Morgan makes mighty start to his BTCC campaign
In his Mac Tools with Ciceley Motorsport Mercedes-Benz A-Class, Adam started the weekend with two solid lap times from the free practice sessions before the serious business of qualifying began. With 32 cars looking for space on the 1.2-mile Brands Hatch Indy circuit, finding a clear lap wasn’t easy but Adam ended the 30-minute period 13th.
“The car feels great but we are only two-tenths away from pole, but because it is so tight, those two tenths make a big difference. We’ll have a look and see what we can do for tomorrow but we are quicker than we were here last year so we have definitely made progress.”
Adam started the opening race 13th on the grid, but the wet track that greeted the teams was a concern to The Morganator. “We’ve struggled in the past for a good set-up in the wet, but we have a new one this year and it worked really well, the front end of the car especially.”
That new set-up for the wet allowed Adam to leap up the order, ending the opening lap 10th and then he set off in pursuit of more glory. After an early safety car period, he passed Chris Smiley’s Honda Civic and James Cole’s Ford Focus, with Dan Cammish’s Honda Civic and reigning champion Ash Sutton (Subaru Levorg) falling victim to Adam before the chequered flag. Sixth was Adam’s reward.
“The car felt great and it is so encouraging that we finally have a good wet set-up. That puts us in a good position for the season because before, rain was our Achilles’ heel.”
Race two was held on a wet-but-drying track, and while many drivers at the rear of the grid with nothing to lose opted to gamble on slick tyres, Adam felt that he needed to do what his rivals were doing nearer the front of the grid. “I couldn’t risk slicks, so we went for wets and just had to look after them. They were OK for the first nine laps, but then they started to wear out and it was about nursing the car home.”
Sixth at the end of the opening tour, Adam then started to fall away mid-race as his wet tyres overheated and lost their grip, the car behaving differently as the grip level disappeared. Adam battle home in 13th, grabbing points but missing out on the important top 12 reverse grid draw.
Starting 13th on the grid for the final race, Adam turned in one of the drives of the day, storming from the seventh row to a stunning second place! Adam ended the opening lap in 11th spot and never gave up, catching and passing cars on every lap as he fought his way into the top three, with his next target being the new Alfa Romeo Giulietta of Rob Austin. Adam closed on to the tail Austin, who slightly outbraked himself and left a gap on the inside for Adam to take full advantage of.
“The car was on rails! I looked after the front tyres early on and the car felt good and then I started to close on people and I realised that I had much better pace than they had. I didn’t have any success ballast so I had a lighter car and that gave me an edge and I realised that I could catch the pack ahead. When I got up behind Rob he outbraked himself and left me a gap and I don’t need a second invitation to go for a gap!”
Second place was Adam’s reward, just three seconds behind race winner Tom Ingram.
Ciceley Motorsport’s Commercial Director Norman Burgess said: “That is a brilliant way to open our 2018 season. Adam showed racecraft that was the envy of his rivals and our Mac Tools backed Mercedes-Benz A-Class looked like it was on rails. Adam showed great maturity and composure in looking after his tyres and that proved to be the correct strategy as he stormed past the pack in race three. Our Mac Tools guests were treated to BTCC action at its best and three points finishes, including a second place, was a great way to reward their support. It was a fantastic start for our new sponsors Lunar Caravans and Pallex as well as Fuchs Lubricants who have kindly supported our team for the last 8 seasons. We can’t wait for Donington, where Mercedes won last year, and look forward to adding to our win strike and points tally in the championship.”
Adam’s superb opening weekend puts him third in the Dunlop MSA British Touring Car Championship and third in the Independents’ Championship, with Mac Tools with Ciceley Motorsport fifth in the Teams’ Championship.
The next stop on the Dunlop MSA British Touring Car Championship calendar is Donington Park on Aril 28/29, with live and exclusive coverage on ITV4.
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The British Touring Car Championship (BTCC) was formed in 1958 and is Britain's most popular motor racing spectacle. Its race season comprises ten events at top circuits across the UK. It is contested by professional racing drivers in competition versions of every day road cars, giving it tremendous public appeal. Some 325,000 watch the BTCC trackside each year. It is also receives widespread UK TV exposure on the ITV network with all ten race events broadcast live on ITV4, ITV4 HD and www.itv.com