BLANCKLEY: WE CAN CHALLENGE AT 'THE ROCK' Simon Blanckley is upbeat that he and his team sibsport can get close to the top ten as the new independent team prepare for the second event of the Dunlop MSA British Touring Car Championship at ...
BLANCKLEY: WE CAN CHALLENGE AT 'THE ROCK'
Simon Blanckley is upbeat that he and his team sibsport can get close to the top ten as the new independent team prepare for the second event of the Dunlop MSA British Touring Car Championship at Rockingham Motor Speedway, Corby, this coming weekend.
Despite a lack of testing mileage coming into the first races at Brands Hatch at the start of April, sibsport achieved their aim of finishing round one, two and three of the season which gives them confidence coming into the next three rounds.
Sibsport's trip to Rockingham won't be their first with the Honda Integra Blankley is driving in his debut BTCC season. They, together with many other teams, tested at the track back in early March. Blanckley recalls "We had a difficult start to the test as we had an issue with the car's suspension settings. However, throughout the day we got more competitive and ended up setting a solid time on old tyres. I'm sure that now I know the car better and being on fresh tyres, we can get further up the order." Furthermore, the fact that the BTCC hasn't visited Rockingham since 2003 counts in favour of sibsport, according to Blanckley. "It's a more level playing field, as only a few drivers on the current grid raced here in the BTCC event in 2003. I've driven here a few times before in other championships and know the track possibly a bit better than some other drivers."
Blanckley also feels that the experience the team gained from their debut weekend at Brands Hatch will be invaluable for the rest of the season. "Taking in all the practice sessions, qualifying and the three races, we got over 100 laps of data, which is priceless for car setup," explains Blanckley, who left Brands Hatch with one of the only cars to survive totally unscathed from the weekend's action.
The Durham 'born and bred' driver admits he was slightly nervous during his debut BTCC weekend, the most popular UK-only motorsport championship. "Honestly, it was a bit daunting, especially when you look at the number of fans that came to see us. When the pit lane opened for public to take the lunchtime walkabout, we could just see a tidal wave of people coming down towards our garage. It was an amazing site. It was great to meet the fans, though, and it was really good to see how happy the children were in particular when I signed autographs for them and we gave out caps and t- shirts. It's nice to be so accessible, which is why the BTCC and its community is such a hit with the public."
With the spirits high within the team on the back of the positive series debut, sibsport will be looking for logical development at Rockingham. "The aim for Brands Hatch was to finish the three races, which we achieved. At Rockingham, we'd like to improve our race pace and get closer to the top ten. I think it's realistic," concludes Blanckley.
Following Rockingham, the championship moves on to the fastest circuit in the country - Thruxton in Hampshire - for rounds seven to nine on May 6th.