Month: April 2019

Cobra Sport AmD with AutoAid/RCIB Insurance Racing maintains strong start at Donington Park

RCIB at Donington Park

The Cobra Sport AmD with AutoAid/RCIB Insurance Racing team maintained its strong start to the new Kwik Fit British Touring Car Championship season after showing front-running pace across the weekend at Donington Park.

The West Thurrock-based team headed to the East Midlands circuit on a high after a breakthrough victory at Brands Hatch earlier in the month, with drivers Sam Tordoff and Rory Butcher confident about fighting at the sharp end of the field.

Leeds racer Sam had endured a weekend to forget at Brands Hatch on his first outing in the team’s Honda Civic Type R, but looked well set to get his championship challenge underway after qualifying in a solid fifth place.

Running fourth in the early stages of the race, Sam battled his way up into the podium places after an early safety car period, but damage sustained in a clash with Josh Cook would then lead to him suffering a spin going into the final chicane.

Dropping down outside the points, Sam nursed the car to the finish to take 13th place and then went into race two focused on pushing back into the top ten.

Up into ninth within three laps of the start, Sam’s race was going to plan early on but a hit from behind going into the Craner Curves on lap seven resulted in a high speed spin across the grass that dropped him down towards the rear of the field. From there, Sam drove well to recover to 14th, although it was very much a case of what might have been.

Running the hard compound tyre in race three, Sam’s weekend ended with a 15th place finish.

Fife ace Rory was keen to build on his Brands Hatch victory but was left on the back foot in qualifying when he was unable to get a clear lap in the changeable conditions and was left down in 19th place on the grid.

The Scot fought his way forwards to eleventh in the opening race of the weekend and then set what would prove the be the fastest race lap of the weekend in race two with a storming run through to fifth.

Sixth on the grid for race three thanks to the reverse grid draw, Rory produced a battling drive on the less favourable hard tyre to secure fourth place and heads away from the weekend sitting just six points off the championship lead.

As at Brands Hatch, Rory also secured Jack Sears Trophy honours for the weekend.

Rory Butcher, #6 Cobra Sport AmD with AutoAid/RCIB Insurance Racing Honda Civic Type R, said:
“Qualifying was so disappointing as we didn’t get a decent lap in the conditions and it made race day tough. But I tried to make progress in each race and it worked. We got the fastest lap on the medium tyre and had the quickest car on the hard tyre in race three, which is really good.

“Before race three I thought it would be nice to try and get my tally for the day up to 30 points and that’s what we did. That is the goal for each race meeting and I’m always looking at the bigger picture and the season as a whole.

“The car was strong in the Thruxton test we did recently and whilst a little bit of ballast will hit us going there, we’ll be in the mix. It isn’t about fighting for pole, it’s about challenging for the points on race day that will be key later in the year.”

Sam Tordoff, #600 Cobra Sport AmD with AutoAid/RCIB Insurance Racing Honda Civic Type R, said:
“Unfortunately this weekend has been yet another disaster for me. We had another strong qualifying performance to take P5 on Saturday, and I thought our luck had finally turned. However, the contact in race one eventually broke the car and spat me off, and it set the tone for race two. We were coming through nicely and then got turfed off again, which ruined my race.

“Being on the hard tyre in race three, we tried a few radical things thinking ahead to Thruxton. It seemed like a good time to experiment given that the rest of the day hadn’t gone to plan but sadly it didn’t work out, although we did set the fastest lap on the hard tyre.

“We just have to keep trying and keep plugging away because our time will come.”

Shaun Hollamby, Cobra Sport AmD with AutoAid/RCIB Insurance Racing team principal, said:
“It’s been a bit of a mixed bag again this weekend. Rory has done a great job and has driven really well and it means he is right up there in the points after two rounds – and there on merit because he’s picked up some strong results and been right on the pace.

“Sam has been unfortunate with contact in two of the races and it means that he hasn’t picked up the results that he deserves once again this weekend.

“Clearly we have a fast race car and we can go to Thruxton feeling positive that both drivers will be able to push for the podium.”


Photo credits with thanks to LAP – Laborne Action Photography

Cobra Sport AmD with AutoAid/RCIB Insurance Racing keen to build on strong start

RCIB Insurance Racing at Donington Park

The Cobra Sport AmD with AutoAid/RCIB Insurance Racing team will seek to build on a strong start to the 2019 Kwik Fit British Touring Car Championship season when the series heads to Donington Park this weekend for round two.

