tuesday morning, 15th August, at 09.00.