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  • Cobra Sport seeks to maintain BTCC title challenge at Thruxton

    The Cobra Sport AmD with AutoAid/RCIB Insurance Racing team will seek to maintain its early challenge for silverware when the Kwik Fit British Touring Car Championship heads for Thruxton for the third round of the year.

    The team has enjoyed a strong start to its first season running a pair of Honda Civic Type Rs, with a race win at Brands Hatch and top ten finishes in five of the six races run to date.

    Rory Butcher sits fifth in the early season standings but it just six points away from the championship lead, whilst he also sits just a point away from the Independents’ points lead and is top of the Jack Sears Trophy for those drivers who started 2019 without a podium finish to their name.

    Team-mate Sam Tordoff has a solid record at Thruxton in the past and has finished inside the top ten an impressive 13 times in 15 starts – including a podium finish back in 2015.

    Like Rory, Sam enjoyed a solid test at the circuit last month and goes into the weekend with his focus firmly on getting his own championship challenge back on track – with a big haul of points being the target.

    Rory Butcher, #6 Cobra Sport AmD with AutoAid/RCIB Insurance Racing Honda Civic Type R, said:

    “I’m certainly feeling in a good place heading to Thruxton with the way the season has gone so far. We’ve been quick at both Brands Hatch and Donington, and showed strong pace when we tested at Thruxton last month, which leaves me feeling optimistic about our chances.

    “Whilst it’s great to be where we are in the standings, there is still a long way to go in the season and we’ve seen that the new BMW in particular is going to be a tough car to beat with the pace it has shown so far. What we have to do is to focus on doing the best job that we can, and keep the same mindset that has served us well in the opening rounds.

    “The key is to try and make sure we are around the top six in all three races to keep the points ticking over and it would be good if we could keep our record of scoring at least 30 points from the weekend. I’m confident we have a package that will allow us to achieve that goal.”

    Sam Tordoff, #600 Cobra Sport AmD with AutoAid/RCIB Insurance Racing Honda Civic Type R, said:

    “There is no doubt that it’s been a frustrating start to the season for me as we have a quick car but I just haven’t been able to secure the kind of results we should be getting. I said ahead of Donington that that was where my season would start and unfortunately it didn’t, so it’s vital that this weekend I get some strong results and put some big points on the board.

    “As far as I’m concerned, Thruxton is make or break when it comes to fighting for the title as we can’t afford to lose more ground. We know that the Honda will be a strong package and I’ll also benefit from the fact that I’m not carrying any ballast – unlike a number of the other quick cars.

    “We had a good test last month and we’re all putting in the hard work. Hopefully the results this weekend will reflect that.”

    Shaun Hollamby, Cobra Sport AmD with AutoAid/RCIB Insurance Racing team principal, said:

    “We head for Thruxton this weekend confident of another strong showing given the pace we have seen in the first two rounds, and in the test last month.

    “Rory’s results so far have been hugely impressive and hopefully he can produce a similar performance to maintain his position in the championship. It’s no surprise to us to see him right at the sharp end of field, and long may it continue.

    “For Sam, a strong weekend is vital this weekend after what has been a tough start to the year but that has been down to bad luck more than anything. There is no doubt he is one of the quickest drivers on the grid and hopefully he can pick up the results to show that.”

  • Cobra Sport AmD with AutoAid/RCIB Insurance Racing maintains strong start

    The Cobra Sport AmD with AutoAid/RCIB Insurance Racing team maintained its strong start to the new Kwik Fit British Touring Car Championship season after showing front-running pace across the weekend at Donington Park.

    The team headed to the East Midlands circuit on a high after a breakthrough victory at Brands Hatch earlier in the month, with drivers Sam Tordoff and Rory Butcher confident about fighting at the sharp end of the field.

    Leeds racer Sam had endured a weekend to forget at Brands Hatch on his first outing in the team’s Honda Civic Type R, but looked well set to get his championship challenge underway after qualifying in a solid fifth place.

