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  • AmD with Cobra Exhausts adds more points at Croft

    BTCC Croft 2018 Audi S3 AmD Cobra SportThe AmD with Cobra Exhausts picked up more points as the 2018 Dunlop MSA British Touring Car Championship season reached the half way stage at Croft.

    The team made the trip to North Yorkshire seeking to build on a strong weekend at Oulton Park, with the Audi S3 having been right on the pace in the corresponding meeting twelve months ago.

    Having shown good pace through free practice, Tamworth-racer Ollie Jackson led the team’s challenge in qualifying with the 16th best time, which left him well placed to push for points in the opening race of the weekend.

    Moving up to 14th spot on the opening lap and avoiding a clash ahead at turn one, Ollie ran inside the top 15 throughout to add two points to his championship tally.

    More points looked possible after a strong start to race two saw Ollie running just outside the top ten, but he was then forced to pit when debris thrown up by a car ahead blocked the air intake on the front of the car.

    Whilst he was able to rejoin, he was well down the order and could only finish 25th, with the final race of the weekend seeing him restricted to 22nd on the slower hard compound tyre.

    Team-mate Sam Smelt was racing at Croft for the first time, with the Northampton-based driver qualifying in 32nd spot – his preparations for the session being hampered by a fuel pump issue that cost him valuable time in practice. 

    The rookie would pick up a 25th place finish in the opening race of the weekend and then went one better in race two as he battled with the rear of the midfield pack.

     His weekend would draw to a close with a 26th place finish in race three as he achieved his aim of three finishes to gain further vital knowledge to carry into the second half of the year.

    Ollie Jackson, #48 AmD with Cobra Exhausts Audi S3, said:

    “We showed some really good pace this weekend and I certainly think we deserved better. The car was mega in qualifying and if it hadn’t been for a fuel surge costing us a few tenths or a second, we might have actually broken into the top ten.

    “We were able to learn a few lessons with the set-up on Sunday, but really the day was spoiled with the bad luck of flying debris landing over the air intake, which forced me to pit and cost us a good finish in race two.

    “Without that, we could easily have been walking away from Croft and going into the summer break with a couple of top tens instead of a couple of points. Still, we’re now establishing ourselves as a team that is capable of consistently threatening the top ten, so I think we can look forward to a strong second half of the year.” 

    Sam Smelt, #23 AmD with Cobra Exhausts Audi S3, said:

    “We had a couple of issues in practice which cost me vital time on track to learn the circuit considering I have never been to Croft before. It made it tough going into qualifying and it was all about trying to make progress from there in the races. 

    “It was difficult to try and come through the field but in race three, the car was the best it has been and we made a good step forwards; I was just out of position to make the most of the pace we had. But considering the amount of laps I’ve done around Croft, it was a positive weekend.

    “I’m really looking forward now to going to Snetterton after the summer break as it is the circuit where I have done the most lasts in the car and I’m hoping to push towards the points.” 

    Shaun Hollamby, AmD with Cobra Exhausts team principal, said:

    “It’s been a good weekend for both Ollie and Sam. We knew coming here that the car should be strong and Ollie showed that with the way in which he drove in the qualifying and the opening race. It was just unfortunate with what happened in race two as it robbed him of the chance to more points. 

    “Sam also did a good job considering it was his first time at the circuit and he improved his performance throughout the weekend to be in a position where he was showing genuine pace in the final race.

    “So far this season we have made good progress with the Audi and I think we can be confident about the second half of the year.”

  • AmD with Cobra Exhausts battles to Oulton Park top ten

    Race 3 Podium - BTCC Oulton ParkThe AmD with Cobra Exhausts team enjoyed a strong weekend on track at Oulton Park to secure a top ten finish from the latest rounds of the Dunlop MSA British Touring Car Championship season.

    The team made the long trip to Cheshire hoping to challenge for points at a circuit where the Audi S3 had been strong twelve months ago.

    Tamworth based Ollie Jackson led the team’s challenge in qualifying to put his car 18th on the grid, with his best lap just eighth tenths of a second off pole in the ultra-competitive field.

    A battling drive in the opening race saw Ollie rewarded with a points finish in 14th after a heated fight in the midfield, with the 34-year-old managing to beat title hopeful Tom Ingram in a drag race to the line. 

    Running the soft compound tyre in race two, Ollie produced one of the best drives of his BTCC career to date as he battled his way forwards into the top ten before going wheel-to-wheel with title hopefuls Ingram and Jack Goff. The end result was a strong ninth place finish, leaving Ollie well placed to add to his tally in race three.

