Month: September 2019

Cobra Sport AmD with Autoaid/RCIB Insurance Racing keen to maintain title challenge at Silverstone

Mike Bushell 1st Race replacing Sam Tordoff

The Cobra Sport AmD with Autoaid/RCIB Insurance Racing team will seek to maintain its bid for title honours when the 2019 Kwik Fit British Touring Car Championship heads for Silverstone next weekend for the penultimate meeting of the season.

The West Thurrock-based team enjoyed a fine weekend last time out at Knockhill, with Scottish star Rory Butcher securing his maiden pole position before storming to his third win of the season on home soil.

Team-mate Mike Bushell meanwhile broke the circuit lap record on his return to action, having never driven the team’s Honda Civic Type R prior to the weekend.

Fife racer Rory heads to Silverstone with confidence on a high on the back of his Knockhill weekend, where he also secured a podium finish alongside his race one win.

Those results mean Rory goes into the final six races of the season firmly in contention for the overall championship in just his second full season in the series, whilst he is also just a single point away from the lead of the Independents’ Trophy and heads the Jack Sears Trophy standings.

The 30-year-old showed strong pace at Silverstone twelve months ago with a fine drive through the field in the opening race of the weekend, and will hope to make the most of the pace of the Honda to fight towards the sharp end of the grid – with the FK2 Type R having taken three wins at the circuit in the past three years.

With Leeds-racer Sam Tordoff having taken the decision to withdraw from the remainder of the season following the recent loss of his newborn son, Kent-based Mike will continue at the wheel of the sister Honda and will also contest the season finale at Brands Hatch next month.

On his return to action at Knockhill, Mike was on the pace from the outset despite the fact that he hadn’t been at the wheel of a BTCC car since February, although an unfortunate set of circumstances on race day meant he wasn’t able to secure the results that his speed deserved.

Mike enjoyed one of his best weekends of the season at Silverstone twelve months ago with two points finishes and has multiple podium finishes at the circuit during his time in the Clio Cup UK; where he is a double championship winner.

With valuable experience of driving the Honda now under his belt – and running without the additional ballast he had to carry at Knockhill as a new entry – Mike will seek to try and push towards the top ten to aid the team in its championship challenge.

Shaun Hollamby, Cobra Sport AmD with AutoAid/RCIB Insurance Racing team principal, said:
“All season we have tried to make sure that we didn’t get carried away about our results, and with two rounds to go, we now find ourselves right in the mix for each of the championships we are eligible for.

“To be able to say that against the competition we face in the BTCC is something I am hugely proud of, and we will be giving our all over the final two rounds to see what we can achieve in the final standings.

“On the back of his results at Knockhill, Rory can head for Silverstone with plenty of confidence behind him, and we are confident that he will once again be right at the sharp end of the grid and fighting for the podium places.

“Sam’s involvement with the programme and the experience he has been able to bring from racing with some of the top teams in the series has been invaluable this year. He has shown his undoubted speed and has been a key part of the success we have enjoyed, and certainly deserved more than the win he secured at Thruxton.

“Whilst it is unfortunate that his season has ended early, family must come first in these circumstances. His decision to sit out the final two rounds is one that is completely understandable, and he and Georgie remain firmly in our thoughts and have our ongoing support.

“After an unlucky weekend at Knockhill, I’m sure that Mike will do a good job on Sam’s behalf through the final two rounds and will be able to challenge for some strong points at both Silverstone and Brands Hatch.”

Rory Butcher, #6 Cobra Sport AmD with AutoAid/RCIB Insurance Racing Honda Civic Type R, said:
“It’s all to play for going into the final two rounds and it is nice that we have got to the business end of the season in contention for some silverware, both for myself and for the team.

“On paper, Silverstone is a circuit that should be a good one for us with the Honda, and it is a circuit that I also enjoy racing at. What we need to do is work hard on Saturday to get the most from practice and qualifying because that can then set us up for Sunday, as was the case at Knockhill.