    Running fourth in the early stages of the race, Sam battled his way up into the podium places after an early safety car period, but damage sustained in a clash with Josh Cook would then lead to him suffering a spin going into the final chicane.

    Dropping down outside the points, Sam nursed the car to the finish to take 13th place and then went into race two focused on pushing back into the top ten.

    Up into ninth within three laps of the start, Sam’s race was going to plan early on but a hit from behind going into the Craner Curves on lap seven resulted in a high speed spin across the grass that dropped him down towards the rear of the field. From there, Sam drove well to recover to 14th, although it was very much a case of what might have been.

    Running the hard compound tyre in race three, Sam’s weekend ended with a 15th place finish.

    Fife ace Rory was keen to build on his Brands Hatch victory but was left on the back foot in qualifying when he was unable to get a clear lap in the changeable conditions and was left down in 19th place on the grid.

    The Scot fought his way forwards to eleventh in the opening race of the weekend and then set what would prove the be the fastest race lap of the weekend in race two with a storming run through to fifth.

    Sixth on the grid for race three thanks to the reverse grid draw, Rory produced a battling drive on the less favourable hard tyre to secure fourth place and heads away from the weekend sitting just six points off the championship lead.

    As at Brands Hatch, Rory also secured Jack Sears Trophy honours for the weekend.

    Rory Butcher, #6 Cobra Sport AmD with AutoAid/RCIB Insurance Racing Honda Civic Type R, said:
    “Qualifying was so disappointing as we didn’t get a decent lap in the conditions and it made race day tough. But I tried to make progress in each race and it worked. We got the fastest lap on the medium tyre and had the quickest car on the hard tyre in race three, which is really good.

    “Before race three I thought it would be nice to try and get my tally for the day up to 30 points and that’s what we did. That is the goal for each race meeting and I’m always looking at the bigger picture and the season as a whole.

    “The car was strong in the Thruxton test we did recently and whilst a little bit of ballast will hit us going there, we’ll be in the mix. It isn’t about fighting for pole, it’s about challenging for the points on race day that will be key later in the year.”

    Sam Tordoff, #600 Cobra Sport AmD with AutoAid/RCIB Insurance Racing Honda Civic Type R, said:
    “Unfortunately this weekend has been yet another disaster for me. We had another strong qualifying performance to take P5 on Saturday, and I thought our luck had finally turned. However, the contact in race one eventually broke the car and spat me off, and it set the tone for race two. We were coming through nicely and then got turfed off again, which ruined my race.

    “Being on the hard tyre in race three, we tried a few radical things thinking ahead to Thruxton. It seemed like a good time to experiment given that the rest of the day hadn’t gone to plan but sadly it didn’t work out, although we did set the fastest lap on the hard tyre.

    “We just have to keep trying and keep plugging away because our time will come.”

    Shaun Hollamby, Cobra Sport AmD with AutoAid/RCIB Insurance Racing team principal, said:
    “It’s been a bit of a mixed bag again this weekend. Rory has done a great job and has driven really well and it means he is right up there in the points after two rounds – and there on merit because he’s picked up some strong results and been right on the pace.

    “Sam has been unfortunate with contact in two of the races and it means that he hasn’t picked up the results that he deserves once again this weekend.

    “Clearly we have a fast race car and we can go to Thruxton feeling positive that both drivers will be able to push for the podium.”

    Photos by LAP - Laborne Action Photography

  • Lomax shows speed and is rewarded with Silverware in British Rallycross!

    Craig Lomax and his XtremeRX team headed to spiritual home of Rallycross, Lydden Hill in Kent for the annual Easter Monday meeting.

    Looking to build on his strong start at round 1. The plucky Yorkshireman drove his Cobra Sport backed C2 to a solid forth position at the intermediate stage still looking like he had more to give. But a second-row grid start gave him an opportunity for a clean and quick start. However, he was deemed to have jumped the start and was presented with the task of having to complete two joker laps. The first of which he took on the first lap and was jostled while doing so losing him valuable seconds on the race leaders. He opted to take his second joker on his third lap. It was only the first and second placed drivers that produced quicker joker times!

