Following on from his best Dunlop MSA British Touring Car Championship result of fifth at Donington Park last weekend, Aiden Moffat expects Mercedes to be strong once again when the series heads to Thruxton next month.
The 18-year-old Scot enjoyed his best BTCC weekend to date at the Leicester circuit, qualifying the Laser Tools Mercedes A-Class inside the top 10 on Saturday afternoon before netting a personal best finish of fifth in the all-action final race on Sunday.
Moffat’s fifth place came after he charged from 16th on the grid in race three, evading incidents ahead of him before coming out on top in a hard-fought dice for fifth spot with the BMR Racing Volkswagen CC of Aron Smith.
Speaking to The Checkered Flag after the final race, Moffat said: “I didn’t expect that to say the least.
“The opportunities came. As soon as I got into the top 10 I thought ‘this is great’ because I’m aiming for top-10s, but to finish inside the top five is just amazing for us all.
“We know that there were a lot of cars on the soft tyre, so we knew we had to push because a lot of cars were going to be quicker at the start.
“By the time we got onto the last lap I was the quickest on track, so we were pushing hard knowing [those on soft tyres] would drop off eventually.”
Moffat’s Sunday initially had not gone to plan, dropping back when on the softer compound rubber to 18th place from ninth on the grid, before the Mercedes man was then tagged into a lurid excursion heading down Craner Curves after contact from the West Surrey Racing BMW of Andy Priaulx.
The moment dropped Moffat to 16th in race two, the Scot adding: “The weekend was going quite badly to be honest even though we had our best qualifying. It went downhill from there as we fell from ninth to 18th on the soft tyre, which just didn’t work for us on that occasion.
“Going into the second race we started 10th and I thought we might be able to get up there with the reverse grid and maybe end up on the podium. We had the pace, we were fast, but then again so were the guys in front of us.
“But it went a slightly different way. I ended up getting taken out at Craners so I started 16th, then from that point we had nothing to lose.”
Mercedes enjoyed a podium also thanks to Ciceley Racing‘s Adam Morgan, who also grabbed a trio of top-10 finishes at Thruxton last season – the Hampshire venue next up on the BTCC calendar on 9/10 May.
“I’m not sure what’s going to happen at Thruxton yet”, added Moffat on the next meeting. “The car struggled in a straight line so you would imagine that would badly hurt us, but at the same time – if you look at the past years – good handling cars have good momentum, which is key.
“I think we should be able to do quite well regardless. As far as handling is concerned, the Mercedes is awesome. You feel a lot more confident when braking, you can carry more speed and all-round it just feels a better car.”