Sam Tordoff left his home circuit Croft, in North Yorkshire in high spirits heading into the Dunlop MSA British Touring Car Championship mid-season break after collecting three top ten finishes and a strong points haul over the weekend (June 23/24).
The Leeds-based driver’s impressive qualifying performance and race pace was evident once again with the 29-year-old picking up two fourth place finishes and a top eight result in the Team GardX Racing with Motorbase Ford Focus RS, collecting 34 well-earned championship points for his 2018 campaign.
Showing no sign of relinquishing this season’s enviable qualifying record, Tordoff claimed P4 in Saturday’s closely fought session – just 0.203seconds off the pole lap – as the highest-placed FWD car on the renowned RWD circuit.
Starting the opening race behind the favoured RWD Subaru’s, Tordoff dropped to 5th off the line with the Yorkshireman forced to defend hard against the fast-charging ‘King of Croft’ Turkington in the opening laps. Managing to keep the two-time BTCC champion at bay as the laps unfolded, the GardX-backed racer was then forced to take evasive action from Jordan’s errant BMW on lap 4 – a move that was rewarded with a P4 spot – which he held to flag.
With 48kg of ballast on-board for race two, Tordoff had a tough task ahead of him to keep the WSR duo of Turkington and Collard at bay for the 15 lap contest. A steady hand and strong defensive drive was repaid with his second P4 finish of the day – boosting him up into 10th in the Championship standings.
With the reversed grid draw slotting the #600 Focus RS into P6 for the final race of the day. Tordoff had the double task of running on the hard-compound option tyre with another 48kg of ballast on-board. Dropping places off the line against the faster starting BMWs, Tordoff found himself tussling with Tom Ingram for 8th. Losing the spot to the Speedworks man on lap 3, an epic comeback on the final lap saw the Yorkshireman snatch 8th place back as the duo raced across the start finish line with Tordoff coming out on top by just 0.097seconds.
“Overall it was a good weekend;” said Tordoff. “We’re back in the hunt! It’s been great racing at my home circuit, I’ve had lots of friends and family here supporting me and it does make a difference.
“It would have been nice to get onto the podium but we never really expected to do that at Croft. I’ll keep taking fourth; it’s a good amount of points and not a hideous amount of weight. It’s all a step in the right direction.”
“Running the hard tyre in race 3 hard was always going to be tricky, particularly with the typical scenario where most people seem to throw caution to the wind. There were a few fast people coming through, so overall I think we can be happy with 8th in the last race.
“The car’s been good this weekend;” he added. “It’s surprised me how good really. This is a RWD domination circuit this weekend and they’ve not dominated this time around. We’ve been the most competitive FWD car and been mixing it in the top 5 in all three races so that’s a pleasant surprise. I thought it would be a real struggle this weekend, and I’m looking forward to the summer break now.”
The weekend’s excellent points haul has helped to lift Tordoff to 11th in the overall Drivers’ standings and 5th in the Independents’ championship with Team GardX Racing with Motorbase sitting in 10th in the overall Teams’ and 6th place in the Indy Teams’ championship as the BTCC reaches the half-way point of the season. Following its annual mid-summer hiatus, the series gets back underway at Snetterton in Norfolk with a special 60th anniversary celebratory weekend on July 28/29.
“We’ll arrive at Snetterton with next to no weight which means hopefully we can qualify well there;” added Tordoff. “With double points on offer for race 3 as well, you never know, we might be leaving there in a much more favourable position.”
“Sam and the team have done an excellent job this weekend;” added Team Principal David Bartrum. “To come away from Croft, which is known as a rear wheel drive dominated circuit with such a good haul of points is an excellent result.
“I’m really pleased that Sam’s been able to have three solid races this weekend without any dramas. He’s one of, if not the, most consistent men on the grid this season and the results really haven’t been going his way. Hopefully this weekend is a sign of things to come and I feel sure that the podiums and wins are not too far away.”