    A good start saw him immediately jump up to seventh spot but the race would then be halted because an accident, with the grid reformed in its original positions. This time around, Ollie would fall victim to contact from the Honda of Dan Cammish on the opening lap, which resulted in a puncture and an unscheduled visit to the pits. 

    Despite ending up down in 21st place as a result, Ollie ended the weekend as top scorer in the Jack Sears Trophy with a trip to the podium to end proceedings.

    Rookie team-mate Sam Smelt was left on the back foot going into race day after a difficult qualifying session saw him starting down in 31st place, with the Nottingham-based driver ending the opening race of the weekend in the same position.

    Making up six places on the opening lap of race two, Sam looked set to make progress through the field until contact forced him to retire with damage to the front of his car, which was fully repaired in time to take the start of race three.

    Avoiding the carnage ahead at the start of race, Sam produced his strongest race so far in the final race of the weekend as he broke into the top 20 for the first time, with a finish of 17th being his best to date.

    Ollie Jackson, #48 AmD with Cobra Exhausts Audi S3, said:

    “The big thing this weekend is that we had a better qualifying and it left us in a position to challenge on race day. We’ve showed strong pace throughout race day on both types of tyre and have secured two good results on merit and not simply because others have gifted us places. 

    “In the second race in particular, we were a match for anyone in the closing stages on the soft tyre and the team has done a brilliant job with the car – it was spot on.

    “Okay so it’s a bit disappointing that contact in the final race has robbed us of a potential top ten finish but I feel there is a lot we can take away from this weekend and we have something to build on next time out at Croft. 

    Sam Smelt, #23 AmD with Cobra Exhausts Audi S3, said:

    “I really need to work on my qualifying as that is what has held me back this weekend. Starting from the back of the grid it was always going to be difficult but we made some changes to the car ahead of race day that improved things and I was able to find more speed.

    “Although the first two races weren’t the best, it was good in race three to be in the mix and I’m pleased to have got my first top 20 finish under my belt. I think where we have finished this weekend gives us a good place to start when we go to Croft.” 

    Shaun Hollamby, AmD with Cobra Exhausts team principal, said:

    “Even though we got on the podium at Brands Hatch, I’d say this was the best weekend we’ve had this season with the Audi. Ollie’s performance in the second race was particularly impressive as he held his own against some of the best drivers on the grid. I’m sure he could have had a top ten in race three without the contact.

    “It’s also good to see Sam get his best result so far in the sister car. It wasn’t an easy weekend and we know he still has a long way to go but he continues to make progress and is working his way forwards like we knew he would as the season goes on.

    “The results here leave me optimistic about what we can do at Croft next time out as it is somewhere where the Audi was strong last season so fingers crossed for another strong performance.”

  • Challenging weekend for AmD with Cobra Exhausts at Thruxton

    The AmD with Cobra Exhausts team was unlucky to come away from Thruxton without any points on the board after a challenging third weekend of the Dunlop MSA British Touring Car Championship season.

    The team headed for the fastest circuit on the calendar hoping to challenge for top 15 places but it would prove to be a tough weekend for drivers Ollie Jackson and Sam Smelt.

    Ollie had been eager to add to the points he scored during the opening meeting of the year at Brands Hatch but was on the back foot after qualifying having had to settle for 29th on the grid.

     The close nature of the pack meant overtaking would be tough in the opening race, with the Tamworth-based driver only able to work his way up to 25th despite being quicker than a number of his rivals ahead. 

    A solid drive in race two saw Ollie fight his way to 17th and left him well placed to try and push for points in race three only for contact on the opening lap to force him across the kerbs at the chicane.

    Although he was able to run in 16th for the opening laps, the kerb strike had damaged the front right tyre which then let go on lap eight; forcing him into the pits to retire.

    Northampton-based team-mate Sam was racing at the fearsome Hampshire venue for the first time in his career and lined up in 32nd spot on the grid for the opening race.

    A 28th place finish in the opening race was followed by 24th in race two and 26th in race three as the rookie was able to gain further valuable experience of racing in the highly competitive series. 

    Having struggled to maintain the progress made in the opening two rounds of the year, Sam will now hope to return to form next time out at Oulton Park.

    Ollie Jackson, #48 AmD with Cobra Exhausts Audi S3, said:

    “I think we were on the back foot in practice a bit after missing the test and then we mis-read the conditions in qualifying which left us out of position on the grid. We changed the car for the races and just got our heads down to try and work our way forwards. 