“I have a strategy in my mind about how I want to approach this weekend, and the aim is to try and put that into practice to secure as many points as possible and keep my championship challenges on track.

“I can’t control what other people are doing and can only focus on doing the best job possible behind the wheel. That approach has served me well so far this season, and hopefully the same will apply when we get to Silverstone.”

Mike Bushell, #21 Cobra Sport AmD with AutoAid/RCIB Insurance Racing Honda Civic Type R, said:
“Once I had shaken off the cobwebs and got rid of the ballast I had to carry into Knockhill, I showed what I could do with the new lap record in race two and although lady luck wasn’t on my side in terms of results, it has given me a lot of confidence ahead of Silverstone.

“Things are a bit more settled this time around as I have more time to prepare for fact that I’m going to be in the car again, and as a team, we have all had more time to come to terms with the circumstances that have led to me being back behind the wheel.

“Silverstone is a circuit where I’ve had some good results in the past, and I’d like to think we can go there and qualify out of the ‘danger zone’ where you can easily pick up some damage when racing in the pack – as was the case at Knockhill.

“We know that the Honda has been strong around Silverstone before and having been quite close to the pace in qualifying last time out with weight onboard, it would be great if I could push into the top ten next weekend.

“If I can then bring home at least one top ten from the three races then that would be great as this is a hard championship and I have to be realistic. I’ll be doing everything I can to help Rory with his title challenge, and trying to score as many points for the team as possible.”

Thanks to Dickon Siddall for the pics!

Cobra Sport AmD with AutoAid/RCIB Insurance Racing storms to success at Knockhill

In memory of Arlo

The Cobra Sport AmD with AutoAid/RCIB Insurance Racing team secured a fourth win of the Kwik Fit British Touring Car Championship season on a stunning weekend of competition at Knockhill.

The West Thurrock-based team made the long trip to Scotland hoping to fight at the sharp end of the grid, with home hero Rory Butcher joined in the two-car line-up by the returning Mike Bushell.

At the circuit owned by his family, Rory was the man to beat throughout Saturday at the wheel of his Honda Civic Type R, topping both free practice sessions before romping to his maiden pole position in qualifying.

Maintaining his lead at the start, Rory found himself under pressure when he lost second gear during an early safety car period, which left him to try and complete the remainder of the race with nothing below third gear.

Keeping the BMW of Andrew Jordan at bay, Rory briefly slipped back to second at the start of the final lap but then reclaimed the place at McIntyres and went on to secure a popular home win.

With the gearbox replaced, a battling drive to third in race two despite carrying maximum ballast and being on the medium compound tyre saw Rory secure more silverware, although he also picked up a five place grid penalty for race three after contact with Colin Turkington.

That left him right in the middle of the pack for race three, where he secured more points with 14th to maintain his Jack Sears Trophy lead and remain right in the hunt for both the overall and Independents’ championship titles.

Having been asked to step in for the absent Sam Tordoff after the tragic death of his newborn son Arlo, Mike was quickly up to speed in free practice and then qualified 16th on the grid for the opening race of the weekend.

Mike’s hopes of a points-scoring finish were ended on the opening lap of the race when contact at turn one damaged the rear suspension on his car and forced him to retire.

There was to be more misfortune in race two when he was forced to pit with a loss of power, which was traced to a loose connection under the bonnet.

Returning to the track a number of laps down to make sure that the issue was resolved ahead of race three, Mike was left to wonder what might have been as he posted a new lap record – making him the only driver to lap below the 51 second marker across race day.

Unfortunately, race three would end in disappointment when contact with Rob Collard’s Vauxhall Astra at Clark’s ripped the left rear wheel from the Honda and meant he failed to finish for a third time.

The team will now look to maintain its title challenge when the series heads to Silverstone on the weekend of 28/29 September.

Shaun Hollamby, Cobra Sport AmD with AutoAid/RCIB Insurance Racing team principal, said:
“It’s been a fantastic weekend for us as a team, and to come away from Knockhill with pole position, a race win, another podium and a new lap record is just brilliant. To be honest, it’s a bit of a surreal feeling when you consider where we have come from as a team and I’m proud of the whole team.

