Dan Welch qualified a career-best sixth at Round Six of the Dunlop MSA British Touring Car Championship at Snetterton – a race which four days ago he was not even entered for.

Despite the financial and mechanical problems which have plagued the team and the Proton since the start of the year, Welch was always confident in himself and the potential of the car – “it’s just the getting there,” he told theCheckeredFlag.co.uk earlier this week.

“On Tuesday we pulled out full stop,” he explained. “But we’re always going to keep trying. We turned up and the engine was running really well in qualifying.

“It’s gone all right, but a wheel bearing broke up and the car got progressively worse, so we could have done a little bit better.”

Having run strongly in practice, Welch was expecting big gains – as much as a second – to be found when the team bolted on fresh rubber for qualifying. However, the frustrating inability for the outfit to run new tyres in practice meant the pace was not forthcoming, though he says prospects are good for next season.

“We can’t do that [set the car up with new tyres in practice] at the moment”, he added. “When we go out for qualifying we just get on and do it.

“For next year it’s looking quite good, it’s just…tough. Very tough. We lost a lot from our major sponsor at the beginning of the season and we’ve been playing catch up since, but we’ve got some brilliants guys on board and we’ll fight as hard as we can.”

That fight begins tomorrow, where there are big points to be one – and possibly even a podium.

He said: ” Hopefully in race one we’ll stay out of trouble, people tend to try and be more sensible in race one. We’ll see what happens, we won’t plan for anything.

“As money’s tight I’ve been told to look after the car but if I find myself in fourth and there’s a podium to be had I’ll be going for it.”