HOME SUPPORT HELPS BOOST BLANCKLEY'S PACE Fantastic local support for Durham-based independent driver Simon Blanckley helped his team sibsport to their most competitive weekend of the year, despite disappointing results in the second and third...
HOME SUPPORT HELPS BOOST BLANCKLEY'S PACE
Fantastic local support for Durham-based independent driver Simon Blanckley helped his team sibsport to their most competitive weekend of the year, despite disappointing results in the second and third races of the day during the fourth Dunlop MSA British Touring Car Championship meeting of the year held at Croft, North Yorkshire, last weekend.
Having appeared on local TV and radio, as well in the print press running up to the event, Blanckley's profile was raised amongst the local fans and this was reflected throughout the weekend, with fans constantly massing around the team's garage.
Throughout Saturday - the first day of action at Croft - Blanckley kept improving his times and eventually qualifying 17th with what was his fastest lap of the day.
Round 10 started badly for Blanckley as he dropped to 21st position after struggling to get the car off the grid. However, inspired by the support from the enthusiastic crowd and the fifty plus hospitality guests of his sponsors, together with various competition winners, Blanckley produced a stunning come back drive to finish in 12th at the flag - just two positions away from scoring his second championship point of the year. His performance was all the more impressive as he was one of only a handful of drivers who was overtaking regularly during the race.
This gave him a starting grid position of 12th to start round 11, so his target was to gain the two positions in order to score an outright championship point. Throughout the race, a determined Blanckley was setting a very strong pace, not far off the front runners. Following a safety car period, Blanckley found himself in 10th position behind Turkish driver Erkut Kizilirmak, with whom he has had many exciting battles throughout the year. However, this particular battle was to end badly as the two clashed just after Hawthorne Bend on lap 12. Although Blanckley seemed to be in a position to continue, the impact damaged the suspension and caused the engine's air filters to come loose. The latter problem caused dust from his brief trip through the gravel trap to accumulate in the inlets, causing an engine failure.
Although the team had a spare fresh engine, the severity of the original engines condition was only discovered with about twenty minutes to go before the final race of the day, round 12. With no time left, the team - desperately disappointed after a committed weekend - couldn't get the car out to start the race.
Sibsport now move on to Oulton Park, Cheshire, on June 24th. The car will be fitted with a fresh engine, so the team is upbeat about the weekend.
Simon Blanckley - Owner/driver
"The amount of support we had today was amazing - there was a really great atmosphere around the circuit and I've got to say a big thanks to the fans who came out to support us. I'd have liked to score a point which looked achievable in the second race, but touring car racing is always close and we just got a bit close this time. We've been around the top ten a few times this year which shows that we are very strong on race pace and this is where we deserve to be, so I'd like to score several more points finishes before the end of the year."
"I had one of the championship's leading drivers come up to me and say how impressive my pace was during the race, which is a fantastic testimonial to receive. In round 11, our fastest lap was just over a second off the fastest overall race lap, which is evidence of our pace."
Graham Hathaway - Team Manager
"All the guys are gutted, but that's racing. I've got to say thanks to the various teams that tried to help us get on the grid for race three as well as Team Dynamics for the technical help with spares, but we just ran out of time. It's a real shame especially as it was Simon's home circuit, but the reception we had from the local fans was fantastic and Simon was really on the pace today, so there are many plus points that we can take out of the weekend and build on."