With Ireland out of the World Cup, losing so cruelly to Spain on penalties, some people might be thinking the Irish will have nothing to cheer for this weekend. But that is definitely not the case, as the MSA Green Flag British Touring Car ...
With Ireland out of the World Cup, losing so cruelly to Spain on penalties, some people might be thinking the Irish will have nothing to cheer for this weekend. But that is definitely not the case, as the MSA Green Flag British Touring Car Championship rolls into the Emerald Isle for rounds 9 and 10 - the halfway point of an already action-packed season.
After an exciting first-visit to the Mondello Park circuit last year, many of those who attended will return and bring their friends. With the absence of a BTCC night race this season it looks like this will be the meeting with the biggest party atmosphere. Jim Edwards Jnr and Peter Cate, driving for the Team B&Q Jet York City Racing outfit, are hoping that they will be having a party of their own on the plane home on Monday morning if they continue to impress as they have so far this season.
Jim Edwards enthuses, "I can't wait to arrive at the circuit this weekend; I really fancy a good thrash around a tight twisty track. At the recent test day at Donington Park my car was fastest out of the Melbourne Hairpin so that stands us in good stead for the twists and turns that will greet us in Ireland."
"I have never raced at Mondello, so we will be doing our best to learn the circuit in Free Practice on Saturday morning" tells Peter Cate. This race weekend will be a learning experience for the team too, as they decided to sit out the trip across the Irish Sea last season. "What a difference a year makes, this time last year we were really struggling, but here we are in a good position in the drivers championship and have two excellently prepared and competitive motor cars," says team-boss John B&Q.
Silverstone was probably our worst race weekend this season when it comes to pure bad luck. After promising so much it did not live up to our expectations in terms of results, with Jim's car grinding to a halt with gearbox gremlins in sight of a podium finish. This followed on from an enforced engine change on Sunday night and a broken exhaust on Peter's car during qualifying, resulting in lower than expected qualifying positions for both cars.
Starting nearer to the back of the grid than he is used to, Peter Cate gambled on fitting slicks tyres to his car, diving back into the pits after his out lap. Despite setting fastest lap of the race on the drying track, the gamble did not pay off as he struggled for grip in the opening laps. Jim meanwhile, having elected to start on wet weather tyres, brought his car home in a solid fifth place. In the feature race it was Peter's turn to finish in fifth place after a hard panel-bruising battle with Beacon Motorsport's Mark Thomas whilst Jim was forced out of the race, whilst running in third place, with gear linkage troubles.
The team have been putting in the hours since the last race at Silverstone with a fair bit of panel damage on Peter's car to repair and the gearbox troubles with Jim's car to fix. They have also found time to squeeze in a test day at Donington Park, "My Honda Accord was the quickest car around the Melbourne Loop section at the test so I am very encouraged with latest developments from the team," said Jim after finishing in 5th spot at the test. "We tested the new dampers which have finally arrived, differential settings and a number of changes to the geometry which will stand us in good stead on exit speeds at the slow corners," states Peter Cate, who was also present at the test.
The man to beat is again expected to be James Kaye in his ultra quick Honda Civic Type-R but, as has been proved this year, anything can happen. "We just aim to get the best out of our cars and give our drivers the opportunity to do a good job, and we will see where that leaves us. It will be near the front end of grid that is for sure," explains team-boss, John B&Q, who will miss the journey to Ireland due to other business commitments.
With Jim lying in fourth place in the drivers championship the team are determined to make the most of their first visit to the circuit and any thoughts of 'what might have been' if he'd finished at Silverstone will be put to the back of our minds as we strive to get our cars back to the front of the grid. We are still in contention for some serious points and believe that either of our drivers can score another podium visit for the team.
So if you are attending the meeting from the UK give us a cheer and for those of you in Ireland who have not seen the most exciting and colourful team on the grid then visit the Team B&Q Jet York City Racing garage to say hello and see what all the fuss has been about over the past couple of seasons!
<pre> Event Timetable
Saturday 22nd June
09.00 Legends 2002 Championship Qualifying 20 mins 09.30 Green Flag MSA British Touring Car Championship Free practice 40 mins 10.20 Dunlop RT2000 Qualifying 20 mins 10.50 Senior Formula Ford Qualifying 30 mins 11.30 Green Flag MSA British Touring Car Championship Free practice 40 mins 12.20 Heritage Grand Touring Car Challenge Qualifying 30 mins 12.50 Lunch Break 45 mins 13.45 Legends 2002 Championship Heat 1 - 5 laps 14.15 Green Flag MSA British Touring Car Championship Qualifying 43 mins 15.10 Dunlop RT2000 Race 12 Laps 15.55 Legends 2002 Championship Heat 2 - 5 laps 16.20 Heritage Grand Touring Car Challenge Sprint Race 20 mins 16.55 Senior Formula Ford Race 12 Laps 17.25 Legends 2002 Championship Final 7 laps
Sunday 23rd June
09.30 Legends 2002 Championship Heat 1 - 5 laps 10.00 Formula Ireland Qualifying 20 mins 10.35 Legends 2002 Championship Heat 2 - 5 laps 11.00 Pitlane walkabout 45 mins 12.15 Green Flag MSA British Touring Car Championship Sprint Race 15 laps 13.15 Senior Formula Ford Race 15 Laps 14.00 Heritage Grand Touring Car Challenge Endurance Race 30 mins 14.45 Legends 2002 Championship Final 7 laps 15.30 Green Flag MSA British Touring Car Championship Feature Race 25 Laps 16.30 Formula Ireland Race 12 Laps 17.25 Dunlop RT2000 Race 12 Laps