Sam Tordoff produced a fighting performance during the historic Diamond Double Dunlop MSA British Touring Car Championship 60th anniversary meeting at the weekend, securing two top six finishes in the GardX Racing Ford Focus RS at Snetterton (July 28/29).
The Yorkshireman went into the 60th Anniversary BTCC celebrations looking for a change in luck after a torrid run of bad fortune during the opening half of the season. A promising start for the JCT600-backed racer’s weekend was unfortunately cut-short by race-ending damage to the #600 Focus RS in the final race of the weekend, ruling him out of the double points, 20 lap contest.
Saturday’s two qualifying sessions delivered mixed results for Team GardX Racing with Motorbase. With the squad struggling to find the ideal set-up, Tordoff was off the pace in both sessions, recording P8 for race 1 and a disappointing P16 for the all-important Diamond Double 60 mile special.
Tordoff’s best result of the day came in Sunday’s opening race. Despite horrendous visibility and the extreme wet weather conditions, the 29-year-old tussled side by side with Austin to take 7th before setting his sights on the lead pack. Managing to pilot his way up into 5th by the fourth tour of the circuit, the #600 eventually crossed the line in P5.
Lining up with 39kg of success ballast and running on the soft compound tyre for race 2, Tordoff found himself back in P6 off the start line. A battling drive from the Leeds-based driver saw him challenge for 5thon numerous occasions, but frustratingly he was unable to make the moves stick, and had to settle with P6 at the flag.
Starting from P16 for the double distance, double point finale Tordoff charged off the line and had moved up through the pack and into 11th by lap 3. With the Focus looking set for another strong points haul from the 60 mile contest, disaster struck on fifth lap after heavy contact from behind forced the GardX car into the pits with race-ending damage to the left-rear suspension.
“It’s a bit disappointing really;” commented Tordoff. “We’ve lacked pace this weekend, which is the first time this year and we still don’t know why. We were fast in the wet in race 1 and we carried that forward in race 2 in the dry on the soft tyre, but then in the 3rd equal weight race we were nowhere.
“I got a great start from 16th to 11th and it was looking good but I didn’t have any pace in the car so was immediately on the back foot and struggling to fight and then we got contact which broke the left rear and that was the end of that.
“We need to go away and back to the drawing board;” he added. “We’ve got a test planned this week so hopefully we can put a few things into practice there. All things considered, 5th and 6th was a good result. Race 3 was more reflective of our pace and unfortunately the damage comes with the territory of being in that mid pack.”
Team Principal David Bartrum added; “Sam had an outstanding race 1, moving up to 5th in treacherous conditions. Having shown his pace in the wet, the added ballast showed more in the dry second race; however he was looking good for a podium with just 2 laps to go. Sam’s pace this weekend was all despite lack of seat time during the summer break.
“Unfortunately a very uncharacteristic Q2 result from the best qualifying driver on the grid this season made the diamond double a tough challenge. Then contact took him out of the running altogether early on in the race, so he missed out on some vital points there.”
“We have a test planned later on this week;” added the Team Boss. “After that, we can move on to Rockingham with some clear objectives.”
In spite of missing out on the double points opportunity, Tordoff’s brace of top 6 finishes helped to propel him up into 8th place in the Overall Championship and 4th in the Independent Standings with 12 rounds still to left to run this season. Team GardX Racing with Motorbase currently lies 10th and 6th in the Overall and Indy Teams’ points as the series resumes again in two weeks’ time at Rockingham Speedway circuit on August 11/12.