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Motorsport

  • BTCC - Jake Hill and Sam Osborne Impress at Season Launch

    MB Motorsport accelerated by Blue Square team made an impressive start to life in the Kwik Fit British Touring Car Championship yesterday (17 March) with a front-running performance on track during the Season Launch official pre-season test at Silverstone.

    Having tested at a number of circuits during the winter with its Honda Civic Type Rs, the Silverstone event provided the only opportunity for the team to go head-to-head against its on-track rivals in an official test, with a full day of running available across two sessions.

    The morning session saw drivers Jake Hill and Sam Osborne busy on track as they worked to gain valuable knowledge of Silverstone’s International layout, which is due to host the penultimate meeting of the season later in the year.

    Hill would end the morning with the fastest time of the 29-car field, becoming the first driver to set a lap at an average speed in excess of 100mph, and ending up three-tenths of a second clear of the works BMW of Andrew Jordan. Osborne, meanwhile, lapped quickly and consistently in the sister Honda to end the morning’s running sitting in 20th place.

    Times would drop during the afternoon, with Hill once again running right at the sharp end of the grid as he quickly slotted his Honda into second place on the times behind the Toyota of Tom Ingram.

    The 26-year-old looked well set to complete a sweep of both sessions late in the day but a combination of traffic and a late red flag meant he had to settle for second on the combined times; his best lap being just 0.051s away from the fastest seen on track.

    Osborne’s continued improvement was reflected by the fact that his fastest lap in the afternoon would be six-tenths of a second quicker than he had managed during the morning and meant he ended the day little over a second off the pace – and ahead of a number of former race winners.

    The official BTCC website caught up with Hill following the completion of testing yesterday.

    “Today was really good,” said the Kent-born driver. “We had a really strong result this morning; we tried lots of things in the car, running through lots of different scenarios, and we definitely found one that worked.

    “The afternoon was more of the same, we ended up second just behind Tom [Ingram], so the feeling is really good. It was the first time the whole team has been together so it was nice to get everyone doing their job roles and working as a team.

    “I’ve done the circuit in road cars but this is the first time in a touring car around here and it was good. I really like the little circuit it’s nice. It gives something different compared to the national circuit. It’s a mega little circuit, I love it and the car is definitely dialled in.

    “Straight away I settled in and felt very comfortable in the Honda, it’s definitely as good as people say it is and it’s nice to be getting behind the wheel of one for once rather than watching them disappear into the distance. It’s definitely made me feel very confident about the year, hopefully we can get this championship underway and we can get fighting for wins.”

  • Strong BTCC Media Day test for Motorbase Performance

    All three Motorbase Performance British Touring Car Championship drivers were riding high after the first official test session of the season at Silverstone this week, with Rory Butcher setting a lap time good enough to put him in the top four.

    The team has introduced the fourth-generation Ford Focus for 2020 and has spent long man-hours in the workshop getting the new weapon ready for the track.

    Cobra Sport have been working closely with Motorbase over the winter to provide the complete performance exhaust setup for the new 2020 Mk4 Ford Focus ST British Touring Car. The new complete stainless steel exhaust system (including manifold) has been manufactured in Sheffield with performance top of the agenda and is designed to give the new car a competitive edge in the 2020 BTCC season.

    After some initial running at Brands Hatch last week, Butcher and his team-mates Ollie Jackson and Andy Neate took to the track in the BTCC’s official curtain-raiser on Tuesday. Butcher said that his 1m06.612s lap, which was set during second part of the four-hour test, had him licking his lips in preparation for the 2020 campaign.

    The BTCC organisers have taken steps to postpone the opening three meetings of the season as a result of the coronavirus and the first scheduled round will now be at Thruxton in Hampshire in the middle of May. The season had been due to begin at Donington Park on March 28-29.

    Butcher, the reigning BTCC Independents Trophy holder, said: “It is very hard to know what the other teams and drivers where up to: I suspect many of them were using the softer tyres and running without ballast to grab the headlines, but I know our pace was genuine, which fills me with optimism.

    “We have already got a fairly good base set-up and we are now at the point where we can chip away at refining it. We haven’t hit the bullseye yet and we are already fast, so I am pleased about that. All the changes we made were positive.

    “With the delay to the start of the season, it will give us more time to get out there and refine what we have underneath us, but we are started from a very strong point.”

    Team-mate Jackson was another who was revelling in the handling of the hatchback. He completed more than 110 laps over the four-hour test and ended the running in 13th position with a lap of 1m07.066s. He said that his programme was centred more on learning about the new car.

