Inverness Touring Car driver Dave Newsham looking to build on impressive debut season with BTC Norlin
DAVE Newsham expects to be in the BTC Norlin hotseat again next season as he plots a prolonged stay with the British Touring Car upstarts.
Stability is what Newsham has always craved in his BTCC career and it is not until now, five years down the line, where he looks to be finding it.
His drives have tended to come to an end after one season, leaving him frustrated when progress was being made on his car.
However BTC appear happy to stick with Newsham and team-mate Chris Smiley, as they deliver results for a team in its first season in the Championship.
Both Newsham and Smiley finished in the top 10 in the final race at Rockingham last weekend, with the Inverness racer also in the points in race one.
It bodes well for the experienced driver, who is keen to see what the Chevrolet Cruze can offer in year two of the BTC Norlin project.
“I don’t think they want to change anything – they certainly want me back for next year,” said Newsham. “Then it’s up to me to prove myself to stay on again.
“It’ll be a first for me. I had a couple of rounds with Power Maxed last year but that was jumping in for someone. To finish a season and start the next one in the same car is just what I want.”
Having that consistency can help the team build on a burgeoning reputation in BTCC.
Newsham has notched points-finishes in five of his last six races and recorded their highest position of the season (fourth) at Donington. Smiley just recorded his career-best finish of ninth at Rockingham.
There is a pressure on the pair to achieve results but it is one that helps, rather than hinders.
“It keeps you on your toes,” said Newsham. “It makes you want to do your best for the guys. We have got a car squarely inside the top 10 now and if we can improve that a bit more over the last couple of rounds, as well as some testing over the winter, we’ll be challenging for the independents’ title next year.
“The owners have put an incredible amount of money into it. They don’t expect miracles in year one; this year is to lay the groundwork to be challenging in year two and three.”
Newsham, who turned 50 in July, is certainly showing no signs of slowing down. His best season remains his full debut campaign in 2012, where he secured his only two race wins to date, along with four other podium finishes.
The elusive wait for another podium finish, he feels, is coming to an end. He came close at Donington, taking a reverse-grid pole and holding off the challenge of faster cars right until the final corner. His last one came in 2014 at Knockhill, on an emotional weekend just after the passing of his mother.
The Norscott Vending managing director is back on the track on September 16 at Silverstone, where two of his four podiums in 2012 came.
“It’s one of my favourite tracks,” he said. “I’ve probably had better results there than anywhere else.
“We want to get out there on the podium before the end of the year and this is the best opportunity to do it.”
This year’s championship has seen an unfamiliar face at the top of the leaderboard, with Ash Sutton, in only his second season in BTCC, ahead of two-time defending champion Gordon Shedden.
However, something Newsham has not been keen on is a perceived imbalance between the front and rear-wheel drive cars in the championship.
He feels the rear-wheel cars are still able to put in quick times even when they have maximum ballast – weight added to the cars based on their success – which should not be the case. According to BTCC regulations, the top 10 finishers must carry extra weight for the next race, ranging from 75kg for the winner to nine kilos for the 10th-place finisher.
Newsham feels not addressing the disadvantage front-wheel drive cars find themselves in could see the majority of teams switching to rear-wheel drive vehicles in the future.
“It’s supposed to slow them down but they’re able to carry it very well,” he said.
“Looking at the amount of podiums and wins for rear-wheel drive cars, even in the last in three rounds, it’s obvious there’s an advantage.
“Hopefully they can do something towards addressing the imbalance. Imposing a higher minimum weight for rear-wheel drive cars will definitely help. That’s what they used to do; they used to carry an extra 30kg of weight and I don’t know why they stopped that.
“Something needs to be done about it otherwise everyone is going to want a rear-wheel drive car.”