Martyn Bell enjoyed one of his most successful weekends of the 2008 HiQ MSA British Touring Car Championship season to date with a brace of Independents' points finishes at Oulton Park.
Although unable to force his way into the top ten for the first time this season, the Arkas Racing with Sunshine.co.uk driver picked up five points towards his own Independents' championship tally, while his performances over the course of the weekend were also rewarded with a hat-trick of Independents' points scores for the Tech-speed run team.
With team-mate Erkut missing the weekend due to business commitments back in Turkey, Bell was left to fly the flag for the team at the wheel of his Vauxhall Astra Sport Hatch and qualified in 21st place on the grid for race one, having lost time on his fastest lap behind the SEAT of Chris Stockton.
After finishing the opening race in a lonely 18th place, improvements to the car allowed Bell to make his way up the order in race two until he found himself battling for 13th place with Stockton's SEAT. Despite lapping quicker than the car ahead, Bell was unable to find a way through - but on the final lap he made a move stick to secure the position and eighth amongst the Independent runners.
A fine start in race three saw Bell make up places off the line but he then lost out when Tom Chilton hit Steven Kane at Hislops – with all the cars behind forced to take avoiding action to miss the stricken pair. Unfortunately, Bell was forced to run wide across the grass and slipped back down the order but after a Safety Car period, he was able to come home to the finish in 14th place, adding another two Independents' points to his tally in the process.
“I've learnt a lot about the car during the season so far and in qualifying I was on for a really good lap before I got held up by Chris Stockton,” he explained. “We made some changes to the car ahead of the first race but it wasn't quite the right way to go and I focused on just bringing the car home.
“We made a few improvements for race two and the car was a lot better, but I found myself stuck behind Stockton. We were about level through the first sector of the lap, but then I was quicker than him in sector two and three. If I'd managed to get past him a couple of laps earlier, I could have had a go at trying to close in on Harry Vaulkhard for twelfth.
“In my head, I was on for a top ten finish in the final race and I got a really good start to make up some places, but then Tom Chilton had a blonde moment and everyone had to run off the track to avoid him and Steven Kane. I had to go to the outside while quite a few others took a shortcut across the inside and it meant I dropped back. It's a shame as I feel I could have kept up with the pack, but overall I'm happy with how the weekend went.”
Bell now heads north of the border to Scotland in three weeks time for the eighth round of the year at Knockhill, a circuit where he has gone well in the past two seasons.
“I wanted some overall points at Oulton, and although we didn't get them, it was good to get three solid finishes after what happened at Snetterton,” he said. “I have a lot more confidence in the car now and next up we go to Knockhill, which is a circuit I really like.
“In fact, I like all the circuits that are left on the calendar and I'm confident that I can pick up some overall championship points from the final nine races.”