West Surrey Racing boss Dick Bennetts feels that BMW have made major steps forward with their engine development, Rob Collard leaving Thruxton as joint Dunlop MSA British Touring Car Championship leader.
Although the WSR squad left Hampshire without a win to their name, the team enjoyed a consistent weekend towards the front of the field for their trio of BMW 125i M-Sport machines, continuing a remarkable recent run of reliability also.
Results of second in race two and a brace of sixth place finishes were enough for Collard to grab a share of the championship lead with Honda’s Matt Neal, a very pleasing outcome for both the former and his team boss.
Speaking to The Checkered Flag on Sunday evening, WSR team principal Bennetts enthused: “It’s been a very good weekend I feel.
“For Rob to be joint championship leader coming out of Thruxton is very pleasing. The other big thing is that I’m so proud of the lads, because that’s now 27 races we’ve finished.
“Reliability – preparation wise – is very good at the moment. We’ve still got a bit of homework to do, but overall, it’s encouraging.”
Tyres proved a determining factor as ever at the abrasive Thruxton circuit, punctures being a topic that WSR evaded as others fell foul in the scorching temperatures.
“We’d worked very hard on the set-up up here to be kind on the tyres”, added Bennetts. “We tuned the car to do that. Tyre pressures, [use of] kerbs, cambers and all those things are sent to us [by Dunlop] a week before the event, saying ‘don’t forget, Thruxton is hard on the left hand side’.”
A major improvement seen by WSR in the opening three meetings of 2016 appears to have been the performance of the team’s Neil Brown-supplied power plant. An area that concerned his drivers 12 months prior, Bennetts feels that these gains,coupled with further chassis development will only make BMW stronger in the summer.
“The engine is going pretty strong”, he beamed. “Neil Brown has done a great job there and I wish we had this engine last year. Now we’ve got such a good engine, we need to get the chassis tweaked and we’ll be in there.”
On the opposing side of the WSR coin, Bennetts felt sympathetic towards Sam Tordoff and Jack Goff in the fellow 125i machines, both seeing chances to shine go begging in separate race three incidents. Tordoff was eased wide by a defending Dan Welch at the Complex, Goff spinning after contact late on with reigning champion, Gordon Shedden.
“I felt bad for both Sam and Jack in race three because the potential was there for some very good results, but didn’t happen”, reflected the WSR boss. “With Jack being new for us this year, he’s doing a very good job and Sam is just having a lot of bad luck.
“Race three should have been a good result. [Sam] took a bit of a punt around the outside, but sometimes you can be a hero from it so you have to have a go.”
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