Dave Newsham looks for qualifying improvement after starting BTCC campaign from back of the grid
QUALIFYING will carry greater significance for Dave Newsham after a troublesome start to his 2017 British Touring Car Championship campaign.
Landing in the gravel trap at Brands Hatch saw the Inverness racer start from the back of the grid, which left him playing catch-up throughout the day.
He still managed to claw his way into the points in the final race of the weekend, taking 14th in race three and securing BTC Norlin Racing itsfirst championship points. However that came after a retirement in race one and after starting from the back of the 32-car grid again, finishing race two in a respectable 17th spot.
The situation is nothing new to Newsham; he won the 2014 Jack Sears Trophy, awarded to the driver with the most overtakes during the season, so is used to fighting his way through traffic. However, a better qualifying session under his belt at Donington Park next weekend, coupled with his penchant for overtaking, could see a greater points haul make its way back to the newly-formed team.
“We showed that we have the pace to run at the front, we now need to start from near the front,” said Newsham. “With a grid of the most competitive driver-car combinations in BTCC history, I couldn’t have made things more difficult for myself.
“I did make a solid start and was getting into my stride (in race one) – by lap 11 I was up to P26 – however, there came a rumble from the rear of my car. I thought I had a puncture but I soon realised I was losing my rear wheel. I was trying to nurse the car back to the pits, however the wheel came off completely and I had to park the car at the side of the track.”
The final race could have been even better for the Norscott Vending managing director: he had gone from middle of the pack to 11th by lap five, before another incident threatened to derail his progress.
“I tried to pass Michael Epps into Paddock Hill however he closed the gap, then into the hairpin I got an almighty shunt into the rear of my car sending me completely sideways, cars going either side of me, some hitting me as they passed me,” he said. “I thought my race was over right there.
“I managed to straighten the car and keep going. The car was damaged, one of my rear wheels was knocked and the car was crabbing, making it very unstable under braking, however my lap times were OK.”
The qualifying quandary came down to opting for only one warm-up lap on the tyres, which proved insufficient as entering the first corner of his qualifying lap, the front tyres locked and Newsham could not slow down before hitting the tyre barrier.