Accrington-based Kwik Fit British Touring Car Championship race driver Adam Morgan had a dramatic weekend at Brands Hatch in his Carlube Triple R Racing Mercedes-Benz A-Class, with his final race being halted by first lap contact.
Adam’s Ciceley Motorsport-run Mercedes-Benz began the weekend with eighth best time in the opening free practice session, in a car that was a little looser than Adam wished for.
“We identified the set-up issue early on, but it would have taken a chunk of time to change it so we used the session to gain track time and then make the changes between sessions. It worked, because with the car stiffer, I went fourth fastest in the second session.”
With the car now performing well, Adam was confident going into qualifying, but never managed to get a clear lap and was stuck in traffic for the most part that led to the Ribchester Rocket qualifying 13th for the opening race.
“That was disappointing. The car felt really good after FP2 but it just never fell right for us in qualifying. I can focus on making progress in race one, though, because the car always goes well here and with 12 kilos of championship ballast, we shouldn’t suffer too much.”
Raceday was very hot and Adam and engineer Steve Farrell decided to soften the car to make it compliant, but perhaps went a little too soft and hence the car was conservative on pace. After a late-race safety car period, race leader Rory Butcher’s Ford Focus suffered a puncture and delayed those behind as they had to scramble around the slowing car. That cost Adam a chance to gain positions, but he fought back over the remaining laps to take 11th place.
“It should have been better than that,” Adam felt post-race. “I’d made progress but when Rory had his puncture and went off, it was pot luck as to where you were when he re-joined. He just got in my way and I was badly delayed, so I should have had P9 I reckon.”
Adam started the second race from 11th on the grid, now running without success ballast in the Carlube Triple R Racing Mercedes-Benz A-Class. On a more aggressive set-up, the car had much better pace, allowing Adam to move up the order, working his way to 10th before a safety car period.
“As soon as the safety car peeled in I said, ‘Right, let’s go … Our average pace was really good and I was happy to be fighting in the leading group.”
Adam finished sixth for a decent haul of points and on the reverse grid for the final race he would start seventh, confident of a good result, despite 30 kilos of success ballast in the car. Sadly, it wasn’t to be as a collision at turn two led to mayhem with cars coming across the road and charging Adam on to the grass. With damaged steering, and an overheating engine, there was no option but to retire from the race.
“We’d done some more set-up changes and the car felt really good, but I was in the wrong place at the wrong time. Cars had collided ahead of me and then came across the road. The steering was damaged, my brakes were going, the car was overheating…. I decided it was better to park the car than risk anything worse happening. I’m really disappointed.
“The positives are that the pace was good in race two, the car felt good and with Steve Farrell on board we have really good processes to work through and a sound methodology to understand what we want and how to achieve it. I just need a bit more qualifying pace which gets you out of the mid-grid danger zone in race one and that is just a tenth of a second which can make all the difference.”
Adam remains ninth in the championship, meaning that he will again carry six kilos of weight for the next race at Oulton Park.
Ciceley Motorsport’s Commercial Director Norman Burgess said: “Once again, we’ve had the highs and lows of motor racing today. To see Adam fighting through the field in race two was a real boost for the team, and it was great to see all the hard work put in by everyone in the team being reflected in the pace of the car. Then, to have race three hopes dashed by someone else’s accident was gutting, but we have shown that the car is more competitive this season than last and we are confident of taking another step forward at Oulton Park for our home race.” Norman continued “It’s fantastic to see Adam fighting at the front and Jack improving with every lap. Despite the current global situation, our new Title Sponsors Carlube Triple R, have supported us ardently and financially throughout this difficult period and it’s rewarding for us to be able to repay their faith, in Adam, Jack and the Ciceley Motorsport team”
The second Carlube Triple R Racing Mercedes-Benz A-Class of Jack Butel had a great weekend as well, as BTCC rookie Jack scored a point finish in the third race after securing 14th place in only his sixth touring car race.
“I never thought I’d score points so soon! To take 14th place in just my sixth race in a car like this, so different from anything else I’ve raced, is just amazing and each time I get in the car I feel happier and more confident so I never want to get out of it! It’s a massive learning curve, yes, but I am loving the BTCC and really pleased with the progress I’m making each time out.”
The next stop for the Kwik Fit British Touring Car Championship is Ciceley Motorsport’s home circuit of Oulton Park, Cheshire, on August 22/23. Qualifying will be shown live on itv.com on Saturday with all the raceday action live on ITV4 on Sunday August 23rd.