    “We are starting from a completely different place than with the older-spec Focus,” he said. “And we are already in a very good position. We were making changes to the set-up across the day, and I was finding chunks of lap time with each one. We were gaining tenths of a second, which is really encouraging and shows that there is even more to come yet.

    “What is a real testament to the team is that the Focus has run faultlessly, which has enabled me to concentrate on finding the maximum from it and we are gaining ground whenever we take to the track. I am certainly very optimistic about what is to come.”

    Andy Neate, who is returning to the category for the first time since 2016, racked up mileage in the team’s older-spec Ford Focus as his new version was being prepared and said he was delighted to be back in the cut-and-thrust of the BTCC paddocks. Although his running was hindered by a vibration on the car, he nevertheless recorded 80 laps around the 1.85-mile track.

    Neate said: “While it was frustrating that we were chasing a problem throughout the day, any seat time is useful and it allowed me to blow away a few cobwebs and get back into the swing of things.

    “We made some improvements to the vibration and I was all set for a quick run at the end of the day, but session was cut short and that thwarted us. With the delay to the start of the season, I think my new car will be ready in time for the season now when it does start, and it has already shown huge potential. I am excited about the year ahead.”

    Team boss David Bartrum said that the delayed lead-in to the 2020 British Touring Car Championship would give the Kent-based operation time to make further tweaks to its new car and be ready to hit the ground running when the campaign does eventually get going.

    “It is an odd feeling: I am a very happy team boss because of the way the new car performed and it really justified our decision to build it but there is a sad part in that the global situation is causing real headaches for people,” said Bartrum. “We have a number of suppliers, contractors and freelancers who work with us and we know these are very challenging times ahead for them. They are very much in our thoughts.

    “The delay to the start of the season will give us more time to refine the cars with further testing planned, and that will be vital for us. It is a credit to the boys in the workshop that the new cars have managed to hit the track without any problems and even the shakedowns we planned turned into full test sessions straight away because the cars were faultless.

    “We are already at the point where we are nailing down refinements to the set-up. With more running, we will only get stronger.”

  • Sam Osborne completes 2020 Cobra Sport AmD Racing BTCC line-up

    The Cobra Sport AmD Racing team can today confirm the signing of Sam Osborne for the 2020 Kwik Fit British Touring Car Championship season.

    The 26-year-old from Worksop will be embarking on his second season in Britain’s premier racing series with the West Thurrock-based outfit, and will be at the wheel of one of the team’s two race-winning Honda Civic Type Rs.

    Having previously raced in the MINI Challenge and the Renault Clio Cup UK, Sam made his touring car debut in 2019 after securing a late deal to join Excelr8 Motorsport at the wheel of an MG6 GT.

    Racing one of the two cars that has been campaigned by the Cobra Sport AmD Racing team a year earlier, Sam secured a best finish of 14th during the season after an impressive drive at Snetterton, where he picked up his maiden points finish in the series.

    It meant Sam ended the year just outside the top 20 in the Independents’ championship, whilst he was also well placed in the Forever Forward standings having made up more than 90 spots from his starting positions over the course of the 30 race campaign.

    Having worked hard to gain as much knowledge as possible from his debut season, Sam now heads into 2020 looking to make the most of the expertise of the team - and the undoubted potential of the Honda - to make strides forwards up the grid.

    Running alongside race-winner Jake Hill, Sam will hope to regularly challenge for points finishes, with his overall goal being to challenge for honours in the Jack Sears Trophy - which is open to drivers who have yet to finish on the podium in the series. Sam will make his debut in the Honda when the 2020 season gets underway at his home circuit of Donington Park in late March.

    Cobra Sport AmD Racing's new-look livery and sponsor line-up for the new campaign will be revealed in due course.

    Sam Osborne said:
    "I’m ecstatic about this deal and can’t wait for the new season to get underway. To be honest, it hasn’t really sunk in yet, but this is fantastic opportunity for me and one that I want to try and grab with both hands.

    "From the moment I first spoke to Shaun, I knew that this was the right deal for me and I’m hoping that this can be the start of something long term with the team. There is little doubt that my rookie season had its challenges, but I’m hopeful that the Honda is a car that will be better suited to my driving style and that I can work with the team and with Jake to learn as much as possible and make progress up the order.

    "To regularly challenge for points finishes is the first objective and if I could then make a bid for the Jack Sears Trophy then it would be fantastic."

