Robb Holland and Rotek Racing reached a significant milestone by scoring its first point in a typically dramatic BTCC weekend at Snetterton in East Anglia.
Saturday’s free practice and qualifying sessions all went to plan for Holland and Rotek Racing and the team was pleased to validate modifications made to its new-for-2014 Audi S3 saloon in a test at Pembrey in Wales.
With a better understanding of the Oakley Motorsports-liveried machine and a vastly improved balance, Rotek Racing confirmed with absolute certainty that progress had been made during the lengthy mid-season break and that was reflected in Holland’s speed and consistency on the Snetterton ‘300’ circuit.
There was a belief that Rounds 16, 17 and 18 of the Dunlop-backed BTCC represented Rotek’s most realistic shot of scoring points since making its debut in Britain’s premier motor racing championship at the start of 2014.
Holland, from Atlanta, Georgia, drove a canny race from 23rd on the grid and successfully negotiated his way through the traditionally frantic first corner, swerving to avoid the ensuing carnage with cat-like reflexes and emerging from the dust cloud in the points in 15th.
The American had Warren Scott in P14 pegged for pace but lost touch with the Team BMR driver while fighting a rear-guard action against multiple British Touring Car Champion Fabrizio Giovanardi.
While reluctant to relinquish the final points-paying position, self-preservation was the priority and Holland took the decision not to defend too heavily against the feisty Italian.
Instead, the Oakley Motorsports-backed driver went in pursuit of Glynn Geddie – recovering from an earlier spin – and kept the United Autosport driver honest, despite having to defend heavily from the potent Pirtek Racing Honda Civics of Martyn Depper and reigning BTCC Champion, Andrew Jordan.
The Pirtek pairing were hot on Holland’s heels right to the flag, but Holland soaked up the unrelenting pressure to take the finish in a season’s best 15th position and secure Rotek Racing’s first point in the super-competitive BTCC.
Sadly, Holland was a casualty in an incident-filled second race, punted into a spin after a three-lap Safety Car intervention and retiring to the pits with severe rear-end damage.
Undeterred, Holland returned to the fray and made a sensational start to the third and final clash of the weekend at Norfolk’s Snetterton circuit with a repaired Audi S3 saloon, scything from 28th to 18th on merit in a matter of six laps.
Unfortunately, a collision with James Cole’s United Autosports Toyota Avensis led to Holland’s second consecutive retirement, but the Rotek Racing driver remained upbeat and positive about the way his weekend had panned out.
“I’ve become wise to the starts here at Snetterton, because you can guarantee that something will kick off at Riches and, as usual, there was absolute carnage! There’s no margin for slides and contact because it only takes a touch here and there to ruin your race, but I tried to be smart about it, look for opportunities and I managed to sneak past. To score a point is fantastic and I’m so delighted with it, having fought for every place. We finally have a car we can race and, psychologically, it was important to do this straight after the summer break.
“It felt really great to fight on an even keel with Champions like Fabrizio Giovanardi and Andrew Jordan. While I would have preferred to finish all three races, I can’t be displeased with how this weekend has gone. In fact, I’m thrilled and feel the team has really turned a corner and by surging from 28th to 18th on merit shows we have the ability to fight for points on a regular basis.”
The Dunlop MSA British Touring Car Championship (BTCC) heads north of the border to Scotland’s Knockhill circuit for Rounds 19, 20 and 21 of the 2014 season (23-24 August).