Having never attended a British Touring Car Championships event, two of Motor Sport magazine’s very own motoring protégés headed to Thruxton to enjoy a day of fast cars and tight bends as Airwaves BMW Team showed Victoria Newell and Jennifer Carruth behind the scenes at the second round of the BTCC.
It’s a fairly daunting experience standing next to a touring car driver as he tightens his helmet, starts the deafeningly loud engine of his 2-litre, 200bhp, BMW 320si E90 Touring Car – just before the light turns green – but it’s a feeling of excitement that will never be forgotten.
Known to be the fastest circuit in the UK, Thruxton can pose a few problems for drivers and their teams, but throughout the day the Airwaves team carried on with a minty fresh air of optimism and excitement.
“It’s a particularly tricky circuit for BMW”, Airwaves’ younger driver Jonny Adam (above) informs us. “We generally don’t expect to do too well on it, unlike Brands Hatch where the car can really perform to the best of its ability.”
With this in mind, Airwaves’ local hero Rob Collard (below) still made up an outstanding 12 positions in his second race finishing a respectable fifth, and then fifth again in the third race, taking home two points for the team leaving him fourth in the driver standings with 42 points.
“If you’d asked me after qualifying yesterday (Saturday) if I would take two fifth place finishes here then I’d have taken that,” said Collard at the end of the day. “I started really well all day and the car was very good in races two and three. There were four or five really top drivers out there all battling for position in race three and I really enjoyed it, it was very good racing for us and the fans.”
And it certainly was a terrific day for the fans as the second round of the BTCC delivered the motor racing excitement known only too well for touring cars. Several collisions kept the fans on their feet and the appearance of the safety car added to the dynamics of each race.
Upon getting up close and personal with the team it was amazing to witness the professional approach with which Airwaves BMW team went about its preparation before each race. The pit was a hub of activity as the mechanics worked frantically on each car while touring car fans moseyed around with intrigue and fascination.
“Keep up, keep up” called out the Airwaves pit official as he hurriedly led us on to the starting grid while the cars took up their positions. The last minute checks were performed on each of the cars and the sound of raging engines filled our ears.
“When I say ‘go’ you’ll have to make a run for it to get off the grid.” With this instruction we were both pretty keen not let this man out of our sight, otherwise we’d be getting a lot closer to the circuit than we’d bargained for.
Suffice to say we made it in one piece and were alive to watch the race with the rest of the Airwaves team in the paddock.
But it was Fabrizio Giovanardi, Colin Turkington and Mat Jackson who took first place in the three races of the day. Meanwhile VX Racing’s Matt Neal still tops the leader board with 64 points, six points ahead of Turkington. VX Racing had a fantastic result in round four as they brought home a 1-2-3 – their first in five years.
On May 17 the BTCC battle for points continues at Donington Park.
By Jennifer Carruth and Victoria Newell