2014 Jack Sears Trophy winner Dave Newsham‘s career has been all about British Touring Cars in recent years, from his debut in 2011 with Geoff Steel Racing, taking Team ES Racing to two wins in the aging Vauxhall Vectra before a year with Speedworks and arriving at AmD Tuning this year.
During his time with AmD, Newsham was presented with the opportunity to drive in the British Rallycross Grand Prix with Xtreme Motorsport.
“I was offered the drive early this year by Xtreme Motorsport” said Newsham. “Shaun Hollamby did the event with the team last year, they asked if he would like to do it again, and Shaun suggested they ask me.I have been a fan of Rallycross since I was a youngster watching it on Grandstand, so I jumped at it.”
Newsham wouldn’t have the luxury of testing prior to the race weekend, completing a total of 3 laps in practice he was thrown straight in at the deep end in the stock Citroen Saxo, a much different car to what he is used to driving.
“The stock hatch formula is basically a stock road going Saxo with very limited alterations and less than half the horsepower than a BTCC car. The racing was a little robust, shall we say, and a couple of drivers didn’t take well to the BTCC driver passing them.
“I was also surprised just how much effort you have to put in, you are literally fighting the car the whole time with no time to rest. After four laps I was knackered!”
The car Newsham was driving for the weekend had secured the stock hatch championship in the hands of Craig Lomax, unfortunately for the BTCC fan favorite there were issues through the weekend with the transmission.
“I had issues with the stock gearbox which seemed to have more neutrals than gears, otherwise the car was great fun to drive” added Newsham.
Talking about his experience Newsham admitted that he went in to the weekend knowing very little of what he was about to experience.
“When I turned up at Croft, I didn’t even know how the GP program went. I presumed I would be racing in a Stock Hatch formula. However when I was told the GP was an open class event and I would be racing alongside the 600bhp Supercars, I was concerned. With a stock 120bhp Saxo, I presumed I would be tootling around at the back.”
Despite his initial concerns it was soon clear that the little Saxo would stand up to the competition in a David and Goliath style battle.
“I was amazed at just how competitive we were against cars with huge horsepower. We would lose a massive amount off the start and the run to the first corner, after that we were competitive, especially through the corners.”
Newsham put up a brave fight throughout the weekend but couldn’t quite make it in to the GP Final.
“With over 40 cars, we made it to the B final, and I was just one place off qualifying into the GP Final in third place when struggling again to find a gear, and maybe being a little heavy handed the gear knob came off in my hand just as I was turning into Clervaux, the next thing I know I’m in the gravel trap, race over! Disappointing but comical at the same time!”
With his initial rallycross experience out of the way we asked Newsham if he would be open to taking part in rallycross in the future.
“The team have already invited me back for next year’s GP, and I have told them I would love to do it again. They have a quicker car too, in the shape of a Super 1600 Citroen C1, so with a little experience of Rallycross now under my belt, who knows, we may end up in the GP final next time.”