Jack Clarke ended his rookie Dunlop MSA British Touring Car Championship season in spectacular fashion by visiting the podium at the final meeting at Brands Hatch GP in sodden conditions, a result he declared a ‘great feeling’.
Clarke’s fantastic result began when he was put onto pole position for the reverse-grid final encounter of the season, held in miserable wet conditions as a storm hit the Brands Hatch GP circuit late Sunday afternoon.
The Crabbie’s Racing Focus lost out to the fast-starting West Surrey Racing BMW 125i of Nick Foster as the lights went out, but swiftly fought back and grabbed the lead at Graham Hill Bend in fighting style on an early restart from a safety car interruption.
2012 BTCC champion Gordon Shedden was the man who denied the Ford driver victory as he carved through to the lead by passing Clarke exiting Westfield Bend in the opening half of the 15-lapper, although the second place finisher had previously held on bravely around the outside at Paddock Hill Bend on his way to second place – the first podium of his young BTCC career.
“It was a great feeling to bring the car to the front of the grid, and line up on pole for the final race of the season”, Clarke said afterwards following his maiden trip to a BTCC podium, actually turning out to be his first top-10 of the season also.
“I had to make the most of the position as the car was great, I felt confident and we just hit our marks every time.
“I think we were more consistent than the guys behind us. Gordon [Shedden] was on fire and we couldn’t catch him so second place is the best we could have come away with.”
The result Clarke says puts him and Crabbie’s Racing in good spirits also for 2015, with the 26-year-old intending to continue next season in the series.
“I am over the moon to end our rookie year with second. It’s just awesome! It is great to go into the off-season with this result as we look to gain further support for next year’s campaign. We saved the best ‘til last!”
Come the conclusion of a learning rookie season in touring cars after a career spent predominantly in single seater racing, Clarke heaped praise on his Motorbase squad for their support in his transition to becoming a BTCC podium finisher in 2014, ending the season a credible 19th in the championship.
Clarke admitted that the step from single seaters to touring cars was a stiff challenge to adapt to in 2014, but fully appreciated the rewards at the end of the season.
He added: “The season as a whole has been one big learning curve with a great result at the end. I didn’t appreciate the challenge to begin with but I took it step by step and worked at all the variables to improve as a driver.
“The team [Motorbase Performance] have been fantastic, as they helped me develop into a touring car driver this season. You couldn’t script the story for our season this year and for Crabbie’s Racing to have some silverware at the end of the year is the icing on the cake.”