“Rory has done a stunning job this weekend and to win in the manner he did in race one was fantastic. Mike has also done a better job than the results will show in difficult circumstances as he was on the pace from the moment he got in the car and his speed was shown in the fact that he broke the lap record.

“This weekend we were racing with Sam, Georgina and Arlo in our thoughts, and I’m delighted that we’ve been able to bring home some good results for them.”

Rory Butcher, #6 Cobra Sport AmD with AutoAid/RCIB Insurance Racing Honda Civic Type R, said:
“I think that has been our best weekend to date in terms of the results. We laid down a real marker on Saturday to top all three sessions with a good gap, although Sunday was a bit more difficult.

“Andrew kept me honest throughout race one and it was a real challenge after I lost second gear. I had to really drive to the maximum around the lap to build a gap because I knew that taking the hairpin in third gear would leave me open to attack.

“To bring the car home in front of the Scottish fans was an amazing feeling as there was a lot of expectation on me this weekend, and a lot of people here supporting me.

“A podium in race two was a good way to reward the guys for their hard work changing the gearbox, and race three was one of those where I had to get what I could whilst racing in the pack.

“Overall it’s been a fantastic weekend and I’d like to dedicate the win to the Tordoff family. They’ve all been in our thoughts, and that one is for them.”

Mike Bushell, #21 Cobra Sport AmD with AutoAid/RCIB Insurance Racing Honda Civic Type R, said:
“It’s nice to come away from the weekend with a new lap record to my name as it shows that I’ve not lost any speed during my time away from the car, but I certainly haven’t had any luck on my side.

“There wasn’t a great deal that I could have done in any of the three races to change what happened as two bouts of contact and a mechanical issues that was simply down to circumstances have prevented me from picking up some results.

“It’s a case of what might have been.”

Photo credit: Dickon Siddall.

Determined Cobra Sport AmD with AutoAid/RCIB Insurance Racing targets strong Knockhill weekend

Ready for Knockhill

The Cobra Sport AmD with AutoAid/RCIB Insurance Racing team will hope to challenge towards the sharp end of the grid in difficult circumstances when the Kwik Fit British Touring Car Championship heads to Knockhill this weekend.

The West Thurrock-based team secured victory for the third time last time out at Thruxton after Sam Tordoff converted his second pole position of the year into a race one win, adding to the two victories secured by team-mate Rory Butcher earlier in the year.

Those wins, and four further podium finishes, mean the team now makes the long trip to Scotland sitting third in the teams standings, and with confidence high about a strong weekend at a circuit that should favour the Honda Civic Type R.

For Fife racer Rory, the Knockhill weekend will be the biggest of the season by far as the 32-year-old prepares to make his third BTCC appearance at the circuit owned by his father Derek.

Rory secured a hat-trick of top ten finishes last year at the wheel of an MG6 GT and will hope to use his local knowledge to return to the kind of form that has seen him secure 14 top ten finishes already this season.

Despite a difficult weekend at Thruxton that saw him log his first DNF of the year, the Scottish star remains well placed in the overall and Independents’ standings going into his home round, and also continues to head the Jack Sears Trophy for those drivers who hadn’t taken an overall podium before the season started.

Leeds-based team-mate Sam will not make the trip to Scotland however, after his new-born son Arlo passed away last weekend at just five days old.

The news has devastated the entire Cobra Sport AmD team, who will be racing this weekend at Knockhill with Sam, Georgina and the whole Tordoff family at the forefront of their minds.

With the blessing of the Tordoff family, double Clio Cup UK champion Mike Bushell will return to action in the second Honda this weekend, having spent the 2019 season in the role of lead engineer on Rory’s car.

The 30-year-old made his debut in the series at Knockhill back in 2013 in a one-off drive in a Chevrolet Cruze, and has since gone on to start 59 BTCC races – with a best finish of fifth at Brands Hatch last season.

