Despite planning to field two Honda Accords for John Batchelor and Jim Edwards Jnr, Team B&Q Jet York City Racing were forced to withdraw the entry of the car for John Batchelor at the very last moment due to the late delivery of the second car.
Despite planning to field two Honda Accords for John Batchelor and Jim Edwards Jnr, Team B&Q Jet York City Racing were forced to withdraw the entry of the car for John Batchelor at the very last moment due to the late delivery of the second car. Given the lack of mileage on the car at the official TOCA test day earlier this month, the team were happy to be able to concentrate all of their efforts on a single car until the second car completes it's preparation.
Respected saloon car preparation expert, Mark Fish, has been drafted in to assist the regular team, and his experience proved invaluable through Saturday evening as the team were forced to work late into the night to repair the car after Jim Edwards Jnr suffered an unfortunate trip into the Paddock Hill gravel after just three laps of free practice. The excursion ended with the strikingly liveried car on its roof following a gentle roll. Due to the nature of the roll, no serious damage occurred to car or driver, apart from some very bent body panels on the car, which was repaired as best as possible under the circumstances. Sunday morning saw the car take to the track for qualifying as expected, although sponsors decals had been carefully repositioned to hide the remaining visible panel damage.
Following the unfortunate incident at Paddock Hill the previous day, the two qualifying sessions were largely sacrificed to allow the team to get to know the car and to make vital setup improvements.
However, with the race in mind, it was important to try and set a fast time too and, towards the end of the first session, a time of 1:42.987 was posted - good enough for 10th place on the production grid. Throughout the second 20 minute qualifying session the team continued to work on improvements to the car and were able to find a whole second in the car in that one session alone. Although this equated to a single place on the grid, it was a decent improvement nonetheless and the team were hopeful of pulling off a respectable result in the points after a number of other improvements that they planned to undertake overnight.
* Sprint Race
In an exciting battle amongst the production class runners, the two Edenbridge-run BMW 320is of Tom Boardman and Norman Simon powered past pole-sitter Mark Fullalove into an early lead, whilst the two Gary Ayles Motorsport Alfa 156s managed to come together as they came into Graham Hill bend. This embarrassing collision forced the safety car onto the circuit and the immediate retirement of the two teammates.
When racing got under way once again, the impressive Fullalove managed to find a way past the second-placed BMW of Norman Simon but was forced off the circuit at Clearways as the German attempted to re-pass. Further contact between Boardman and Mark Thomas at Paddock Hill Bend forced the two leaders out of the race and left the running order as Simon, Collard, Marsh, Edwards Jnr., Templeton; and that is how it finished, the team were pleased with their fourth place class finish and were looking forward to the feature race later in the day.
* Feature Race
With little time to prepare between the two rounds of the British Touring Car Championship, still more changes were made to the Honda's suspension to adjust the car to Jim's liking. "At the moment, Jim finds the car's handling too unstable so we've made the necessary changes to sort that out," said Peter Cate, acting as the team's Test & Development Driver. "The goal is to get Jim comfortable in the car so he can push on."
By the time the cars lined up on the grid for the feature race, there was a large crowd of almost 20,000 spectators packed into Brands Hatch; a figure not matched in recent years; a sure sign that the championship is back on track. When the race did finally got underway, the production battle was once again fascinating viewing, with Tom Boardman's big BMW playing cat and mouse with Rob Collard's little Renault Clio, the Hook-based privateer eventually coming out on top to take his maiden victory.
Team B&Q Jet York City Racing's Jim Edwards Jnr made progress up the leader-board through the early part of the race, running as high as fourth, but a fuel line failure with just nine laps to go forced him into the pits. Initial inspections suggested that the problem could not be fixed and so the car was pushed into the garage. Cruelly the team were able to rectify the problem before the end of the race but were prevented from sending the car back out into the race as once the car had been wheeled into the garage it was considered as retired from the event. If the problem had been able to be rectified on the pit apron, and had completed the race, it would have scored another fourth place finish and picked up another handful of points.
Despite their own disappointment, the team took some comfort from the fact that Rob Collard's Clio managed to take such a convincing win in the feature race after such a disastrous season last year. Team B&Q Jet York City Racing will be hoping for a similar improvement on their 2001 fortunes at the next race at Oulton Park in three weeks.
* Comments And Quotes
Jim Edwards Jnr: "Two words describe the weekend for me, promising and frustrating. Promising because we are starting to make an impact on the lap times after problems in the official test and the roll on Saturday; frustrating because of the potential points we lost in the feature race. But it's a new car to the team and with the limited running we have had these things take time to come together, I look forward to the next round at Oulton Park to see what improvements the changes we have planned will make."
John Batchelor: "Well, what can I say - an exciting and eventful few days - a typical BTCC weekend! From our point of view it was disappointing to only be able to run one of the cars but it probably worked out for the best, as we were able to focus fully on improving Jim's car throughout the weekend. Luckily our sponsors at B&Q and Jet are great people and understood our reasons for the lack of the second car. I can't wait to get back behind the wheel at Oulton Park and go out and have some real fun!"
Peter Cate: "Whilst the car is going to take some work to make it competitive again, we will be back up there. We know what the car needs to be competitive and we're working flat out to put it all together for Oulton Park in three weeks time."