JAMES NASH SHINES AT SILVERSTONE SPECTACLE
Lining up on the grid in his best qualifying position to date in the RML- entered Chevrolet Lacetti, James was on target for a strong weekend ahead of the first of three HiQ MSA British Touring Car Championship rounds at Silverstone this weekend.
As the lights went out, Racing Silverline's Jason Plato shot past James, stealing 3rd, but the RML-driver remained unphased and he held onto 4th position, despite coming under increasing pressure from Team RAC's Colin Turkington. As James had earlier predicted, the Lacetti proved to have great pace and the number 23 car was able to stay ahead of Turkington, keeping the pressure well and truly on Plato during the early laps. Quicker through Becketts than the defensive Lacetti of Plato, James looked for every opportunity to pass, however mindful of the charging Turkington behind, James waited to make his move.
By lap 14, the Lacetti train had closed right in on Airwaves BMW man, Rob Collard. Plato was the first to strike, passing the BMW into Copse, swiftly followed by a perceptive move from James, taking him up to P3. Despite being clipped by Collard, James kept in control and again was eyeing up the back of Plato and a potential 2nd place finish.
Continuing to resist the threat from Turkington, James stayed with Plato and looked challenging on several occasions as the race unfolded, but unable to find enough room to attempt a pass, James secured the 3rd step on the podium, just 0.341s adrift of 2nd place. With Jackson taking the race win and Plato finishing 2nd, James' 3rd place gave RML their first 1-2-3 in the BTCC this year and it was the first Chevrolet 1-2-3 in the series since 1975.
Race two didn't quite go as planned for James, having been swamped by the BMW at the start, James found himself running in 6th place. Reporting tricky conditions as the drizzle turned to a sharp rain shower, James kept his focus and had worked his way back into podium contention as he jumped ahead of Giovanardi who had tangled himself with the sideways BMW of Collard.
A gap of just 0.375 over Giovanardi meant James wasn't in for an easy race, as the Italian challenged into Brooklands. The VXR racer looked up the inside at Luffield but couldn't find a way through until lap 7.
As the race hit midpoint, James was running in 6th place but on a full wet track, the rear-wheel drive BMWs of Turkington and Jelley looked to be struggling. Taking full advantage of their weakness, James passed Jelley for 5th place and again put in some quick laps as he chased for a second podium position.
But, a late-race clash with Tom Chilton's Aon Ford ended James' hopes in the gravel trap. It was a disappointing end to race two for the rookie driver, but James concluded it to be a racing incident between the two and looked ahead to race three.
On a drying track, race three got underway. James' strategy was simply to make a good start and make up as many places as possible, using the awesome pace of the RML-powered car to full advantage. James made a great start, and with a couple of the far more experienced BTCC drivers making mistakes at the back of the pack, James powered through into 9th position by the end of the first lap.
By lap 4, all three RML-run Chevrolet Lacettis were in the top eight and James began the chase to Stephen Jelley, who was in his own battle with Plato.
With Jelley now promoted to 7th having passed Plato into Brooklands, James closed in on the Lacetti ahead and a repeat of the race two chase began. Contact between James and Plato forced the latter to run wide, but managing to correct it, Plato maintained his position and crossed the finish line in 7th and James 8th.
Speaking on his third place finish from race one, James commented, "This result is absolutely fantastic. I couldn't wish for anything more. I was a little bit disappointed with the start, Jason got me off the line, but we carried the pace through and had a quick car throughout the race distance. I managed to keep the pressure on Jason and, whilst I know he has a championship he's fighting for, I am hunting for more good results and race wins.
This car is just fantastic to drive, it's been a dream all weekend so far and I couldn't be with a better team. We're continually improving and I am really enjoying racing with the Lacetti."
James' Race Engineer, Graham Norden added, "I've been really impressed with James this weekend. He came to the team with really, very little experience in touring cars, but in just four events, he has progressed incredibly well."
-credit: james nash