Mike – who will run his regular #21 – will look to support Rory in his championship challenge, and also hope to battle for points in his first outing in the series since the 2018 season finale.

Shaun Hollamby, Cobra Sport AmD with AutoAid/RCIB Insurance Racing team principal, said:
“It goes without saying that our thoughts going into this weekend are very much with Sam, his wife Georgina, and the whole Tordoff family following their tragic news. There is nothing that is more important than family, and we will be racing this weekend in Arlo’s memory. Our heads are focused on the job at hand, but our hearts will very much be with Sam and his family.

“As Rory’s home event, this is a big weekend for the team and we’re expecting to get a lot of support from the local fans. Hopefully that support can help Rory to secure some strong results, and we’re sure that Mike will also do a good job in what are difficult circumstances for him to make his return to the series.”

Rory Butcher, #6 Cobra Sport AmD with AutoAid/RCIB Insurance Racing Honda Civic Type R, said:
“This will be the third time I’ve raced at home in the BTCC, but the first time where I have really had the package underneath me to fight towards the front of the grid.

“I know more than anyone that Knockhill is a very quirky circuit where you need a car that is working well underneath you. History says that we’ll have that with the Honda, but we can’t be complacent and know that we need to work hard on Saturday to qualify well and try to set ourselves up for a strong race day. Hopefully the support of the home fans will also help push me on to some good results.

“However, whilst there is the excitement that comes from my home event, I’ve been left deeply saddened by the news from Sam and Georgina in recent days. As a team, we are all very close and what has happened puts everything into perspective. This weekend, both Mike and I will be racing for them, and will be giving our all to do them proud.”

Mike Bushell, #21 Cobra Sport AmD with AutoAid/RCIB Insurance Racing Honda Civic Type R, said:
“Whilst it is lovely that the Tordoff family are trusting me to step into the car this weekend, it is absolutely devastating that the opportunity to get back behind the wheel has come along in these circumstances. I will be going out on track to race for Sam and his family 100 per cent this weekend, and any results are for them and for Arlo.

“I’m not going to set any expectations because I haven’t been in a BTCC car since February and I’ll also have to carry extra weight into the weekend; I just want to go out on track and do the most professional job that I can do in the circumstances. My priority is on Rory and his championship challenge and I’ll do all I can to help him, and it would be good if I could score some points for the team at the same time.

“I need to see how the car feels when we hit the track in FP1, and then just take each lap as it comes from there.”

Thanks to Dickon Siddall for the photo!

Mike Bushell to substitute for Sam Tordoff at Knockhill

Mike Bushell Stand In at Knockhill

Experienced racer Mike Bushell will return to the Kwik Fit British Touring Car Championship this weekend with the Cobra Sport AmD with AutoAid/RCIB Insurance Racing team.

Mike, a two-time winner of the Renault Clio Cup, will be at the wheel of the Honda Civic Type-R usually raced by multiple race winner Sam Tordoff, who will miss the Knockhill race meeting following the tragic passing of his newborn son, Arlo.

The decision to put Mike in the car for the Scottish event has been made with the full agreement of Sam and the Tordoff family, with the 30-year-old seen as the natural choice to take up the drive.

Mike made his BTCC debut at Knockhill back in 2013 and has been working with the team this season as race engineer on the sister Honda of Rory Butcher, and also raced for AmD Tuning for a full season back in 2015.

“Sam and the Tordoff family saw Mike as a natural choice,” team boss Shaun Hollamby said.

“The whole team has made huge steps forward this season, and Sam has been integral in pushing the team forward over the last ten months.

“Without Sam’s strong work ethic and determination, the team wouldn’t have been in the strong position that we are currently in. Mike was his first choice as substitute driver, having worked together throughout the season.

“There is no pressure on Mike in terms of results and the priority this weekend is to show full respect to Sam, Georgina and the Tordoff family at this difficult time.”

Thanks for the pic to LAP – Laborne Action Photography.