BTCC newcomer Andy Wilmot branded his debut weekend in the series at Rockingham as ‘simply amazing’, after enjoying a clean maiden outing with Team HARD at the Northamptonshire Speedway.
Taking over the Volkswagen Passat originally driven by podium finisher Tom Onslow-Cole, Team HARD Volkswagen Racing Cup regular Wilmot enjoyed his moment in the spotlight at Rockingham, surviving a learning weekend with little damage and ultimately a smile on his face from the initial experience.
In an interview with thecheckeredflag.co.uk, Wilmot described his BTCC debut by saying: “My first ever experience in the BTCC was simply amazing, it was the best experience of my life and it will be an unforgettable one at that.
“The dream has now become reality but I’m nursing the BTCC blues at the moment. I want to be back out there so much but money is always the key player in motorsport.”
“Goals achieved” on learning debut
In the very much learning weekend, Wilmot qualified 26th of the 27 runners in a drying Saturday qualifying in just his third session behind the wheel, before securing two 18th place finishes in the first and third races the following day.
Wilmot showed a clear head as he kept away from trouble, enjoying the battles with the midfield runners which he found himself in amongst as he adapted to the more powerful BTCC machinery for the first time at the technical Rockingham circuit, also achieving his own personal goals on Sunday afternoon.
“It was tough as the conditions were constantly changing from wet to greasy to dry so there was not a consistent track condition to learn the car”, Wilmot added.
“FP1 was really the first time I had ever been in the car so not being far of the pace at all was great considering the majority of the field have been racing and testing all season. So credit where credit is due, I’m proud of myself.
“The NGTC Passat is hugely different to any car I have ever driven. I’m used to short wheel base, front wheel drive cars, around 220bhp with a manual gearbox, but the Passat is 300bhp+ LHD, long wheelbase and a sequential gearbox. That’s a lot to take in with no testing pre-race weekend.
“I didn’t feel at all nervous all weekend, which was strange as I’m usually quite a worrier, but I think it’s as I didn’t have any pressure and nobody expected anything from me; my goals were to finish all three races, not get damage and not to be last in the races. I managed to achieve all goals.”
Entertaining the crowds
Wilmot played an entertaining part in the second encounter of the weekend, fighting it out with the S2000 Ford Focus of Liam Griffin in a fierce, but fair fight further down the field which Wilmot admitted he enjoyed.
He also kept the second Volkswagen Passat of Warren Scott honest throughout the weekend, as well as his own team-mate Howard Fuller, Wilmot just being pipped to the line by his Team HARD Vauxhall Insignia stable mate with a narrow half a second separating the pair.
“The battle I had with Liam Griffin in race two was great, it helped me build confidence with the car and learn to push it harder. We are in two different classes so there was no point being silly and making silly moves to get past as I didn’t want to ruin his chances of scoring points and I didn’t want to risk the chance of not finishing my race and reducing my seat time.
“We had a chat after Race 2 and agreed we both enjoyed the scrap. My race with Howard fuller for the last five laps of race one was eventful too. We were very close and not much separated us at the line.”
Hoping to stay in BTCC
Following the nostalgia of his maiden BTCC meeting, Wilmot now aims to stay in the series for the final two meetings of the 2013 season at Silverstone and Brands Hatch.
The Volkswagen racer is already hard at work in his quest to secure sponsorship to allow him do so, concluding: “My plan is to be out for the last 2 races but all depends on sponsorship.
“I am working on getting sponsorship on a daily basis. Hopefully something will come along soon to help me get out there.”