JAMES NASH WILL NOT COMPETE AT BRANDS HATCH FINALE RML today confirm that James Nash will not be racing the Chevrolet Lacetti at the HiQ MSA British Touring Car Championship finale at Brands Hatch on the 3rd & 4th October. Following five very...
JAMES NASH WILL NOT COMPETE AT BRANDS HATCH FINALE
RML today confirm that James Nash will not be racing the Chevrolet Lacetti at the HiQ MSA British Touring Car Championship finale at Brands Hatch on the 3rd & 4th October. Following five very strong races in his debut season with Ray Mallock's Wellingborough-based squad, James will now be turning his attention to securing a budget for a full 2010 campaign.
Making his first appearance in the hugely competitive championship at Oulton Park in May earlier this year, James joined the series with enviable determination having witnessed both Jason Plato and Mat Jackson take a win each in their debut races with the team.
Armed with an impressive, though relatively young racing CV in comparison to his BTCC opponents - James finished second in the hotly contested British Formula Ford championship, taking 16 podiums in only his second year in 2007, and the following year went on to finish 5th overall in his first touring car season with the SEAT Leon Eurocup - the pressure was on for the Buckinghamshire racer.
Having qualified 16th for his debut race, James finished an impressive 11th, just missing out on a top ten, points scoring finish.
As the season reached half way point, the next venue was Croft for James' second event, a circuit on which he had been a previous race winner. Still learning the car and becoming familiar with a new team having not had the benefit of pre-season winter testing, James was keen to improve on his previous form at Oulton. And the weekend got off to a flying start with James setting a time worthy of P4 in the practice session, just 0.64s adrift of Racing Silverline's Jason Plato, who topped the timesheets in his Lacetti, and ahead of Jason's team-mate, Mat Jackson. All looked promising for a strong weekend.
James qualified 14th for race one, just 0.192s shy of current championship contender, Giovanardi's time but a 13th, 15th and DNF from Croft left James feeling a little disappointed for what might have been, with the knowledge that the weekend didn't reflect his true pace and ability. Both James and the RML team vowed to come back stronger at the next event.
And the next stop for the BTCC fraternity was Snetterton - a dramatic event that would become one of James' most gratifying in achievements to date, yet also a celebration that was marred by a difficult but unchallenged exclusion.
In only his third event in the championship, James took a win on track in race three, however contact with Collard's BMW - which pushed him into a spin and subsequent collision with Jelley as he recovered - resulted in James later being excluded following a steward's hearing in which they deemed James to have had an avoidable collision with Collard.
Focusing on the positives, James left the Norfolkshire track with his first points-scoring position of 8th place, having started from 16th on the grid for race two. And, having set the fastest lap in race three, maintained consistently quick race pace and managed to hold a gap of 0.333s over the then second- placed man, Turkington, nobody could deny James' raw speed and ability behind the wheel of the Chevrolet Lacetti. This was James' resurgence from his earlier run of bad luck as he missed Saturday's qualifying session due to a mechanical problem and retired from the first race with his second driveshaft failure from the weekend.
Returning to his home track having not raced there in 2008, James was thrilled to be back at Silverstone and with new found confidence in the car, was ready to challenge for the podium. All three RML-run Lacetti's featured in the top four during the second free practice session and the ever optimistic team knew that Silverstone's long, wide straights would favour the rocket-powered Lacetti's. And they did. James took his best qualifying position in the series and started race one from 3rd on the grid, 0.038s ahead of 4th placed man, Jason Plato.
In an action-packed race weekend, James played a key role in gifting the Chevrolet brand their first 1-2-3 finish in the BTCC since 1975 and RML's first ever 1-2-3 in the series. Silverstone proved to be a hugely rewarding event for all, not least for James, who savoured his first champagne celebration on the podium. Not only did he out qualify BTCC hero, Plato, but he outclassed current championship leader, Turkington in race one and took fastest lap honours.
The penultimate round took place at Rockingham Motor Speedway, which was to be James' last appearance in his 2009 BTCC campaign.
Unsure of what to expect from Rockingham, the RML team arrived at the circuit hopeful of securing some more top six positions for James, although all anticipated the BMWs to fare better on the unforgiving twisty track where tyre management is key.
Struggling to acclimatise to the track, James acknowledged that he didn't feel as comfortable in the Lacetti as he had at Snetterton and Silverstone and set to work on getting the best he could out of himself and the car. Despite great pace and some quick sector times, James was unable to merge his best times over one lap and was left a little disappointed to have qualified in 12th place, given that he was just two tenths off a potential 6th place grid slot.
James enjoyed some close, nose-to-tail racing in all three races, in particular with the Team RAC BMWs and the Vauxhall of Andrew Jordan, all three of whom became a
feature to each of James' three races. Some immensely mature and controlled driving, together with his quick thinking approach, ensured James had some inspired battles with the top end of the field and he was not only chasing, but often passing and defending from some of the more experienced and intimidating of stars. Despite the disappointing DNF for his third and final race, James took pleasure in his 7th and 8th placed finishes from races one and two, considering he found the Rockingham weekend one of the most challenging of the year.
The front-wheel drive cars in particular struggled all weekend with tyre wear and all three RML-run drivers suffered problems in each of the races with an intermittent lack of power assisted steering.
James Nash: "It's been quite a rollercoaster of a season for me this year! First I must say that I am thrilled to have made it to the BTCC grid this year and am so thankful to my sponsors; V Group International, Car vogue, Auto Windscreens and to RML for their support and for giving me this opportunity.
I came into the series a little on the back foot, having not sat in the car until the shakedown before Oulton, so I quickly had to adjust, to understand the car and get to know a new team, pretty much all during the practice sessions of each race weekend. But I had every confidence in RML, given their unrivalled successes in the BTCC through the years and more recently with their works Chevrolet team in the WTCC.
In just five events I am really pleased with my results and progress through the year and I really am proud to have been part of the team that gave RML their first 1-2-3 in the series and Chevrolet their first 1-2-3 since 1975. That, together with my podium, fastest laps and for receiving the accolade for highest number of places gained at Silverstone are some of my proudest racing moments so far. Of course I wish things had gone a little differently at Snetterton, to take my first win then would have been just fantastic, but that's all behind me and drawing on the positives, I have learnt a huge amount since then and have progressed as a driver.
I hope my results over the past few months have proved that I am a serious racing driver and a strong contender for race wins. As I mentioned before, I entered the championship this year with the hope of showcasing my skills and ability and to reach out and capture the imagination of potential investors and partners. I hope my recent performance, in particular at Snetterton and Silverstone have aided this.
Regrettably I will not be racing at Brands Hatch and instead I will turn my focus to securing the budgets for a full 2010 campaign. I really cannot wait to return to the series."
Paul Field, Team Manager: "I speak for everyone at RML when I say that James has had a very impressive first season in the BTCC. Most of the drivers in this series, aside from having a wealth of racing experience over James, have either been racing at this level for years, or have perhaps raced elsewhere, such as the WTCC and so are at the
top of their game. For a new, up and coming driver such as James, it would be easy to find the series quite intimidating, especially with so many big personalities, such as Jason Plato, Matt Neal and Fabrizio Giovanardi.
I think what has impressed me most this year is how quickly he has adapted. It takes time to jump in a brand new car, with a new team and be competitive, but James kept working at it, and remained 100% focused and realistic. He's achieved a tremendous amount this year and certainly has a very bright future in touring cars.