    Despite the penalty he finished 5th on track and collected third spot for the super 1600 class.

    The championship now has a short break and then heads to Pembrey in South Wales on 22nd and 23rd June for rounds 3 and 4. Track action gets underway at 09:00

    Craig Lomax, #24:

    ‘We are still getting used to the upgrades but we still have so much more to give. But 2 podium finishes in class for 2 rounds is such a great start. Thanks to all my sponsors and special thanks to the team who without them there’s no way I couldn’t get the car to the grid!’

  • Home Track Success for Motorbase Performance

    Team Shredded Wheat Racing with Gallagher kicked off the 2019 Kwik Fit British Touring Car Championship season in sensational style at its home circuit, taking victory in the final contest of the opening weekend at Brands Hatch (April 6/7).

    Tom Chilton secured his 15th BTCC career win during an action-packed closing race on the Kent circuit, adding to his earlier 3rd-placed podium and top-nine finish for the Motorbase-run squad during the 2019 curtain-raiser.

    Unfortunately, Chilton was later judged to have performed an illegal overtake on Matt Neal, resulting in a 5-second time penalty, dropping him back to 2nd place.

    Lewis Hamilton at Brands Hatch to support brother Nicholas Hamilton in the Motorbase Performance Focus RS

    Tricky racing conditions for the opening round of the season threw-up a conundrum for the grid. With an almost 50/50 split of teams opting to run on either slicks or wets on the damp track, both Chilton and team-mate Ollie Jackson took a risk on the medium compound starting from P13 and P27 on the grid.

    Banking on the drying track favouring slicks as the laps unfolded, the decision paid off. After initially dropping down the order in the opening laps, Chilton delivered a flawless drive in the #3 Focus RS. Making his way into the top 10 by lap 9, the Reigate-racer then went on a thrilling charge through the field to claim P3 at the flag for his first visit to the podium.

    Starting from the back of the grid, an inspired drive from Ollie Jackson saw the 34-year-old on a mission. Having made up an incredible 10 places by the mid-way point of the race, Jackson was running in P7 and looking set for a strong top-five finish before disaster struck. Losing power on lap 17 of the 24 lap contest, the Surrey-man was forced into the pits with an electrical issue, recording a DNF.

    Race 2 proved to be more of a scrappy affair for the Motorbase-duo. With both cars running on the soft-option tyre, Chilton also carried 39kg of success ballast on-board the #3 Focus. A strong start for the Gallagher-backed driver that saw him make a move on Jake Hill as the race leaders charged into Paddock Hill bend was rewarded with a P2 position. Regrettably, it was a short-lived result. After coming under relentless pressure from the charging pack, Chilton defended hard against the lighter opposition but dropped down the order to eventually cross the line in 9th.

    Jackson’s revival looked set to pay-off in race two. Starting from P28, another outstanding drive saw him scythe his way up into P16, inching the #48 Focus ever closer to a points-scoring finish as the race entered its final stages. Heavy contact on the closing laps, however, saw him grapple with the stricken car, and he did well to bring the RS home in P18.

    Starting from P3 by virtue of the reversed grid draw, Chilton’s ballast was dropped to 6kg for the final race of the day. Beaten off the line by the fast-starting rear wheel drive cars, Chilton dropped back to P6 at the first corner. A heroic battle back from the 34-year-old, however, saw him reclaim third by the end of the first lap.

    Chasing down lead pair of Neal and Jelley, Chilton made his move on the BMW on lap 8 to take second place before besting three-times BTCC-champion Neal as the two raced through Clearways on the following tour. With a clear run ahead of him, Chilton took a commanding race win in the #3 Focus RS, and his second visit to the podium.

    Regrettably, Chilton’s move was deemed as an illegal overtake by officials following the final race, and Chilton was handed a 5-second penalty, with the amended race result recorded as a P2 finish for the Motorbase driver.

    Jackson’s weekend woes sadly continued. After showing promising pace once more, heavy contact in the mid-pack saw the #48 Focus RS forced into the pits with race-ending damage, recording his 2nd DNF of the day.

