Lawson Extends Championship Lead

North Yorkshire’s Robert Lawson recorded his sixth podium finish of the 2008 SEAT Cupra Championship season at the super-fast Thruxton Circuit in Hampshire, Sunday, 18th May, to increase his lead in the driver standings to a very healthy 21 points.The Bardon Aggregates and Bardon Concrete backed racer, who celebrated his 31st birthday the weekend prior to the event, did actually record a double rostrum finish to continue his amazingly consistent season. However, a time penalty was imposed following the second race of the weekend, dropping Robert from second to fourth in the final classification, after he was adjudged to have gained an unfair advantage when attempting to avoid an accident with JHR Developments team-mate Andrew Herron at the Club Chicane on lap eight.Although an unfortunate conclusion to the weekend, the Richmond based racer fully accepts the decision of the Clerk of the Course who had to take steps even though he understood Robert’s view he had to take avoiding action across the chicane to prevent a big accident with Herron and Martin Byford as they diced for position. “The Clerk of the Course decided to give me an eight second penalty in order to drop me back to fourth in the second race and I have to say, I don’t have a problem with that”, said the SEAT championship leader, “It’s a fair decision, I did gain time by cutting the chicane but I had to do it to avoid hitting my team-mate Andrew (Herron).“The SEAT officials could see how I was taking evasive action but they said they had no option but to impose the penalty and I fully agree with that. Taking a third and a fourth from the weekend isn’t too bad at all and, championship wise, we’re still looking very good as my main rivals didn’t gain on me this weekend.”The first race, round seven, saw Robert start from third place and although slipping behind Carl Breeze at the beginning he soon recovered the lost ground and passed the experienced SEAT campaigner on the run up Woodham Hill to the chicane at the end of the opening lap. Following a dice with Daniel Welch over second position, Robert had to settle for third in the end but was still very pleased to be on the podium. Round eight saw the JHR ace start on pole position – his fifth of the year –and taking into account his ability, and the performance of the 2008 spec SEAT Leon Cupra, his time of 1m 18.468 seconds (108.08mph) would have been good enough to place him 12th on the grid for the first of the weekend’s British Touring Car Championship races!Slipping to fourth early on, the North Yorkshireman remained there until lap eight when the aforementioned incident at the chicane took place. Opting to avoid what would have been undoubted contact with team-mate Herron, Robert cut across the chicane on the outside and emerged in second position where he remained to the chequered flag. Although losing what would have been his seventh podium from eight rounds after the race, Robert was relieved to have completed the distance without incident after identifying a major tyre problem at the conclusion. “I was very fortunate to finish the race as my front left tyre – the one which takes all of the stick around Thruxton – had a huge cut in it”, explained the Bardon-backed star, “On the inside edge of the tyre there was a huge gash about six inches long , right down to the wire. I wouldn’t have wanted to do one more lap on it that’s for sure!“Now I’m looking forward to my home race at Croft in two weeks where I’m hopeful we can have a couple of excellent results. It would be nice to win both races at my home track but two podiums would be great for the championship. One thing that is for sure is that I’ll be going all out to race as hard as I can and bag as many points as possible.”Rounds nine and 10 of the 2008 SEAT Cupra Championship take place just two weeks from now on 31st May/1st June at Robert’s home circuit, Croft near Darlington.Provisional 2008 SEAT Cupra Championship Driver Standings (after Rd8)1st Robert Lawson, 139pts; 2nd Martin Byford, 118pts; 3rd Carl Breeze, 105pts