    “With the field as it is, it was hard to make progress but we got into a position where we could try and push for some points in race three. Unfortunately I got hit on the opening lap, which forced me across the kerbs and damaged the front right. 

    “It’s unfortunate as we could have scored but we have shown decent race pace again and should be going home with something to show for it.”

    Sam Smelt, #23 AmD with Cobra Exhausts Audi S3, said:

    “This weekend has been a tough one for me as Thruxton is such a unique circuit. Qualifying was difficult and even though the first race went quite well, I struggled in races two and three. 

    “This is a circuit where I think experience plays a big part and the fact I hadn’t been here before and didn’t have much mileage under my belt didn’t help. I’m hoping that when we go to Oulton Park, I’ll be closer to the pace and can put this weekend behind me and try and build on the results from Brands Hatch and Donington Park.”

    Shaun Hollamby, AmD with Cobra Exhausts team principal, said:

    “As at Donington Park, this is a weekend when we could have scored points with the Audis and it is unfortunate that we come away from Thruxton without adding to our tally. We were on the back foot after qualifying and it wasn’t easy to make up places in the races, which you could see across the whole field.

    “Despite that, Ollie had got himself into a good position for the final race and it was only down to bad luck that he picked up tyre damage as without that, I’m sure he would have brought home some points.

    “It was a tough weekend for Sam but this is a challenging circuit for a rookie visiting for the first time and it would have been easy for him to make a mistake and put the car off track. As it was, he picked up three finishes and the extra track time will only help him moving forwards.”

  • Strong pace unrewarded in the BTCC at Donington Park

    The AmD with Cobra Exhausts team was left to wonder what might have been after missing out on more strong points as the Dunlop MSA British Touring Car Championship headed for Donington Park for the second round of the year.

    The team was looking to build on a fine season opener at Brands Hatch, where Ollie Jackson had picked up a podium in his Audi S3 and rookie Sam Smelt had secured three solid finishes on his series debut.

    The Cobra Sport team attended the event with the events trailer, providing quotes for direct fit & custom build performance exhausts along with stocking the expanding range of AmD with Cobra Exhausts official team wear.

    Ollie qualified in 27th place having been stripped of his best time in the session for exceeding track limits; a lap that would have put him 18th on the grid for his 150th race in the series.

    Showing the pace in his Audi, Ollie made up six places on the opening laps and was making good progress until he came up behind the Honda of James Nash, with ultra-defensive driving from his rival leaving him to finish the race in 19th place.

    Going into race two, Ollie was keen to continue his forward progress and moved up five places on the first lap into the points scoring positions. Having climbed to twelfth, a top ten finish looked like being on the cards before contact from Rob Collard’s BMW at the start of the fourth lap saw him go off track at Hollywood.

    Forced to pit as a result, he would end the race down in 29th place, which is where he then started the final race of the weekend. A storming first lap saw him rocket up to 18th place despite being on the less favourable hard tyre and although he would get up into the points, Ollie would be shuffled back to 16th at the finish – just missing out on adding to his championship tally.

    Team-mate Sam enjoyed an impressive performance in qualifying at the wheel of the sister Audi to qualify in 18th place, with his focus for race day being to try and gain valuable experience of running in the pack.

    Maintaining a place inside the top 20 in the early laps, Sam lost places when an error on lap four saw him run off track and from there, he focused on bringing his car to the finish which he did in 28th spot.

    Race two would end in disappointing fashion when driveshaft failure forced him to retire after eight laps whilst there was further misfortune in race three when, having made up five places, he was tipped into a spin at the Old Hairpin that dropped him off the back of the field; a 24th place finish being the end result.

    Ollie Jackson, #48 AmD with Cobra Exhausts Audi S3, said:

    “This is a weekend that could have been so different, and we could easily have come away from it with three good points finishes. As it is, we come away from it with nothing on the board despite having good pace in the car once again. 

    “If anything, the performance of the Audi was actually stronger than it was at Brands Hatch but where we were in qualifying hurt our chances. Race one was going well until we came up behind the Honda and there is no doubt we’d have had a top ten in race two without being punted off. 

    “On the hard tyre, it was a case of doing what we could in race three and we nearly got some points so I’m not disheartened. Clearly we have good speed in the car and hopefully we can be back in the points at Thruxton.” 

    Sam Smelt, #23 AmD with Cobra Exhausts Audi S3, said:

    “I took a big step forwards in qualifying and to be 18th on the grid was fantastic as it put me right in the mix. I have to hold my hands up that I made a mistake in race one which was a shame, and then in race two, there was nothing I could do about a mechanical problem that forced us out. 

