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Inverness Touring Car driver Dave Newsham looking to build on impressive debut season with BTC Norlin

By Jamie Durent

Dave Newsham wants to kick on in year two of the BTC Norlin project. Picture: Jay Adair.
Dave Newsham wants to kick on in year two of the BTC Norlin project. Picture: Jay Adair.

DAVE Newsham expects to be in the BTC Norlin hotseat again next season ashe plots a prolonged stay with the British Touring Car upstarts.

Stability is what Newsham has always craved in his BTCC career and it isnot 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 himfrustrated when progress was being made on his car.

However BTC appear happy to stick with Newsham and team-mate ChrisSmiley, as they deliver results for a team in its first season in theChampionship.

Both Newsham and Smiley finished in the top 10 in the final race atRockingham last weekend, with the Inverness racer also in the points inrace one.

It bodes well for the experienced driver, who is keen to see what theChevrolet Cruze can offer in year two of the BTC Norlin project.

“I don’t think they want to change anything – they certainly want meback for next year,” said Newsham. “Then it’s up to me to prove myselfto stay on again.

“It’ll be a first for me. I had a couple of rounds with Power Maxed lastyear but that was jumping in for someone. To finish a season and startthe next one in the same car is just what I want.”

Having that consistency can help the team build on a burgeoningreputation in BTCC.

Newsham has notched points-finishes in five of his last six races andrecorded 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 thathelps, rather than hinders.

Dave Newsham skirts off the track at Rockingham.. Picture: Jay Adair.
Dave Newsham skirts off the track at Rockingham.. Picture: Jay Adair.

“It keeps you on your toes,” said Newsham. “It makes you want to do yourbest for the guys. We have got a car squarely inside the top 10 now andif we can improve that a bit more over the last couple of rounds, aswell as some testing over the winter, we’ll be challenging for theindependents’ title next year.

“The owners have put an incredible amount of money into it. They don’texpect miracles in year one; this year is to lay the groundwork to bechallenging in year two and three.”

Newsham, who turned 50 in July, is certainly showing no signs of slowingdown. His best season remains his full debut campaign in 2012, where hesecured his only two race wins to date, along with four other podiumfinishes.

The elusive wait for another podium finish, he feels, is coming to anend. He came close at Donington, taking a reverse-grid pole and holdingoff the challenge of faster cars right until the final corner. His lastone came in 2014 at Knockhill, on an emotional weekend just after thepassing of his mother.

The Norscott Vending managing director is back on the track on September16 at Silverstone, where two of his four podiums in 2012 came.

“It’s one of my favourite tracks,” he said. “I’ve probably had betterresults there than anywhere else.

“We want to get out there on the podium before the end of the year andthis is the best opportunity to do it.”

Dave Newsham with BTC Norlin team-mate Chris Smiley. Picture: Jay Adair.
Dave Newsham with BTC Norlin team-mate Chris Smiley. Picture: Jay Adair.

This year’s championship has seen an unfamiliar face at the top of theleaderboard, with Ash Sutton, in only his second season in BTCC, aheadof two-time defending champion Gordon Shedden.

However, something Newsham has not been keen on is a perceived imbalancebetween the front and rear-wheel drive cars in the championship.

He feels the rear-wheel cars are still able to put in quick times evenwhen they have maximum ballast – weight added to the cars based on theirsuccess – which should not be the case. According to BTCC regulations,the top 10 finishers must carry extra weight for the next race, rangingfrom 75kg for the winner to nine kilos for the 10th-place finisher.

Newsham feels not addressing the disadvantage front-wheel drive carsfind themselves in could see the majority of teams switching torear-wheel drive vehicles in the future.

“It’s supposed to slow them down but they’re able to carry it verywell,” 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 willdefinitely help. That’s what they used to do; they used to carry anextra 30kg of weight and I don’t know why they stopped that.

“Something needs to be done about it otherwise everyone is going to wanta rear-wheel drive car.”

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