BTCC: Rd.6, Silverstone (26/27 September)
Free practice had shown the potential of the team’s Audi S3 after a storming lap from Jiggy saw him put the #180 car into ninth spot – ahead of defending champion Colin Turkington – in the second session, leaving the team confident going into qualifying. Unfortunately, the session would prove to be frustrating as James would fail to set a time after being hit by the Mercedes of Jack Butel on the Wellington Straight just minutes after the green flag had flown. That meant a busy evening for the team to repair extensive damage to the front right of the Audi, and left James to start the opening race from the back of the field.
With the James’ car having been fully repaired ahead of race day, he took his place at the back of the field and a strong opening lap saw him jump up immediately into 22nd place. Having overtaken his team mate on lap two, Jiggy was dicing for position with Michael Crees before contact between the pair going into Becketts saw him slip back down the order to 25th. He would manage to make up three places after the restart to cross the line in 22nd.
The second race of the weekend saw James moving towards the points after a strong start saw him climb up to 17th by the end of the lap two, but he was then swallowed up by the cars behind when he was forced to back off after Tom Oliphant’s BMW had a moment ahead on lap six. That dropped him down to 20th, but he would recover to 16th by the finish despite struggling for front end grip, missing out on the points by just three tenths of a second.
The final race would be a chaotic affair that was red-flagged after five laps following a huge incident for the Ford of Rory Butcher on the run to Becketts, which saw his car roll after contact with the barriers before coming to rest on the circuit in front of the field. James were able to take evasive action to avoid the stricken car. The action resumed as a 12 lap sprint. Unfortunately for James, his weekend would end in disappointing fashion when an engine issue forced him to retire the sister car on the fourth lap, preventing him from fighting for points.
The team now heads for Croft in North Yorkshire for the seventh meeting of the season in two weeks time.
James Gornall, #180 GKR TradePriceCars.com Audi S3, said:
“We were running old tyres in FP2 so when I saw we were right up there, it left me feeling confident for qualifying as we had a chance to be right in the mix. Looking at how the session panned out, we certainly could have been in the top ten but instead, a ridiculous incident that shouldn’t have happened put us on the back foot. I wasn’t able to make the progress I was hoping for in race one as I got a hit from Crees when I was making a move on him, and that cost me time and also ruined the tyres. In race two, I nearly got into the points but I was struggling with the front end after the opening few laps and didn’t quite have the performance. In race three, I was coming through Luffield and the engine dropped onto three cylinders so I just brought it straight in and had to retire. It’s frustrating because this is a weekend where we could have picked up some solid results and instead, we’ve come away empty-handed.”
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Next BTCC meeting:
Croft, 10/11 October