After a difficult start to his maiden season in the HiQ MSA British Touring Car Championship, Michael Doyle was able to celebrate his first points scoring finish at Croft on what turned out to be another trying weekend for the In-Tune Racing man.

Following a disappointing weekend at Thruxton, where he was forced out of two races with an engine issue, the young Scot headed to Croft looking to end the first half of the season with three solid results at the wheel of his BTC-specification Honda Civic Type-R.

The weekend didn't start well for the 20-year-old as he was late taking to the track in first practice because of a radiator leak on the car, but he was able to qualify inside the top twenty after posting the 19th fastest time in qualifying.

Heavy rain on race day played into Doyle's hands and he quickly climbed up to 13th place when the first race kicked off in treacherous conditions. The race was stopped following an accident on lap three and Doyle lined up 14th for the restart, climbing up to tenth in the opening half a lap and then taking ninth from Harry Vaulkhard at Sunny In before the first lap was run. With another accident at Tower and conditions getting worse, the race was then stopped and a result declared - giving Doyle his maiden outright points of the year.

Doyle held ninth after the opening lap of race two, which was again held in wet conditions, but a gearbox problem forced him to run off track on lap two and although he managed to rejoin the track, would then force him to retire from the race while also missing race three.

"It was the same as usual - starts well and then doesn't finish!" he told Crash.net. "We had a lot of problems with set-up on Saturday but we made some changes and were confident going into race day if it was dry - and then it rained. That put the plans out of the window but I wasn't too sad to see the rain as we were strong in the wet at Rockingham. At the start of the race from 19th on the grid, the track was horrendous. There were rivers everywhere and people were making mistakes but we managed to take ninth place. We didn't know if it would be classified at first with the race being shortened, but a finish is a finish and to get some points is a good boost.

"We started ninth in race two and I managed to pass Adam Jones at Clervaux round the outside and tried to get Mike Jordan going into the Chicane but I couldn't make the move and followed him through. Adam passed me out of Tower and then on the next lap, I came up towards Tower and went to change down the gears from sixth to third and the gears got stuck between sixth and fifth, so I couldn't slow down enough. Off into the field I went, but I came on at the back although the gear changes got worse so we came in to retire. Unfortunately we couldn't get it sorted in time for race three."

Having been forced to contend with a number of mechanical issues with the car, and the loss of a number of his mechanics prior to the Thruxton round, Doyle admitted that the season to date had been far from easy for his small team and if anything, had been more of a challenge than expected going into his first year of BTCC competition.

"We knew it would be hard, but didn't realise it would be as hard as it hard been," he reflected. "We are the smallest team with the smallest budget, we have either the oldest or second oldest car behind Jason Hughes' MG and it is exceptionally hard. I'm not getting to concentrate on driving the car and I don't think it is right up there in a position to be able to fight at the front, but I don't think it is doing me any favours as all people see is me at the back all the time.

"We only have a skeleton staff back home and my dad does all the mechanical stuff so when we come to the meetings, we do the final preparation and are out on track. We don't have anyone who has worked on the car before which is difficult as when I come in and say 'I'm experiencing this or that', we don't know how to rectify it and miss the experience of someone who can say what we need to do. We are always chasing our tails and this weekend we were all organised and ready for the event and then had two blow-outs on the truck - that is the kind of luck we have. If it wasn't for bad luck, we wouldn't have any at all!"

Doyle now heads into the mid-season break looking to attract extra sponsorship to help him move forwards during the remainder of the campaign and will also work hard on improving his car ahead of the resumption of racing at Snetterton next month.

"We have another shell that we are going to change into, as we aren't sure that the shell we are in is 100 per cent," he said. "We will spend the time doing that before the two day test at Snetterton, where we will use one day as a shakedown and one as a proper test day. Hopefully we can go to Snetterton for the race weekend and maybe qualify in the top 15 rather than at the back, but we'll have to see how we get on and keep plugging away at it."

 

Comments

Loading Comments...