The West Thurrock-based team secured its first win in the series at Brands Hatch earlier this month thanks to Fife racer Rory Butcher, who heads to the East Midlands circuit sitting fourth in the standings as a result.

Three top ten finishes at the wheel of his Honda Civic Type R marked a solid start to the campaign for the Scottish star, who also tops the Jack Sears Trophy standings for those drivers who went into the 2019 campaign without an overall podium finish.

Rory showed strong pace during testing at Thruxton last week where he was third quickest of the 29 drivers in action, leaving him to head into the Donington meeting in confident mood.

Team-mate Sam Tordoff by contrast endured a tough weekend at Brands Hatch that saw him fail to score on his debut with the team, with the Leeds racer one of a number of fancied runners to find themselves in the wars in Kent.

Despite that tough start, Sam was back up to speed during the Thruxton test, where the #600 Honda ended the day firmly inside the top ten.

Having been one of the pace-setters throughout pre-season testing, Sam now goes to Donington Park – a circuit where he has been victorious in the past – eager to get his championship challenge underway and with his focus firmly on pushing for a big haul of points.

Rory Butcher, #6 Cobra Sport AmD with AutoAid/RCIB Insurance Racing Honda Civic Type R, said:
“I’m feeling really good heading for Donington on the back of the results at Brands Hatch and the performance in testing at Thruxton last week. As a team, we are working really well and I feel we are in a strong position to challenge for some more solid results on track.

“The only issue we could face is that the weather forecast seems to be quite unpredictable but at the same time, we know that the Honda is a strong package regardless of whether it is wet, dry or mixed.

“I learned very early in my BTCC career how important it is to keep scoring points and moving forwards, because silly mistakes in qualifying or the opening race can really put you on the back foot for the rest of the weekend. That worked for me at Brands Hatch and I’m taking the same approach into Donington Park, where I’m eager to bring home three strong finishes.

“If we can come away with some more silverware then that will obviously be fantastic, but points make prizes when we get to the end of the year and we have to keep picking them up.”

Sam Tordoff, #600 Cobra Sport AmD with AutoAid/RCIB Insurance Racing Honda Civic Type R, said:
“We’ve got to the bottom of the issue that I had at Brands Hatch and the test at Thruxton has validated that, so now I can head for Donington Park with my focus firmly on getting my season underway.

“Realistically, I’d say we are around 30 points down on where we should be after round one, but it’s a long season and there is no need to panic. There is plenty of time to recover, and we’ve seen in the past how drivers can have a difficult start to the year and still be right in contention at the end of the season.

“I’m heading for Donington feeling confident as we had a strong test there before the season started and it’s a circuit where I have gone well in the past. With no additional weight to carry into the weekend, we should be in a position to qualify well and then hopefully we can put some good points on the board. For me, the season starts now.

“Regardless of what the weather conditions may be, I’m sure we’ll be right in the mix.”

Shaun Hollamby, Cobra Sport AmD with AutoAid/RCIB Insurance Racing team principal, said:
“Brands Hatch was very much a weekend of highs and lows and whilst it was great to see Rory get his first win, it was hugely disappointing for Sam because of the issues he faced.

“With both cars now fully back up to speed as we showed in the test at Thruxton, we head for Donington Park confident that both Rory and Sam will be able to fight at the sharp end of the field. Sam in particular should benefit from the lack of ballast he’ll be carrying, and there is no reason why both drivers can’t look to score big on race day.

“Having secured silverware at Brands Hatch, we’ve keen to add to it this weekend.”

Photos with thanks to LAP – Laborne Action Photography

Cobra Sport AmD with AutoAid/RCIB Insurance Racing secures first BTCC victory

Cobra Sport AmD with AutoAid/RCIB Insurance Racing secures first BTCC victory - Rory with his first silverware!

The Cobra Sport AmD with AutoAid/RCIB Insurance Racing team was able to celebrate a breakthrough victory after a dramatic opening to the new Kwik Fit British Touring Car Championship season at Brands Hatch.

The West Thurrock-based team headed into the season opener with high hopes of success on track after a solid pre-season testing programme with the Honda Civic Type Rs it is campaigning for the first time this year.

Fife racer Rory Butcher would enjoy a strong start to his season having qualified eleventh on the grid for the opening race of the year in a tricky session held in damp conditions on Saturday afternoon.

