Andrew Jordan: "We're still lacking the ultimate pace"
It was another weekend of getting the most out of what we can, but it’s not enough. We’re just lacking the ultimate pace at the minute.
Across free practice we were in the mix, the car felt like we were certainly in the ball park – 5th in FP1 and 10th in FP2. Although the car felt good, we didn’t get the extra run on fresh tyres we’d usually get, thanks to the second qualifying for the Diamond Double race on Sunday.
The first qualifying session was the traditional BTCC style, with success ballast as per the championship standings. We qualified 11th in the first qualifying session, carrying 48kg, and set the fastest time for a BMW. While we were there or there abouts, we were lacking the ability to turn the pace up, and 11th is a little bit below where we want to be
The second qualifying session was run with no ballast, so it gave us a rare opportunity to see where we all stand in terms of outright pace. While we took sixth place – which was the best result for any of the rear-wheel-drive cars – we were still six tenths away from Jack Goff’s pole time, and we were quite a way off our front-wheel-drive rivals.
Race one was wet, and neither myself or Colin [Turkington, WSR BMW team-mate] could really get our cars to work well in the conditions. We were struggling to generate any tyre temperature, which is a vicious circle and means that you’re always on the back foot. The car was just too stiff for the conditions, and we ended up crossing the line 12th at the chequered flag. The battle between Jack Goff and Ash Sutton was an absolute cracker, but it certainly made us wonder what the Subaru boys are doing in terms of their wet weather setup that we weren’t…
The track had dried slightly for race two, but it was still damp through sector one for the entire race, which hampered our ability to move up through the field. We were incredibly quick through sectors two and three, which were bone dry, but we just lost everything we made up when we got back to the first two corners. We just couldn’t lean on the tyres in sector one and you could just see the time pouring away.
We ended race two in ninth, and although a ninth and a twelfth really isn’t what we want to be racing for, it felt like it was the best we could have hoped for from those first two races. The car just doesn’t have the ultimate pace to challenge the top guys at the moment.
Race three, the “Diamond Double” 60-miler started damp, and there were hints of drizzle in the early stages. We went with a very soft setup to counter the weather conditions, and the car actually felt much better when the rain began to fall at the start of the race. It was kind of a “damned if you do, damned if you don’t” situation as we knew the car would be far too soft if the track began to dry. I tried to keep pace with the top three at the start, but once the conditions began to clear up I could tell we didn’t have the pace to keep up and I decided to just manage the tyres and keep it on the road, taking fourth at the chequered flag – worth 26 points instead of the usual 13.
I did feel bad for the fans and everyone camping this year, and also for the organisers who had put on so much for the 60th anniversary, only to have an absolute deluge on them over the weekend, especially after the glorious weather we’d been having this summer.
I think the 60-mile double points race was a great idea, it gives something different for not only the fans but for the drivers, too. The championship has been in its current format for such a long time that it’s good to shake it up a bit. I wish they’d do a bit more like this, maybe once a year at different circuits. I’d like to see pitstops or even a full reversed grid after race two, or something similar. It whets the appetite for the fans and it keeps everything fresh.
The extra points from this year’s race certainly helped us close the gap to the top, we’re now joint fifth and 32 points away from the top of the standings. We’re there through consistency, not outright pace. I think I’ve driven cleverly throughout the year, but when you look at who’s currently around us – Team Dynamics, Jack Goff, Ash Sutton, Tom Ingram, they’re all very quick and if we want to mount a serious title charge from now, we really need to be challenging for the top six each week. We can’t just bank on one of them having bad luck, because we’re just as likely to suffer a same fate.
We need to look at getting quicker, and there are certainly areas we need to improve, but we also can’t overlook the fact that all rear-wheel-drive cars have been given an extra 30kg of weight this year after Ash won the title last season. Based on our data from across the year that’s worth about three tenths of a second – you take that away and we’re right back in the hunt, but it is what it is and we’ve got to work around it.
We go to Rockingham in two weeks and hopefully we can kickstart a strong run-in to the end of the season in Corby.