Opening BTCC weekend one of Blundell’s biggest challenges

by Stuart Richards
Mark Blundell BTCC 2019

Plenty of attention was on former LeMans 24 Hours and IndyCar race winner Mark Blundell as he made his Kwik Fit British Touring Car Championship début with Trade Price Cars Racing at Brands Hatch last weekend.

Despite some fans thinking that he’d take to the series like a duck to water considering his CV, Mark certainly knew of the challenges that the BTCC and front-wheel drive machinery could throw up.

“This weekend has been one of the biggest challenges of my career in terms of the learning curve I’ve faced.” Said the racing veteran,

“It’s been incredibly steep. I’ve had to learn about the car, the racing environment and the challenges of managing a soft tyre that certainly wasn’t the optimal one for the conditions.”

This was graphically shown during qualifying when during one of his flying laps, he misjudged his braking point and sailed into the barriers at Druids. With the new qualifying rules in place, his incident created a red flag and he lost both his fastest time up to that point and also the opportunity to run again in the remainder of the session.

Starting from twenty-eighth but on the favoured slick tyre, Mark worked his way steadily through the field to a fourteenth place finish and points in his first ever BTCC race. A superb achievement considering all the challenges he was facing.

Race two sadly saw the unfavoured option tyre make an appearance on Mark’s Audi S3 Saloon and he struggled towards twenty-seventh place. But, he made up for this disappointment with a strong race three where he brought the car safely home within the top twenty.

With the first weekend out of the way, knowledge about how to drive an NGTC car and the tactics of touring car racing have been gained and look set to be built upon for the remainder of the season.

Mark continued, “Overall, there is a huge amount that I can take away from Brands Hatch and the team has done a great job.

“Jake has picked up some really good results, and I’m pleased to have been able to score some points first time out in the car.

“To get three finishes and come back with a car that is in one piece is a plus point for me. My lap times have been competitive which is good, as I know that I still need to find some raw pace. When I do that, I feel I’ll be in a good place.

“I have to analyse and reflect on everything that I have learned this weekend and then take that into Donington Park next time out.”

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