Early morning rain on race day led to a gamble on tyres for the opening 24 lap encounter of the year, with Rory electing to go with wet tyres on his Honda – as was the case for most of the drivers ahead.

Whilst that proved to be the wrong call as the anticipated heavier rain didn’t arrive, Rory fought hard to secure a top ten finish as the third best driver on wet tyres.

An eighth place finish followed in race two on the less favourable soft tyre, with the reverse grid draw putting the Scotsman fourth on the grid for the final race of the weekend.

Whilst he slipped back to fifth early on, Rory fought back ahead of Tom Ingram’s Toyota into fourth place and then took advantage of a battle between Stephen Jelley and Matt Neal to pass both drivers in one go exiting Graham Hill Bend on lap 16.

Lapping quicker than leader Tom Chilton ahead, Rory set about trying to chase down his rival before eventually crossing the line in second place for his maiden podium finish. However, a post-session penalty for an on-track incident for Chilton then promoted Rory into first place – meaning a first victory for both driver and team.

Rory also secured Jack Sears Trophy honours for the weekend thanks to his combined results across the three races.

Leeds-based team-mate Sam Tordoff however endured a challenging start to his season as a result of an unidentified issue with his car that would hamper his challenge on race day.

Despite an off in qualifying that resulted in him losing his quickest time, Sam had qualified ninth on the grid for race one only for his race to come to an end on lap two when on-track content damaged the rear suspension on his car.

At the back of the field for race two as a result, Sam fought his way forwards to 19th place at the finish and then just missed out on the points with 16th in race three as he was unable to build on the pace shown throughout pre-season testing.

Rory Butcher, #6 Cobra Sport AmD with AutoAid/RCIB Insurance Racing Honda Civic Type, said:
“It isn’t the way that you want to win a race, but you need a bit of luck in the BTCC sometimes and I’ll certainly take it. I’m so pleased to be the person who gives the AmD team its first win, and it’s an amazing feeling to be able to call myself a BTCC race winner.

“I’m delighted with the weekend as a whole as we battled back from qualifying. I stayed calm and tried to progress in each race, and I knew that we could take advantage of it we had the chance to be near the front.

“I can’t thank the team enough and we showed strong pace in each race in different conditions. The only mistake was not to roll the dice on the tyres in race one, but it’s a nice feeling to have some silverware and I’m buzzing about the way things have gone.”

Sam Tordoff, #600 Cobra Sport AmD with AutoAid/RCIB Insurance Racing Honda Civic Type, said:
“It’s hard to know what to say about the weekend to be honest. We had such high hopes of a strong performance but there has been a fundamental issue on my car that we just haven’t been able to resolve.

“We have to just put Brands Hatch behind us, and my season will start when we get to Donington Park in a few weeks time.”

Shaun Hollamby, Cobra Sport AmD with AutoAid/RCIB Insurance Racing team principal:
“This really has been a weekend of mixed emotions for us as a team. We came here with such high hopes of a strong performance for both drivers and the fact we were disappointed with our best ever qualifying performance shows how our expectations have been raised this year.

“On one hand, I’m delighted for Rory with the results he had gained on track as he has done a great job and has shown why we rate him so highly as both a driver and a person. He’s been on the pace throughout race day and for him to take our first win is brilliant.

“On the other, it’s so disappointing for Sam as he has been quick throughout testing and then when it mattered today, he has been unable to show it through no fault of his own. His car will be stripped down when we get back to base to get to the bottom of the issues there have been today, as the results are certainly down to something with the car rather than anything he has done behind the wheel.

“When we get to Donington Park, we’ll look forward to both cars running towards the sharp end.”

Pics with thanks to LAP – Laborne Action Photography.

Introducing…the 2019 AmDTuning/Cobrasport with AutoAid/RCIB Insurance Racing Grid Girls!

Meet Serena and Michelle

On the eve of the first live qualifying sessions for the first rounds of the 2019 Kwik Fit BTCC season (Brands Hatch this weekend), many thoughts and discussions are understandably around the drivers, who has been looking sharp in testing, and the new car and team set ups for the season ahead.

But, we thought we’d break a little with tradition and instead introduce our loyal grid girls for the season ahead in advance of the race days.

