MOTORSPORT: enjoyed another successful weekend of racing in the Dunlop MSA British Touring Car Championship with a brace of points finishes in challenging conditions at Donington Park.

The West Thurrock-based team went into the weekend seeking to build on a first top ten finish of the campaign in the season opener at Brands Hatch, with Inverness racer Dave Newsham seeking to end his own personal run of misfortune at the East Midlands circuit.

Dave had qualified 19th on the grid for the opening race of the weekend, with his best time being just 1.1secs away from pole position in another tightly-contested qualifying session; which saw no fewer than eleven drivers dip below the previous lap record.

On a wet circuit after rain arrived on race day, a strong opening lap saw Dave move up to 15th spot when the lights went out on race one, although his early charge would end on lap two when a spin heading down the Craner Curves saw him drop down to 24th.

From there however, the two-time BTCC race winner launched an impressive recovery drive as he fought his way back through the pack; lapping quicker than anyone else at times in the challenging conditions at the wheel of his Ford Focus.

Despite another brief off-track excursion while challenging Adam Morgan at the final corner, Dave’s forward charge continued and he crossed the line in twelfth place at the finish, which is where he would then line up for race two.

More rain before the start made conditions even more challenging as the lights went out, with Dave keeping his place through a dramatic opening lap before the Safety Car was deployed to allow marshals to remove the stricken VW of Alain Menu from the gravel.

Although he slipped back a position after the restart, Dave again got stronger as the race wore on and following a second Safety Car period, he took the chequered flag in an impressive ninth spot; again matching the pace of anyone else on track in the closing stages.

Starting from the same position for a dry race three, Dave made up one position on the opening lap into eighth despite contact from the VW of Aron Smith; which damaged the tracking on his car.

Following an early Safety Car, Dave then saw his chances of a top ten finish disappear when he lost the rear end of the car going through Redgate on the restart, and suffered a spin that dropped him to dead last in the field.

Despite his ill-handling car, Dave still produced some of the strongest laps of any of his rivals on track although he was unable to make it back into the points as he took the flag in 19th spot; making up two further positions thanks to post-race penalties elsewhere on the grid.

“Overall it’s been a good day, although it’s been a bit messy on track,” he said. “The pace in races one and two was really strong, although I did give myself an almighty scare going down the Craners in the first one! That was a big slide off but luckily I was able to come back from it and then in race two, we were strong once the tyres came to us as it took a little bit of time. Contact at the start in race three damaged the handling and I lost the back end on the restart and from that point on, it was a real handful, so I was surprised to see how strong our pace was at the finish. It’s a real shame as without that spin, there is no doubt we’d have been on for our best result of the year.

“As at Brands Hatch, there are plenty of positives for us to take away from the weekend. The team has worked really well again and we’ve shown that we have really strong pace in the wet conditions. What we really need to work on is getting more from the car in qualifying, as the strength of the field this season means that you can’t qualify down the order and then expect to come through in the races. If we can nail qualifying, then our race pace has shown we can match anyone this weekend.”

Team boss Shaun Hollamby was pleased to see the team add more points to its championship tally on a weekend where the potential of the Ford package was clear to see.

“It’s been a good day,” he said. “We’ve picked up two points finishes, shown strong pace in the wet and even with a damaged car in race three, we continued to show top six pace against what is a very strong field.

“From here it’s a case of onwards and upwards as we are learning more about the car every time we go out on track. There are a lot of positives for us again as the car has been reliable, the team had worked well and Dave has done a good job on track. As he said, we just need to work on getting more pace out of qualifying so that we are in a position to then benefit from the speed we have in the races.”