    Having bagged a strong haul of points over the weekend, Team Shredded Wheat Racing with Gallagher left it home circuit sitting in 2nd place in the overall and Independent Teams standings, with Tom Chilton also 2nd in the overall’ and Independent Drivers’ championship points.

    Quotes:

    Team Manager Oly Collins:
    “A great weekend for Tom, and for Ollie it was a case of what should have been. After a tough qualifying session, Sunday’s results were an ideal way to start the season.

    “Ollie was looking good for a top 6 in race one but was cruelly taken out of contention with an electrical fault which ruined the rest of the day. For Tom, two podiums one of which was the top step on track was exactly the start to our championship attack that we were hoping for. We now head to Donington Park looking for the same consistency he showed last year.”

    #3 Tom Chilton:
    “We’ve had lots of ups and downs this weekend! Saturday was a pretty awful day if I’m honest. Considering all of the work and testing we’ve done in the pre-season it didn’t go in our favour in qualifying. But actually 13th wasn’t the end of the world after all, and we’re coming away from this weekend with two podiums, three top ten finishes and currently 2nd in the championship.

    “The decision after race 3 was a fair cop! I pushed to pass Matt Neal, and they’ve pushed me back with a 5-second penalty which meant I ended up finishing 2nd overall. Obviously, I’m gutted that I lost the win, but in hindsight, I should have backed off to let him back through. I genuinely hadn’t realised that I had done it until I watched the on-board back. I’m holding my hands up.

    “Even so, it’s been a great start to our season. It’s all to play for heading to Donington Park. We’re in a great position and we’ll keep working hard and pushing forward.”

    #48 Ollie Jackson:
    “The depressing thing about the weekend is that we’ve shown that we have the pace in the car. We’ve been in the mix all day, I moved forward repeatedly and we’ve just had no luck at all.

    “In the first race, we had a problem with one of the ECUs on the car. We’d managed to come up from the back of the grid to 7th before that. It doesn’t get better than that really. Race 3’s DNF was a result of contact on track, it was a very physical race.

    “The positives we can take away from the weekend are that Tom has proven the car is a race winner. We’ve clearly shown that the pace is in the car, we just need my luck to come together. I had a great time with the team. Off track, it’s been absolutely as I hoped it would be. In that respect, the weekend has met all of my expectations.”

  • Cobra Sport AmD with AutoAid/RCIB Insurance Racing secure first BTCC victory

    The Cobra Sport AmD with AutoAid/RCIB Insurance Racing team was able to celebrate a breakthrough victory after a dramatic opening to the 2019 Kwik Fit British Touring Car Championship season at Brands Hatch.

    The team headed into the season opener with high hopes of success on track after a solid pre-season testing programme with the Honda Civic Type Rs it is campaigning for the first time this year.

    Fife racer Rory Butcher would enjoy a strong start to his season having qualified eleventh on the grid for the opening race of the year in a tricky session held in damp conditions on Saturday afternoon.

    Early morning rain on race day led to a gamble on tyres for the opening 24 lap encounter of the year, with Rory electing to go with wet tyres on his Honda – as was the case for most of the drivers ahead.

    Whilst that proved to be the wrong call as the anticipated heavier rain didn’t arrive, Rory fought hard to secure a top ten finish as the third best driver on wet tyres.

    An eighth place finish followed in race two on the less favourable soft tyre, with the reverse grid draw putting the Scotsman fourth on the grid for the final race of the weekend.

    Whilst he slipped back to fifth early on, Rory fought back ahead of Tom Ingram’s Toyota into fourth place and then took advantage of a battle between Stephen Jelley and Matt Neal to pass both drivers in one go exiting Graham Hill Bend on lap 16.

    Lapping quicker than leader Tom Chilton ahead, Rory set about trying to chase down his rival before eventually crossing the line in second place for his maiden podium finish. However, a post-session penalty for an on-track incident for Chilton then promoted Rory into first place – meaning a first victory for both driver and team.

