MATT PLAYS IT COOL FOR BRANDS VICTORY Matt Howson maintained his lead in the Formula BMW UK Championship by taking his third victory of the season in the latest meeting at Brands Hatch. Brands' short 'Indy' circuit layout is notoriously tough...
MATT PLAYS IT COOL FOR BRANDS VICTORY
Matt Howson maintained his lead in the Formula BMW UK Championship by taking his third victory of the season in the latest meeting at Brands Hatch.
Brands' short 'Indy' circuit layout is notoriously tough to overtake on, especially in cars as closely matched the identical Formula BMW single-seaters, so qualifying well is a necessity. Howson stuck his Filsell Motorsport machine on pole position early in first qualifying, and then calmly sat in the pits and watched as his 23 rivals flogged their cars around the track in a vain attempt to beat his pole time.
"I knew that a 47.0s lap was the best time I was going to get out of the car so I decided to save the tyres for the race," he explained.
With pole position secured, there was still the small matter of 25 laps around the famous track standing between Matt and another victory. He duly led the field away, established a secure advantage over the chasing Sam Bird and Oliver Turvey, and clocked up his fourth Formula BMW win in the last nine races.
"It was a typical Brands Hatch race, won and lost in qualifying," said Howson. "If you start on pole here then you must win the race, because it will be your own fault if you don't.
"Having said that, 25 laps around here is hard, because there are lots of places to make a mistake, especially when you're leading the race and don't have a car in front to focus on. So from a personal point of view it was really satisfying to drive every lap as fast as I could without any errors.
"I actually had about a one second lead before the safety car came out, which is pretty big by Brands standards. I don't think I did a good enough job of keeping heat in the tyres during the safety car period, because I was sliding a lot more afterwards. But the main problem I was battling with was really bad hay fever. By the end of the race my eyes were streaming and I was driving with one eye closed, so I was even more pleased not to make any mistakes."
Matt's bleary eyed post-race television interview will certainly make interesting viewing... Having qualified in sixth place for race two, Howson's focus was on bringing home as many points as possible. Trapped behind off-the-pace title rival Stian Sorlie, Matt ultimately had to be content with sixth.
"I was so much quicker than Stian but whenever I had a go at him, he would defend and that would push me back towards Turvey and the others," Howson explained. "So eventually I let him go and concentrated on defending my position, because there's only two points difference between fifth and sixth. If I'd been down in tenth or something like that then I would have had to do something about it, but sixth was okay."
Howson left Brands with a four-point championship lead over Bird, with Sorlie and early season pacesetter Nathan Antunes currently losing ground in the points battle, but with 12 rounds remaining, Matt isn't taking anything for granted.
"The points situation can change very quickly because you score so many for a win and so few for something like a fifth or sixth place," he said. "As long as we keep improving as a team, then the likes of Bird and Sorlie will find it hard to pull back points from me. I'm trying not to look too closely at the championship at the moment, but just to do the very best I can every weekend."