And we’re off… the 2019 campaign is officially underway! Words Si McNally. Photos Peter Aldridge and Jakob Ebrey.
BTCC UPDATE GO GO GO!
It’s been an interesting start to the year so far. At the time of writing, the PMR boys (and girls) have just returned from the second round at Donington Park, bringing some silverware home with them, and pulling in a decent points haul across Race Day itself.
This follows what can only be described as a pretty awful weekend at the opening round at Brands Hatch. It all started so well, with BTCC ace and TV-personality Jason Plato qualifying second, putting in a blistering qualifying lap towards the end of the session. The first race of the day started well, but almost immediately took a turn for the worse, as Jason immediately received a “drivethrough” penalty, meaning he had to drive through the pits, observing the pitlane speed limit of 30mph, putting him right at the back of the race at the start of the second lap. This set the tone for the whole day, with a number of frustrating incidents hampering the boys from climbing up the field. At the end of the day, the best result was P13, with Rob Collard not evening managing to finish the last race after contact with an out-of-control Passat caused serious suspension damage. This meant the team were heading into Donington towards the lower end of the table; somewhere they’re just not used to being.
Confidence was high though, with both drivers having tested at the circuit a few weeks before, posting some seriously quick times throughout the day.
Saturday’s first Free Practice session could be summed up in one word - wet! Both drivers used the opportunity to hone the setups of the car in the damp conditions, with Jason being the quickest front-wheel-drive car and 4th quickest across the two practice sessions, and Rob still fine-tuning his Astra at the close.
Qualifying was, without a doubt, one of the most frustrating sessions the team have yet faced. With not one but two red flags bringing the session to a halt just as the tyres were coming up to a usable level. Both Jason and Rob found it impossible to better.
Thankfully, the weather on Sunday was vastly improved. Race 1 saw the guys score some much-needed points, despite Collard having an altercation with the BMW of Andrew Jordan, which damaged his exhaust quite severely. This meant he crossed the line in P10, with teammate Plato in P7.
Race 2 saw both drivers make up ground, with Collard coming home in P7 and Plato just ahead in P6. After the now infamous Reverse Grid Draw, which went in the team’s favour, Collard would start in P4 and Plato in P5, giving them the perfect opportunity for the first podium of the year.
Collard made the most of this, bringing the PMR-built Astra home second, taking fastest lap of the race, with Plato crossing the line in P7, due to running the slower and less agile Hard compound tyre for the final race of the day.
The team are now busy preparing the cars for their attack on Hampshire’s fearsome Thruxton circuit, the fastest racetrack in the UK.
Now now, there’s no need for that! (Yeah, a waste! - Midge) Spoiler.
Spoiler Alert! Rob came in at… only joking (you’ll have to read on).
“Well, as you know, I’m a quiet, reserved kind of guy, but...”