    Rory also secured Jack Sears Trophy honours for the weekend thanks to his combined results across the three races.

    Leeds-based team-mate Sam Tordoff however endured a challenging start to his season as a result of an unidentified issue with his car that would hamper his challenge on race day.

    Despite an off in qualifying that resulted in him losing his quickest time, Sam had qualified ninth on the grid for race one only for his race to come to an end on lap two when on-track content damaged the rear suspension on his car.

    At the back of the field for race two as a result, Sam fought his way forwards to 19th place at the finish and then just missed out on the points with 16th in race three as he was unable to build on the pace shown throughout pre-season testing.

    Rory Butcher, #6 Cobra Sport AmD with AutoAid/RCIB Insurance Racing Honda Civic Type, said:
    “It isn’t the way that you want to win a race, but you need a bit of luck in the BTCC sometimes and I’ll certainly take it. I’m so pleased to be the person who gives the AmD team its first win, and it’s an amazing feeling to be able to call myself a BTCC race winner.

    “I’m delighted with the weekend as a whole as we battled back from qualifying. I stayed calm and tried to progress in each race, and I knew that we could take advantage of it we had the chance to be near the front.

    “I can’t thank the team enough and we showed strong pace in each race in different conditions. The only mistake was not to roll the dice on the tyres in race one, but it’s a nice feeling to have some silverware and I’m buzzing about the way things have gone.”

    Sam Tordoff, #600 Cobra Sport AmD with AutoAid/RCIB Insurance Racing Honda Civic Type, said:
    “It’s hard to know what to say about the weekend to be honest. We had such high hopes of a strong performance but there has been a fundamental issue on my car that we just haven’t been able to resolve.

    “We have to just put Brands Hatch behind us, and my season will start when we get to Donington Park in a few weeks time.”

    Shaun Hollamby, Cobra Sport AmD with AutoAid/RCIB Insurance Racing team principal:
    “This really has been a weekend of mixed emotions for us as a team. We came here with such high hopes of a strong performance for both drivers and the fact we were disappointed with our best ever qualifying performance shows how our expectations have been raised this year.

    “On one hand, I’m delighted for Rory with the results he had gained on track as he has done a great job and has shown why we rate him so highly as both a driver and a person. He’s been on the pace throughout race day and for him to take our first win is brilliant.

    “On the other, it’s so disappointing for Sam as he has been quick throughout testing and then when it mattered today, he has been unable to show it through no fault of his own. His car will be stripped down when we get back to base to get to the bottom of the issues there have been today, as the results are certainly down to something with the car rather than anything he has done behind the wheel.

    “When we get to Donington Park, we’ll look forward to both cars running towards the sharp end.”

  • Lomax gets 2019 British Rallycross season off to a Strong Start at Silverstone

    Craig Lomax and his XtremeRX team headed to the season opener at Silverstone looking to get the 2019 campaign off to a good start.

    The sun shone down on the Northampton circuit for the entire day, stark contrast to the artic conditions of a year ago. The Cobra Sport Exhaust backed driver recorded second fastest in class during free practice and went on to notch up a top three finish in Q1. However, in Q2 Lomax was forced to pull up after contact with another car during a racing incident caused damage to the steering.

    The Liqui Moly backed driver then secured a solid fifth place while ensuring he kept out of trouble during the mele at turn one in Q3. This earned him a second-row grid spot for the first final of the year. After a great start Lomax found himself firmly in the leading pack in fifth spot at turn one, a position he held onto for the duration of the race in what is shaping up to be a fiercely competitive Supernational field for 2019.

    The championship now moves to Lomax’s favourite circuit, Lydden Hill for its traditional Easter Monday fixture. Action gets underway at 09:00am.

    Craig Lomax, #24:

    ‘It was the first time we had driven the car with all the upgrades we made over the winter and it feels so good. It makes you wonder where we could have been if we hadn’t had the knock in Q2.

    I must say the work that Cobra Exhausts and Steven (Gault) have done takes Sabrina to a whole new level. We have a lot more to give this year’

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