Rookie racer impresses on first outing with BTCC’s newest teamMarshall Amps-backed Chevrolet Cruze shows top ten pace on only second race weekendRace three contact robs team of first points finish
IP Tech Race Engineering showed top ten pace on only its second outing in the Dunlop MSA British Touring Car Championship at Knockhill, with an incident on-track in race three being the only thing that prevented the newest team on the grid scoring its first points finish.The Marshall Amplification-backed Team Club 44 Chevrolet Cruze went into the Scottish race meeting with a new man behind the wheel as youngster Mike Bushell moved up from the Renault Clio Cup to make his series debut following a successful test at Snetterton prior to the race weekend.Despite only limited running in the car, and the fact it was his first visit to the Fife circuit, Mike was immediately on the pace through free practice and qualifying, improving his pace each time he went on track and qualifying just seven tenths of a second away from pole in 17th place.Although forced to make a mid-race pitstop to have grass removed from the radiator after a brief off-track excursion, Mike took a solid 18th place finish in race one, posting the tenth best lap time in the process.Race two saw Mike improve on his finishing position as he brought the all-new Cruze home 17th despite a minor overheating issue, with his aim being to progress further into the points in race three.A solid opening lap saw Mike move up to 15th place and he lapped strongly to climb to 13th before contact from the Ford of Aron Smith on lap twelve saw him slide sideways at Butcher’s. Sadly for Mike and the team, Smith then clipped the front of the Chevrolet, which was enough to damage the steering and force Mike back into the pits to retire.With Mike’s focus now turning back to his Renault Clio Cup commitments, team owner Andy Neate will return to the wheel of the car for the eighth round of the year at Rockingham next month – the first of two home events for the Northamptonshire based team.
Mike Bushell – Driver: “The weekend seemed to have it all. I had a bad start, had a good start, went off myself and got taken off! Overall though, I got quicker throughout the weekend as I got more comfortable in the car and I have no doubt that we could have brought home a top ten finish in the final race had it not been for the incident with Aron. The car felt really strong and we were on the right tyres, having run the soft tyre earlier in the day while a lot of others were running it in race three.“The team has been great this weekend and has given me a great car. It was never going to be easy given that I’d not spent much time behind the wheel before the event and I’d not been to Knockhill before, but I think I’ve made my mark and shown what I can do.“Having had the chance to race in the BTCC this weekend, I know this is where I want to be in 2014. My focus now is on the final two rounds in the Clio and ending the year well, but I’ll be working hard to put a deal together to make sure this isn’t just a one off.”
Andy Neate – Team Owner:“It’s been another fantastic weekend for us as a team, although it’s a shame it ended as it did. Mike has done a really good job behind the wheel and has shown strong pace every time he’s been on track, he just lost out a little bit when it came to working the tyres in qualifying which meant he was in the pack on race day, and that can be where you find trouble.“Mechanically, the car has been faultless again and it is only because of another driver that we’re going away from the weekend having picked up our first DNF and having failed to score our first points finish.
"While it’s been good to give Mike the chance to race the car this weekend, I’m looking forward to getting back behind the wheel myself, and having seen how competitive we have been this weekend despite still running on base boost, I’m excited about what we can achieve when the levels are evened out a bit at Rockingham.”