    Shaun Hollamby, team principal, said:
    "Sam is a driver who did a solid job during the 2019 season when you consider that he went into his first year in the series with very little testing and with a team that was new to the BTCC. It’s a big step up from the Clio Cup, and he showed himself to be more than capable of racing at this level.

    "With a year of experience behind him, Sam’s goal now has to be to make the step forwards to challenge for points on a regular basis and we certainly feel that that is something that he can do during the year ahead. The Jack Sears Trophy is a realistic goal, and it would be great if he could help us challenge for the title for a third time.

    "Sam and Jake have known each other for a number of years and our hope is that they can work together to challenge for some strong results in 2020."

  • AET Motorsport Clinch the 2019 Time Attack Championship

    Cobra Sport tuning partner and distributor AET Motorsport have secured the Time Attack Championship in explosive style at the East Anglian Snetterton circuit in a final round decider.

    Fielding a MK7 Ford Fiesta ST with the superb EcoBoost engine and a full tuning suite of performance hardware and in house software, the Yorkshire firm certainly proved the worth of their VUDU products and Cobra Sport Exhausts, clinching the title in the first year of attempting.

    The Time Attack Championship has been the staple diet for Tuning companies worldwide to prove their platform for a number of years. With relaxed regulations allowing the development of cars to showcase companies’ products and services.

    AET Motorsport have a rich history in motorsport dating back to the early era of turbocharged Formula 1. This craft has now been applied to the UK’s thriving tuning market offering a wide range of performance hardware products from leading manufacturers and in-house remapping utilising a purpose-built controlled dyno cell.

    All three of the AET Motorsport Time Attack cars which have competed this season have been to Cobra Sport Exhausts in Sheffield for fitment of both direct fit and bespoke performance exhaust setups, giving the team a competitive edge.

    Company sales director, Nick Cook and sponsored driver, Ben Copson had the following to say.

    “Time Attack has been a tremendous achievement for the whole team at AET Motorsport and the championship organisers have made an outstanding platform to showcase our skill set. The support for the team over the championship period shows our audience shares a keen interest in what we have achieved. Finally, I would like to thank our loyal suppliers and sponsors this would not be possible without them.”

     

    AET Motorsport - Fiesta ST - Cobra ExhaustsBen Copston - AET - Cobra Exhaust

  • Lomax Secures British Rallycross Championship at Season Finale

    Craig Lomax and his Cobra Sport sponsored XtremeRX team headed to their home event at Croft for the British rallycross Championship season finale knowing that to secure his second Super 1600 title he would have to be consistent and push as hard as possible.

    The Saturday of the double header started in dreadful conditions, which played to the Cobra backed drivers strengths as the treacherous track conditions allowed him to take advantage of his lighter and nimbler Super 1600 Citroen.

    He put in strong qualifying races and secured fourth place on the grid for the final just behind the pole sitter. He managed to hold off tough challenges to take the flag in third position and in doing so securing the Super 1600 championship by a margin of over 10 points in the process.

    The second day couldn’t have been more different as the torrential weather was replaced by bright and dry conditions. For the second successive day Lomax put in another consistent performance against some of the higher powered Supernational cars and lined up for the final in forth place, a position he would retain for the whole race. This strong finish meant that he also managed to secure third place in the Supernational class which includes many higher powered vehicles.

    Craig Lomax, #24:

    "What an incredible way to round out a challenging season! A first in the Super 1600 was our goal for this year, but to nab third spot in the supernational class at the same time is a real bonus.

    "I cannot express my thanks to all my sponsors for supporting us all year. I especially can't thank the team enough, without them the car wouldn’t have made it to the grid half the time. I think I owe them all a beer or two!"

  • Triple BTCC title success for Cobra Sport AmD Racing!

    The Cobra Sport AmD with AutoAid/RCIB Insurance Racing team enjoyed a stunning end to the Kwik Fit British Touring Car Championship season as it successfully wrapped up no fewer than three titles during the final rounds of the year.

    The team went into the weekend chasing both Independent class titles and also in the lead of the Jack Sears Trophy, with drivers Rory Butcher and Mike Bushell keen to make most of the pace of the FK2 Honda Civic Type R around the full Brands Hatch Grand Prix circuit.

    Fife racer Rory qualified in a solid fifth place in tricky conditions in qualifying as the best placed front wheel drive car in the session, and a strong start to the opening race saw him move up into third spot by the end of lap two ahead of title hopeful Andrew Jordan.

