Article date: 14 August 2006
- Round 7 - Snetterton - race report
Team RAC's Colin Turkington still remains in contention foroverall honours and 27-points behind championship leader Matt Nealdespite a non-finish in one of today's BTCC races. Having sufferedan engine failure Colin came back all guns blazing with a podiumfinish and fastest lap in the second race of the day.
Rob Collard was on for a podium finish in the final race of theday before being caught in the thick of the action and forced intoretirement through no fault of his own. It was a disappointing endto the day after a great performance in race two which promisedbetter things.
Colin's championship title biddidn't get off to the best of starts when his Team RAC car sufferedan engine failure in the closing stages of the race. Colin said: "Iwas running pretty consistently and was on for a 6th place finishbut the engine just gave up on me. It's bitterly disappointing as Iwas ahead of Matt and would've taken more points."
Colin was forced to retire to the pits on lap 15 of the 18-laprace.
The team opted for a wet-weather set up on the second Team RACcar of Rob Collard and tyres suffered as a result during the secondhalf of the race as a dry line appeared. Rob finished in 11th placehaving being pipped on the line. Rob said: "We made a decision fora wet weather set-up and tyre choice as the weather conditions havebeen so changeable this morning. The opening laps were great and Imanaged to make up a few places running in eighth at one point. Butas the track dried out the others began to catch me and I justcouldn't do anything in response. The car feels good and with theright set-up I'm sure things will improve."
Jason Plato and James Thompson made it a SEAT one-two withFabrizio Giovanardi completing the top three.
With an engine change completed inunder an hour, it was a great achievement from the Team RACmechanics. From a 15th place starting position Colin drove anoutstanding race and set the fastest lap of the race on the way toclaiming a third place finish. Running comfortably in fourth on thefinal lap, the last place on the podium was gifted to him as aresult of contact between arch-rivals Matt Neal and Jason Plato. Onclosing the gap to just 17 points, Colin said: "I'm absolutelydelighted, for me and the team as the engine change was a big job.I'm not sure what happened ahead of me on the last lap but if I canfinish ahead of Matt, then it keeps a smile on my face."
Rob's performance matched that of his team-mate and startingform 11th on the grid finished an impressive fifth. Afterstruggling in the first race of the day, Rob was pleased to getback amongst the front-runners. He said: "I'm pleased with myfinishing position and with the speed we've got in the car butthere were a few hairy moments where I had to just sit back and notget involved. I was also conscious of Colin's position and we gotthe right result for Team RAC. The car is back in one piece andI've got a good solid result."
Jason Plato and James Thompson repeated their second one-two ofthe day for SEAT.
The compulsory 'luck of the draw'to decide grid positions for the final race of the day did not sendany luck of the Irish Colin's way. Number nine was drawn by racewinner Jason Plato, resulting in a Team Halfords front row line-upfor Matt Neal and Gareth Howell.
Colin drove a good race and gradually made up places to finishin fourth, keeping the pressure on for the championship title. Onjust missing out on a second podium of the day Colin said: "Thatwas a pretty quiet race for me but the good thing is I collectedsome more points. The day could have been a lot worse for me afterlosing an engine in race one. I may not have closed the points onMatt over the weekend but I got a podium and a fastest lap in racetwo and points in race three, so its still game on as far as I'mconcerned."
Starting from fifth on the grid, Rob got a great start and bythe end of the first lap was running strongly in third place.However, on lap three, Team Halfords Gordan Shedden took a disliketo the Team RAC car making heavy contact and putting Rob out ofcontention. With extensive damage being suffered to the frontsteering, not to mention smashed glassed in the driver's door, Robhad no option but to retire from the race. On the incident Robsaid: "I got a great start and made it into P3 and was hunting downthe cars in front. At the same time I was having to defend quitehard from Shedden. As we were heading into Sear, Shedden got a bitof a run on me and then absolutely side swiped me. These standardsare just completely unacceptable and it reminds me more of my stockcar days. I've received some harsh criticism myself but this isserious impact and in my opinion dangerous driving."
Summarising on Team RAC's performance, team principal DickBennetts added: "It could have been better and it could have beenworse. Colin retired in race one through no fault of his own butcame back with a storming job in race two. Rob also did a great jobin race two but unfortunately got attacked in the final race of theday. We didn't start the weekend on the right foot with the set-upchoice, so we were playing catch up. We started the weekend withColin 22 points behind and we leave Snetterton 27 points behind butstill in contention."
Simon Machell, chief executive, Norwich Union Insurance, said:"It was yet another entertaining day at the touring carsparticularly for our RAC and Norwich Union staff who turned out inforce to support Team RAC. Team spirits are still high despite someunfortunate incidents beyond our control on track and we'recertainly looking forward to Knockhill."
The next BTCC action takes place north of the border atKnockhill, Scotland on 2/3 September.
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To arrange an interview with a member of Team RAC, pleasecontact Sarah Owen on 07793 633153.
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