Jordan stars in BTCC opener
Mike Jordan was one of the stars of the weekend during the opening rounds of the 2006 Dunlop MSA British Touring Car Championship at Brands Hatch on Sunday (9 April).
Although he only finished one of the three races, Mike ran right in the thick of the lead battles with the works teams and showed that he has the pace to finish on the podium and challenge for race wins in the Team Eurotech Honda Integra.
"It's truly been a fantastic day and our team sponsors have loved it," said Mike at the end of the afternoon. "I've really, really massively enjoyed it and I can't remember going home so upbeat from a race day!"
The John Guest and Pirtek-supported Honda claimed a fine fifth in the opening race and was on target for a podium finish in the second race when Mike was unable to avoid being involved in someone else's accident. The damage from that accident eventually forced him to retire from the third race.
However, Jordan was very upbeat about the weekend having clearly showed that the car, driver and team will be major forces in this year's BTCC. "Touring car racing has always been a bit up and down. It's usual that you have a good race and a bad race, and it's going to be like that."
In the first race, Jordan didn't make a good start from eighth on the grid and was down to 12th initially. However, he then started a mighty charge up the order and passed car after car, including diving past the works Vauxhall of Gavin Smith into Paddock Hill Bend, to claim fifth place at the finish.
A better start for race two put him in a strong position to challenge for a place on the podium and he was soon attacking Smith for fourth place as five cars formed the lead pack. However, Smith was driving very defensively and that allowed Jason Plato and Gordon Shedden to close in. Plato then tipped the Eurotech Honda sideways at Clearways and Mike was elbowed back two places. Then, under braking for Paddock, Plato clipped Shedden and Jordan was just unable to avoid Shedden's Honda as it spun across the track into the gravel.
"Wrong place, wrong time," said Jordan. "I'd got a plan of what I was going to try and do, which was brake a little bit earlier and tuck down the inside of them. But they braked earlier than me and that put me on the outside with nowhere to go." However, before the shunt his race pace was superb and he set the fastest independent race lap and only Plato was quicker on overall lap times.
With the front of the car damaged, the team worked flat out to repair it as much as possible for the third and final race. But they ran out of time to get the power steering working.
"I'd got no power steering and the car was virtually undriveable. I came in and the guys did a very technical operation; they hit the power steering pump repeatedly with a hammer! That freed off the valve. So I then thought I might as well go out and get some engine data because our engine builder had put a new engine map in the car. But it later broke the exhaust manifold, probably as a legacy of the accident."
Nevertheless, it had been a great debut weekend, with Jordan showing tremendous pace and racing hard with the top names in the BTCC. He's already looking forward to the next rounds at Mondello Park (Ireland) over the weekend of 22/23 April.