    “In race three, I got hit off track which dropped me way behind the rest of the field and it just sums up the luck I had on race day if I’m being honest. Despite that, I’m not disappointed because I’ve been able to learn a huge amount again – more than I did at Brands Hatch. The aim now is to keep making progress at Thruxton in a few weeks time.”

    Shaun Hollamby, AmD with Cobra Exhausts team principal, said:

    “Both Ollie and Sam have done a good job on race day and it’s unfortunate that the end results don’t reflect it. Ollie was on the back foot after qualifying but the pace he showed in the three races was very encouraging and he could well have come away from the weekend with some good points on his board.

    “Sam has also taken a big step forwards in terms of his performance this weekend and it is unfortunate that luck wasn’t on his side on race day, but he I hope that when we get to Thruxton he can continue to move his way forwards towards the points scoring positions.”

  • AmD with Cobra Exhausts Stun with Podium at Brands Hatch!

    The AmD with Cobra Exhausts team enjoyed a stunning start to the new Dunlop MSA British Touring Car Championship season with a fine podium finish at Brands Hatch.

    The team went into the opening meeting of the campaign eager to impress, with returning driver Ollie Jackson keen to push for points and series debutant Sam Smelt targeting valuable mileage to build his experience. 

    Tamworth-based Ollie showed solid pace throughout practice but the tight nature of the times meant he had to settle for 23rd on the grid in qualifying despite being just six-tenths of a second away from pole position. Northampton-based Sam meanwhile lined up 32nd on the grid for race one with a best time less than 1.2secs off pole. 

    Rain greeted the team for the opening race of the weekend but Ollie reveled in the wet conditions when the lights went out, fighting his way up to 16th place on the opening lap and into the points by the time the Safety Car was deployed on lap two. 

    Racing hard in the midfield throughout, he brought his Audi S3 home to the finish in twelfth spot to pick up some early championship points whilst Sam achieved his aim of a solid finish in 24th. 

    Changeable conditions going into race two left teams with a decision to take over which tyres to run, with Ollie and the team gambling on going with slick rubber on the drying track. 

    Early on, that meant he slipped back down the order but as the circuit conditions improved, so he started to rapidly climb his way up the order. From 21st at the end of lap twelve, Ollie had raced his way into the top eight by lap 20 and continued to pick off the drivers ahead to run in a four-car train battling for the lead with three laps to go. 

    When one of those cars ahead then ran off track, Ollie moved into third place to secure his maiden BTCC podium, a first for the Audi S3 and the team’s first since Knockhill in 2014.

    Sam elected to run with wet tyres and that allowed him to climb up into the top 20 in the early stages of the race but he would ultimately finish 25th when the performance of his tyres dropped away.

    Fourth on the grid for race three thanks to the reverse grid draw, Ollie made a strong start despite being forced to carry success ballast on his car and climbed up to second when the lights went out. 

    Although he would slip back to seventh place, Ollie looked well placed to pick up another strong finish only for contact on the final lap to cost him valuable places as he crossed the line in 14th.

    Sam’s strongest drive of the weekend was rewarded with another 25th place finish as he got involved with racing with the pack; gaining valuable experience to take forwards into the races to come.

     Ollie Jackson, #48 Audi S3, said:

    “It’s been an emotional weekend. We’ve worked so hard as a team to improve the Audi and have been getting quicker and quicker, and today we’ve been able to fight for strong results across all three races. 

    “Race one was perhaps the race of the day to be honest and to come from where we where on the grid to finish twelfth was really good and helped to set up the result in race two.

    “We knew it was a gamble to go with slicks but also knew that the circuit was only going to get drier and it proved to be the right call. The car was absolutely fantastic and to bring home a podium was beyond our expectations coming into the weekend.

    “Even with the success ballast onboard for race three, we could well have had a top five finish had we not been hit off track a few times, which also cost us the Jack Sears Trophy this weekend.

    “However, I can’t go away from a weekend where I’ve taken my first podium feeling disappointed and I think we have shown this weekend that we deserve to be taken seriously in this series and aren’t just here to make up the numbers. We have to now try to build on this and fight for regular points as the season goes on." 

    Sam Smelt, #23 Audi S3, said:

    “It’s been a good weekend for me. Coming into the weekend my aim was to have three clean races and pick up three finishes and that is what I’ve managed to do. I think I improved in terms of my performance on track every time I went on track, and the feedback I was able to give the team has also improved.

    “It’s been good for me to sample all kinds of weather and the experience will only aid me going forwards through the rest of the year. This weekend has been a case of mission accomplished and my focus now is on trying to take another step forwards when we get to Donington Park.”

