TRIPLE FINISH FOR SIBSPORT AT SNETTERTON Durham's Simon Blanckley scored three finishes for the first time since May's Dunlop MSA British Touring Car Championship (BTCC) meeting at Thruxton, as two sibsport team members raced over the weekend ...
TRIPLE FINISH FOR SIBSPORT AT SNETTERTON
Durham's Simon Blanckley scored three finishes for the first time since May's Dunlop MSA British Touring Car Championship (BTCC) meeting at Thruxton, as two sibsport team members raced over the weekend at Snetterton.
Unusually for sibsport, the Saturday practice sessions didn't go quite as well as normal, with Blanckley going off at Coram corner in first practice before setting the a time of 1m.17.235 in the session. This was followed by a much improved 1m.14.801 in second practice. Qualifying went slightly better, with Blanckley managing 19th on the grid. After all the other activity of Saturday, team manager Graham Hathaway took to the wheel of a Lotus Cortina Mark 1 - which had never been raced before in its history - in the Heritage Grand Touring Car Championship (HGTCC) and won their class, finishing 18th overall in the 32 car field.
Starting 19th meant sibsport had a tough task to achieve a point at Snetterton in the first BTCC race on Sunday. After losing ground at the start, Blanckley found it hard to make any substantial progress through the field. Despite setting solid lap times, they were mirrored largely by Richard Marsh (Alfa-Romeo) and Martyn Bell (BMW) ahead, so the gap wasn't changing significantly. However, determination paid dividends eventually, with the sibsport driver finishing just four tenths of a second behind Bell. Once again, it seemed Blanckley and Bell would be involved in some good fights for position, as had occurred in other recent rounds. Simon was classified 17th but following the disqualification of the race winner Colin Turkington, he was officially moved up to 16th, where he would start on the grid for race two.
Again a poor start meant Blanckley dropped to 20th but the field became bunched up behind the safety car - which was to be big feature of the race - following a start line crash between Chris Stockton (Lexus) and Fiona Leggate (MG). As the restart commenced, the group of cars Blanckley was in lost ground on the rolling start as Mike Jordan, in a similar Honda, pitted. The safety car came out again on lap 15 due to a spin by Erkut Kizilirmak (Vauxhall), and despite catching Bell's BMW in the closing stages, Blanckley just couldn't find a way past and once again he finished four tenths behind in 14th.
Blanckley had another tough task in the final race when he went sideways at the exit of Russell, the final corner, on lap one due to cold tyres. This left the financial advisor a real job to do to get anything from the race. However, Blanckley showed once again that his pace in the race can be impressive, as he hunted down Bell relentlessly. After the incident on lap 1, Blanckley was almost five seconds off the BMW but by lap 13 he had caught up and made a clinical pass into Coram bend. Having been stuck behind Bell, Blanckley simply ran out of laps to challenge the next driver up the road - Chris Stockton - but closed the gap nevertheless. In terms of lap times, round 21 was the most competitive of the day.
The last race overall on Sunday saw team manager Hathaway scheduled to driver the second stint in the Lotus Cortina during the second HGTCC race, but an engine failure early on ended that challenge before Graham could take the wheel.
Simon Blanckley, Owner/Driver
"We finished all three rounds which is great as we maximising track time. I'm happy as there were no reliability issues or accident damage, so it doesn't affect the pocket as much! Next we are off to Brands which is personally a good track for me, I won there in 2006 in an ex-BTCC car, so we are confident of more progress."
Graham Hathaway, Team Manager
"Overall we are pleased as we finished all three races and sustained no damage. The results were reasonable and we showed once again that we are consistant. We'd like to improve in the remaining races and ideally add to our overall points, as well as moving up in the independents trophy."