The AmDTuning.com team enjoyed a winning start to its Dunlop MSA British Touring Car Championship campaign at Brands Hatch, securing its first success of the season in the new Jack Sears Trophy.
The West Thurrock-based outfit headed into the season-opener keen to challenge for a place on the top step of the podium amongst those teams running Super 2000-specification machinery, with Isle of Wight-based racer James Kaye making his debut at the wheel of the team’s turbo-powered Volkswagen Golf.
A strong run in the opening race of the weekend saw James doing battle with fellow S2000 runner Lea Wood and the NGTC-spec Volkswagen of Tom Onslow-Cole, with James hunting down Wood as the race wore on before making a move for position with four laps to go.
A 15th place finish gave him an overall championship point but was also good enough to see him become the first Jack Sears Trophy winner of the campaign; giving the AmDTuning.com team its first BTCC silverware in the process.
James looked to be well placed to repeat the feat in the second race as he led the S2000 runners through to the 20th lap when the Safety Car was deployed for an incident on track.
With an issue developing with his gearbox, and with an NGTC car ahead struggling with an issue of its own, James lost time on the restart and dropped behind Liam Griffin’s Ford, leaving him second in the Jack Sears Trophy despite improving on his overall position compared to race one; crossing the line in twelfth.
Sadly, the gearbox issue would force him to miss the final race of the weekend, although the 49-year-old was left pleased with the way in which the weekend had gone.
“It’s been fantastic,” he said, “I don’t know what else to say; maybe we just peaked a bit too early! The team did a great job with the car and it was perfect in the opening race, and we looked good again in race two despite the fact that the gearbox developed an issue on about the twelfth lap. Even with that problem, I think I could have still kept Liam behind but the Safety Car messed things up as it closed the field up and we lost out.
“It was the right call not to do race three and risk destroying the gearbox, but I think we can be happy with the way we’ve performed. We’ve shown we have the pace amongst the S2000 cars and were able to mix it with some of the NGTC cars as well, which is a good sign for the rest of the year.”
Team boss Shaun Hollamby was also pleased with the performance of the team in the opening meeting of the campaign, despite sharing the disappointment of the manner in which the race weekend had drawn to a close.
“I’m really pleased with our performance,” he said. “Coming to Brands Hatch, the target was to challenge for S2000 honours so to take victory in the first race of the year was fantastic. It’s a shame that the gearbox issue prevented us from adding to it, but that’s the first gearbox issue we’ve had in three years so we can’t be too despondent.
“It’s been a pleasure to work with James, and I think the whole team has worked well this weekend. We’ve found a few things we can improve for Donington Park and I think we can go there in confident mood given it’s a circuit where the VW has always gone well in the past.”