Before we introduce Michelle and Serena separately, we thought we’d just remind readers of what it is that the girls have to endure for the team. Many would be forgiven for thinking the roles are simply to be a glamourous representive of a driver for a few minutes before a race, and indeed, this is part of the job description. But, in addition to wielding the driver placards before each race, Michelle and Serena need to leave their already very busy lives (see below) to get to the tracks around the country, more often or not staying overnight in hotels away from their families to sometimes stand in the pouring rain, or freezing cold, or very occasionally, blazing sunshine…all the time with a smile on their faces. Not only that, but the grid girls also have fans of their own and as representatives of the team and the team sponsors, the girls spend much of a race day posing with fans, signing autographs and having chats, trackside or in the team garage.

We think we are particulary lucky to have Michelle and Serena represent our team because, glamour and style aside, they are HUGE petrolheads themselves, as you’ll now discover:

Michelle: Those of you who have met Michelle previously will firstly recall her extremely bubbly and approachable personality, but many others may also remember her when she was a 2017 promo girl for Mike Brewer and Ant Anstead from Wheeler Dealers (Sky Discovery Channel) for their “classic rumble” charity build event at NEC.

Michelle's Cosworth

As a big motorsport enthusiast anyway, Michelle has attended BTCC events for many years, starting off like many others watching from the fences and was then lucky enough to make it onto the grid as an AmD Grid Girl for the 2018 BTCC season during which time she worked on track with: Tom Boardman, Glynn Geddie, Sam Smelt, Josh Caygill and Ollie Jackson. For this season she’ll be with Sam Tordoff.

Off track, Michelle has also recently been a featured fashion model on ITV’s ‘This Morning’ with Phillip and Holly. On non race weekends she can be found at race tracks and at Ford events, where she has achieved multiple concours wins with herm and her partners Escort Cosworth “Monte Carlo”. Michelle then became the owner of her “very own” Escort Cosworth which she love to show at events around the country. At present she (the Cosworth!) is currently undergoing a restoration which Michelle has been a huge part of, which included stripping down the engine to cleaning every nut and bolt ready to enter into her first concours season.


For last season (2018) Serena worked on grid with Rory. Considering the remarkable season that Rory had, we think Serena must have been a calming influence! Prior to the 2018 season, Serena had promo experience, but just not on the grid, but had also been involved in motorsport for years in a different capacity as Serena’s father was a former endurance driver in a Lola t70, Fastback Mustang and a Camaro.

Serena's RS Turbo Phase 1

Also, like Michelle, Serena has her own passion for cars, and RS Fords again too, coincidently, as she currently owns a Mk4 Escort RS Turbo that she herself has been ‘tracking’ for years.. and she is now rebuilding the car back to standard. Serena is also heavily involved in her husband’s gorgeous Mk3 Escort RS Turbo (Phase 1)  which is a gold cup winning modified concours car.

serena on track

Serena, like Michelle, was also a promo girl for Discovery TV’s ‘Wheeler Dealers’ and for Mike Brewer’s and Ant Anstead’s “Classic Rumble” charity build-off at the NEC two years ago. Along side the BTCC grid work this season, Serena is also doing a charity modelling competition for ‘UK Calendar Girls’.

With this much knowledge and experience about cars and track racing amongst the grid girls, we sometimes wonder if they give the drivers tips and advice before each race, as well as representing them in all weathers!

Laser Tools Racing in readiness for Opening Rounds at Brands Hatch

Aidens Moffats Mercedes 2019

As the first rounds of the new BTCC season approach, Aiden Moffat and his Laser Tools Racing team have been extensively testing his Mercedes-Benz A-Class touring car after its mega strip-down and rebuild over the winter months.

The big news for 2019 is that the car is now fully prepared and maintained at Laser Tools Racing’s new facility in Scotland. “We are now fully in control,” explained Aiden, “We have built an all-new facility which gives us the engineering and preparation capability together with full bodyshop and painting, which means that we can also offer customers full race car preparation and repair.

“The Mercedes was completely stripped down to a bare shell, then carefully examined and repaired where necessary after the punishment these cars take over a full season’s racing. We then took the opportunity to carefully examine the structure of the body shell and with assistance from our race engineers, it has been carefully modified to increase strength and stiffness, optimise the weight distribution and we’ve made it lighter as well.

“This has paid dividends already, as we’ve been track testing at every opportunity, visiting Snetterton, Donington, Oulton Park, Knockhill, two days at Croft and now we’ve just had another two days at Brands Hatch.