    After an early safety car period, and with rain starting to fall, Rory fought his way ahead of Ash Sutton and Colin Turkington to hit the front and would lead until the 16th lap when a charging Dan Cammish found a way through.

    Running in a comfortable second, Rory only missed out on a podium on the final lap when Matt Neal and Tom Chilton managed to get ahead, having gambled on a switch to wet tyres behind the safety car.

    With Josh Cook retiring from the race, second amongst the Independent class racers saw Rory close right in on his rival in the race for the title.

    A tough opening lap in race two saw Rory forced to take avoiding action when two cars clashed ahead, which dropped him down the order to run outside the top ten. However, he fought back well to take the flag in ninth spot, bringing the gap to Cook down to a single point going into race three.

    It was a result that also wrapped up the Jack Sears Trophy title after his only rival Tom Oliphant retired.

    Aware that the final race of the weekend was a case of ‘winner takes all’ in terms of the Independent title, Rory found himself running in fourth at the end of the opening lap and then battled up into the podium places with Cook on his tail.

    Knowing that he had to keep the newer FK8 Civic at bay, Rory produced one of his best drives of the season to secure the position and wrap up his second title of the weekend.

    On his third outing in the car, Mike put the sister Honda ninth on the grid for the opening race with a solid performance in qualifying, although he would slip back to eleventh in the opening laps.

    The former Clio Cup UK champion then started to make his way forwards however, and had climbed into the top ten before the safety car period to allow the similar Honda of Matt Simpson to be recovered from the gravel at Paddock Hill.

    Continuing to make good progress, Mike climbed up to fourth going into the final lap although, like Rory, he would lose out to Neal and Chilton on the final lap to end up in P6.

    A strong start to race two saw Mike jump up into fifth spot on the opening lap, but his hopes of trying to push towards the podium were ended by a drive through penalty for being slightly out of position at the start.

    Dropping to the back of the field, he raced well to come through to 18th at the finish, and then came close to a points finish in race three with 16th in the season finale.

    The combined efforts of the two drivers ensured that Cobra Sport AmD with AutoAid RCIB Insurance Racing successfully wrapped up the Independent Teams’ Championship.

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

    “We had three trophies we were aiming for at the start of the season and to have won them all is absolutely fantastic. I’m delighted for the whole team because we have worked so hard and it has a been a massive team effort.

    “We made some big improvements over the winter and the support of Cobra, AutoAid, RCIB and GardX has been key as their investment in us allowed us to strengthen and move forwards. We were able to get the right calibre of driver in as success like this doesn’t happen if you don’t have the right drivers. Huge thanks have to go to Rory, Sam [Tordoff] and Mike for their efforts.

    “Rory was fantastic all year and the final race was his best of the season to hold off Josh like he did. Mike also did well again stepping in for Sam, who played a massive part in what we have achieved this year and who I know is happy at our success.

    “Now it’s time for a few beers!”

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

    “I think being the chaser for the Independent title was the best thing for me coming into the weekend, as every race I just pushed hard to get as much as I could from it. I knew in race three that Josh would drive his socks off in the early laps to get to me and I had to drive at 100 per cent from the start. That was the hardest I’ve driven the car all year – it was to the maximum.

    “To come away from the weekend with the Independent title and the Jack Sears Trophy for me personally, and to finish in the top five overall, is absolutely fantastic and I think it will take some time to sink in. It’s hard to believe what we have achieved.

    “For the team to also win the Independent Teams’ title and finish third overall is brilliant, and you can see in the eyes of the guys in the team just how much it means to them. I’m so pleased to be part of this team and to have had this opportunity, and I’m also happy for all of my sponsors and for the team sponsors who have made it possible.”

    Mike Bushell, #21 Cobra Sport AmD with AutoAid/RCIB Insurance Racing Honda Civic Type R, said

    “I put in so much effort alongside Rory this season and I’m not ashamed to say I cried when he was getting his trophies. For us to have led the overall championship at one stage, and to win the Independent title has been a phenomenal effort.

    “Personally, I’m a bit annoyed with myself for being an inch over the line ahead of race two as I was comfortable in fifth place before the drive through penalty, and that really ended the weekend for me as race three was a case of just bringing the car home in one piece.

    “I’ve enjoyed doing these final three rounds and it was nice to hear David Addison comment on TV that it was a case of what might have been if I’d been in the car for a full season. It shows that people have taken notice of how I’ve performed, and it’s been nice to have a chance to get out on track in a top level car and race with the big names towards the front.”

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