HOWSON FAST BUT OUT OF LUCK AT THRUXTON Matt Howson was among the fastest drivers in rounds three and four of the Formula BMW UK Championship at Thruxton yesterday, yet would go home without any points after hitting trouble in both ...
HOWSON FAST BUT OUT OF LUCK AT THRUXTON
Matt Howson was among the fastest drivers in rounds three and four of the Formula BMW UK Championship at Thruxton yesterday, yet would go home without any points after hitting trouble in both races.
Handling problems restricted Matt to ninth on the grid for the first race, not the position he expected to be defending his championship lead from, but changes to his Filsell Motorsport car helped Howson improve to a competitive third in second qualifying.
"Having made the decision to join a completely new team this season, I knew that there might be times when the set-up wasn't quite right, because -- unlike most of the other teams -- Filsell hasn't got a year's worth of data to fall back on," said Howson. "The conditions today are very different to the test and a lot of people were struggling this morning, but the car was much better this afternoon."
A superb start to the first race saw Matt angling for a top six position on the run into the complex, but he ran out of space and ended up back in tenth place. This set the tone for a race of luckless yo-yoing, as Howson scythed past Jordan Wise, Ross Curnow, Richard Keen and Nathan Antunes in the first three laps to reach sixth. Then a puzzling spin heading onto the backstretch sent Matt plummeting way down to 19th.
Another comeback charge was duly produced, but he ran out of time to make it into the points and, despite entertaining the spectators tremendously, he could only recover as far as 11th.
"I just spun a perfectly good car away," Howson admitted. "It just snapped sideways, it wasn't at all progressive, it just went. Maybe there was some dirt or grass on the circuit and I was the first one to hit it... or I was pushing harder when I did... I had the pace to get a podium, but the real point is that I should never have been down in tenth and trying to fight my way through anyway."
Race two was much better, at least until the final laps. Howson attacked poleman Sam Bird for the lead into the first corner, but as Bird braked early in defence, Keen swept around the outside of both of them. Matt then spent a while wheel-to-wheel with Stian Sorlie, a joust that ended in contact at Allard.
"Sorlie had passed me on the backstretch, then I'd got a run on him on the inside out of the chicane," Howson explained. "Then we touched quite heavily as we went through Allard and that bent my steering -- in fact we hit hard enough that I was worried he was going to roll."
The damage left Howson struggling for the remaining laps ("I've never had a car so out of tow in my life!"), although his efforts to repass the Fortec cars on the outside at the complex still earned Matt a round of applause from the spectators. He began to drift off the lead pace as his ailing car wilted further, but third place still looked secure until a late safety car period brought the rest of the pack -- and the hard charging Antunes in particular -- back onto Howson's tail. Pushing hard to hold onto his position, Matt clipped the kerbs at the chicane and spun into the wall and out of the race.
"We can talk about the car not being quite right this weekend, but the main thing is that I've made silly mistakes in both races and I can't afford to do that," said Howson. "At least I've got my bad weekend out of the way early in the season, now I've got to put it behind me and just get as many points as possible from now on."