David Pinkney secured his first triple points scoring weekend in the Dunlop MSA British Touring Car Championship during the season opening round at the super fast Thruxton track in Hampshire, the circuit where he famously lead the first few laps of the third race in 2007, at the wheel of his Alfa Romeo 156.
Driving the ex-works Vauxhall Vectra of Fabrizio Giovanardi, using the new NGTC turbo engine power plant, the opening sessions of the season saw the Harpenden based racer take to the track in his pink liveried Vectra.
It was Pinkney's first time of driving the Vectra in the wet weather conditions, as his pre-season testing programme had all been dry weather running.
Undeterred, Pinkney battled the weather and the rivers running across the Hampshire circuit to set the 13th fastest time of the 30 minute session, a result which backed up the times in the days two free practice sessions: session one saw Pinkney finish 13th fastest while session two produced a top 10 time.
Speaking after qualifying, Pinkney said: “We've not run the car in the wet before so had to take a bit of a guesstimate on set-up, so 13th on the grid was a good effort. Conditions on track in qualifying weren't easy and there were rivers running across the circuit in places. Mat Jackson and Phil Glew both suffered spins in front of me and it was difficult to get the maximum from the car. But we've had a solid day and the focus now is on three successful races on Sunday.”
Team manager Andrew Dean commented on qualifying: “We've had an eventful few weeks getting ready for the season and this is the first time that David has been able to drive the car in the wet.”
“We know there is more in the car and we didn't get the best out of it when the conditions were right on track, but we are confident that we'll be able to put a good set-up on for race day.”
The opening race of the weekend saw Pinkney climb up from 13th on the grid to finish in 8th, taking advantage of those around and ahead of him who suffered with punctures to record a solid top 10 finish.
The second and third races saw Pinkney secure two more top 10 finishes, with a tenth in race 2, just missing out on the grid switch for race three. The final race of the day saw Pinkney on for another solid top 8 finish before a small mistake at the 135mph Church corner saw him drop back to 10th.
With the hat trick of top 10 finishes during the opening race weekend, Pinkney is currently 11th in the standings with 5 points, and 8th in the Independents standings. Pinkney's team, Pinkney Motorsport are currently 8th in the teams Championship and fifth in the Independents teams Championship.
After the weekends three races, Pinkney reflected on his start to the season: “This is the first time I've picked up three top ten finishes on a weekend which is pleasing, but it could have been better if I hadn't run wide at Church in the final race, I got ahead of the two Fords and was closing on Andy Neate but just got onto the grass and lost speed, which cost me a few places.
“The chassis was brilliant this weekend but the extra weight we carry at the front of the car with the new engine affects the handling, so we haven't got the package right just yet. The team has been blinding this weekend, they've worked like clockwork and I'm proud of them all. We had a good weekend, we enjoyed it and now we are looking forward to Rockingham.”
Team Manager Dean was also impressed with the opening weekend performance of the team: “It's been a solid performance from the team throughout the weekend; we are still learning about the car and made changes during the weekend which allowed us to maintain our level of performance. We know there is still time to come to allow us to challenge for podium finishes, but that time will come.
“The Swindon Engine was reliable in its first race meeting and they were helpful with their support during the weekend. There is still some development work to do but we are looking forwards to Rockingham and the rest of the season with fresh optimism.”
Rockingham in Northamptonshire will host rounds 4, 5 and 6 of the 2010 BTCC on the 24/25 April.
Photo credit: Pete Mainey