    Shaun Hollamby, AmD with Cobra Exhausts team principal, said:

    “It’s been a fantastic weekend to start the season and to come away with a podium is way more than we could have imagined.  The team has worked hard all weekend to improve the car and both Ollie and Sam have done a good job on track.

    “Ollie has driven better than he has ever done before across race day and he made the most of the tyre call in race two with a fantastic performance. To secure his first podium in that way was brilliant but it was just as impressive to see how he drove with extra weight in the car in race three. If anything, that showed the steps forward we have taken with the Audi and he certainly deserved more than he got.

    “The conditions this weekend have made it difficult for Sam given his experience, but he has done exactly what we wanted him to do. He stayed out of trouble, has got quicker as the weekend has gone on and put in a solid drive in race three.

     “I have to give huge thanks to everyone involved with the team for their efforts on a weekend like this, particularly the likes of Cobra and Carbon Clean as we wouldn’t be racing without their support and hopefully we can build on these results as the season goes on.”

  • Ollie Jackson and Sam Smelt confirmed for 2018 BTCC season

    The AmDTuning.com with Cobra Exhausts BTCC team can today confirm that Ollie Jackson and Sam Smelt will race the teams Audi S3s in the 2018 Dunlop MSA British Touring Car Championship season.

    The team heads into the new campaign seeking to build on the impressive progress made throughout last year, when it picked up it’s best points haul in the series to date. Tamworth-based Ollie returns for a third successive season with the team on the back of a strong 2017 that saw him start a race from pole, lead a race for the first time and finish inside the top ten in the Independents’ championship standings.

    He will seek to build on those results to regularly push towards the top ten, with the 33-year-old aiming to make the most of improvements being made to the Audi over the winter to try and push for a maiden podium finish. Ollie will also look to challenge for honours in the revised Jack Sears Trophy, which is now open to drivers who go into 2018 having yet to take to the overall podium.

    New team-mate Sam meanwhile will be making his debut in the series this season as he makes a return to tin-top competition for 2018. The 21-year-old from Northampton ended last year racing in the BTCC-supporting British F4 series, having earlier competed in the Volkswagen Racing Cup. Having graduated from karting twelve months ago, this season will be Sam’s second year in car racing, with the youngster looking to gain as much experience as possible to make progress up the highly-competitive grid.

    Work is currently ongoing to prepare the two Audis for pre-season testing, which is scheduled to get underway in February ahead of the opening meeting of the season.

    Ollie Jackson, #48 Audi S3, said:

     

    “I’m delighted to be returning with the team for a third season with the Audi and am really excited about what 2018 holds. We made a lot of progress last year but I don’t feel the job is finished yet, and I’d like to think that we can continue to build on everything we learned in 2017.

    “The testing programme we have in place means we can do some proper pre-season running, and will allow us to be fully prepared for the start of the season at Brands. We’ll be able to hit the ground running and can then focus on maximising our performance on track.

    “Having regularly challenged for points last year, the aim for me is to push for top ten finishes from the outset and I certainly feel that a podium could be possible if things fall our way. Independents’ class wins and the Jack Sears Trophy are certainly realistic, and I feel we have a good chance of coming away from 2018 with some silverware.”

    Sam Smelt, #23 Audi S3, said:

     

    “I really enjoyed the chance to sample the Audi when I tested back in November and came away from the day having ticked all the boxes I felt I needed to tick. Given how well it went with the team, I saw a good chance to make the move up the BTCC and am delighted that we’ve been able to agree a deal.

    “I’m really excited about the fact that I’m going to be competing in the series this season, but I’m also aware that the step up is a big one in my second year of car racing. I think this will be a learning year for me, particularly in the first half of the season, and I’ll have to take it race-by-race and see how I get on. I’m expecting it to be tough at the start, but I’d like to think that as the year goes on, I’ll be able to start pushing for points finishes and fighting my way further up the field.”

    Shaun Hollamby, team principal, said:

     

    “We’re pleased to confirm Ollie and Sam as our drivers for 2018, and are confident that both can enjoy a successful year on track. “In Ollie’s case, he has taken huge strides forwards since he rejoined us back in 2016, particularly last year which was arguably his strongest season in the BTCC. Our hope for 2018 is to see him regularly challenge towards the top ten and push for the Jack Sears Trophy title

    “Sam faces a steep learning curve as a rookie driver, but he did a solid job when he tested the car in tricky conditions back in November. He is a youngster with a lot of potential, and there is no reason why he can’t look to challenge for points as the season goes on.

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