“And I’m immensely proud to say that the car has behaved impeccably, which gives me tremendous confidence for the season ahead. With the bright new livery, and the fact that I am the most focussed, excited and eager for a new season than I have ever been before, I am really looking forward to it.

“In my opinion, the BTCC is getting more competitive every year. Every team and every driver are stepping up their game, so we have to do the same. Our biggest aim this year is consistency; that can be a challenge of course, but now that we are preparing the car in-house and with the obvious improvements we’ve made, it is certainly a realistic challenge.”

The 2019 BTCC season kicks off at Brands Hatch over the weekend of April 6/7.

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Cobra Sport AmD with AutoAid/RCIB Insurance Racing ready to kick-start title challenge

Ready for Brands Round 1

The Cobra Sport AmD with AutoAid/RCIB Insurance Racing team will hope to build on a strong testing programme when the new Kwik Fit British Touring Car Championship season bursts into life this weekend at Brands Hatch.

The West Thurrock-based team makes the short trip to its home circuit in confident mood, with drivers Rory Butcher and Sam Tordoff buoyed by the pace shown by the team’s new Honda Civic Type Rs in official testing at the circuit last week.

Bradford racer Sam proved to be the man to beat on the timesheets, with a record-breaking lap at the wheel of the #600 Honda seeing him lead the 30-car field.

Twelve months ago, Sam qualified on the front row of the grid – alongside the Honda he is now driving – but found himself out of luck on race day, something he will be keen to avoid this time around.

With consistency being key to a championship challenge, Sam heads into his first weekend with the team keen to put a good haul of points on the board, with three strong top ten finishes being his ultimate aim.

Team-mate Rory heads into his second full season in the series looking to build on a solid 2018 campaign that saw him regularly fighting for points finishes in an MG6 GT.

Now armed with one of the most successful cars to have raced in the series in recent years, the Fife racer will hope to build on the experience gained last season to push forwards into the top ten and launch a bid for Independents’ class honours.

The corresponding event last year saw Rory secure a career-best finish of sixth in the final race of the weekend and – like Sam – three strong points scoring finishes are the target from the opening weekend of the campaign.

Rory Butcher, #6 Cobra Sport AmD with AutoAid/RCIB Insurance Racing Honda Civic Type R, said:
“I’m feeling really positive going into Brands Hatch. We’ve had a good testing programme, and Knockhill in particular was great for me because I know the circuit like the back of my hand and it meant I could work on gaining confidence in the car. We’ve been able to get complete some decent mileage, and I feel we’re in a good position for the season opener.

“It’s clear to see that the Honda is a big step forward from the MG we had last year. The shorter wheelbase helps, and there are a few key areas where it is stronger. When you combine them together – and add in the development that has gone into the car – you can see how good it is.

“It’s a long season, which is something we need to remember, and the aim this weekend is to try and start on a high. Improving in qualifying is one key thing for me this year and I want to come away from Brands Hatch having put some good points on the board.”

Sam Tordoff, #600 Cobra Sport AmD with AutoAid/RCIB Insurance Racing Honda Civic Type R, said:
“Testing has gone really well over the past month and we have been quick at every circuit we have been to, which gives me a lot of confidence going into the opening round.

“So far, the Honda has proved to be everything I expected from it and more besides. When you hear people say how good a car is, you expect there to be something that isn’t quite right but it really is that good. It does everything that little bit better than the cars I have driven before and that combines to make a great package. The new Swindon engine is also a big improvement from when I last raced with one in my MG days.

“Despite what we have done in testing, it’s important that we don’t get carried away going into Brands Hatch as the season is long and there are lots of twist and turns ahead. I saw first hand last year how important it is to finish races well and keep scoring points, and not being able to do that through no fault of my own really cost me.

“This time around, I want to make sure that the season starts with three good top ten finishes and then we can look to build on that when we move on to Donington.”

Shaun Hollamby, Cobra Sport AmD with AutoAid/RCIB Insurance Racing team principal, said:
“This season will be our tenth in the BTCC and I think we are going into the opening round in better shape than ever before. Pre-season testing with the Hondas has gone well and both Sam and Rory have been on the pace, and Sam has quickly gelled with the team.

“Whilst you always have to be careful about reading too much into testing times, our performance during the official session at Brands Hatch was extremely promising and we can head back there this weekend confident about fighting for some strong results.”

Pictures with thanks to BTCC.