The AmD Milltek Racing.com team endured a frustrating trip to Scotland for the latest rounds of the Dunlop MSA British Touring Car Championship after failing to secure a finish at Knockhill, despite showing encouraging pace throughout the weekend.The West Thurrock-based team made the long journey north looking to build on a promising outing at Snetterton last month, where new driver Martin Byford made a solid debut at the wheel of its turbo-powered Volkswagen Golf.Having qualified in 18th position, Colchester racer Martin moved up to 15th through the opening laps but was then caught in a sandwich between the SEAT of Dave Newsham and the Chevrolet of Alex MacDowall at the hairpin, which saw him sustain damage to his car and lose a number of places.Forced to pit as a result, Martin slipped to the tail of the field although the deployment of the Safety Car following a separate incident allowed him to stay on the lead lap. However, just two laps after the race resumed, suspension damage picked up in the incident at the hairpin saw Martin run off the road through the gravel at turn one, causing extensive damage to the front end of the car and leaving the team with work to do ahead of race two.With the car repaired in time to take the start, Martin lined up 20th on the grid but a series of impressive early laps saw him climb up as high as 15th before a braking problem saw him spin off into the tyre wall at the hairpin on lap ten.Forced to start from the back row of the grid for the final race, Martin was once again a man on the move when the lights went out and made up no fewer than eight places through the opening ten laps to once again run in 15th position – despite overtaking being far from easy on the tight and twisty Scottish circuit.However, his charge towards the top ten was then brought to a halt by a throttle issue that left him with no option other than to bring the Golf into the pits to retire, bringing a promising weekend to a tough end.“That’s Knockhill for you really,” he said. “As a racing driver, you know that weekends like this are going to happen from time to time and you just have to take them on the chin. I can’t fault anyone in the team as the guys did their best all weekend but luck just wasn’t on our side.“Race one was where it all started to go wrong for us really as the contact from MacDowall damaged the suspension and caused me to go off at turn one, which left the boys with a lot of work to do for the second race. We then suffered from a brake problem that pitched me into the tyres at the hairpin and then in race three, there was an issue with the throttle that meant I had to bring the car in. We need to look into those problems but this is a weekend where we just have to put what happened on track behind us and focus on the next round at Rockingham.”Team manager Shaun Hollamby admitted he was disappointed with the end results from the three races but said he was encouraged by the speed shown by Martin in his only his second BTCC meeting, with the team still taking a number of positives away from the weekend.“The incident with MacDowall meant we had to basically start again before race two but that’s touring car racing for you,” he said. “It’s never good to be on the end of it, especially when you are a small team without huge financial backing, but you’ve just got to come out and fight. There was an awful lot of damage to the car when it came back to the paddock and I was really proud of the effort the guys put in to make sure we were out on the grid for race two. I thought it was 50/50 as to whether we’d get the repairs done in time but they did a great job.“In the second race, Martin was driving really well and we were closer to the pace than we’ve ever been which was hugely promising before the retirement. Despite that, we were confident for race three but an issue with the throttle meant it was game over after he’d made another impressive start.“Although it isn’t nice to come away from the weekend with three DNFs, there are positives we can take away from it as we’ve shown good pace in the car and there are a number of little things that we tried out that have improved the Golf. Now we just have to work on a few more things at Rockingham and try and turn it into some points scoring finishes.”
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