THE AmDTuning.com team enjoyed a solid end to the 2015 Dunlop MSA British Touring Car Championship season at Brands Hatch, with a pair of points scoring finishes from the final meeting of the campaign.
Mike Bushell brought his Ford Focus home inside the top 15 in two of the three races to cap a solid end to his first full season in the championship, whilst BRDC Rising Star Jake Hill showed impressive pace in the team’s Audi S3 after being given an eleventh-hour call-up for his home event.
After a solid run through free practice, Mike qualified 20th on the grid in a tightly fought qualifying session, with his best time being just 1.2 seconds away from pole.
An impressive start to the opening race saw Mike avoid trouble elsewhere to make up seven places and he would remain in 13th place right through the finish, although running in traffic hampered his chances of setting a quick lap time to determine his starting slot for race two.
From 22nd on the grid, Mike again made up places early on and ran as high as 16th before taking the flag in 18th, which is where he would then line-up for the final race of the campaign.
Ending his year on a high, Mike took the chequered flag in 14th spot in race three as best placed of the rookie drivers, with an impressive haul of 54 points for the second successive meeting allowing him to take second place in the Jack Sears Trophy.
Having not driven the Audi before the weekend, Jake’s weekend started in difficult fashion with a trip off track in the opening practice session but he fought back well to qualify 23rd; little more then a tenth of a second behind Mike.
Like Mike, Jake made up places on the opening lap of race one to sit just outside the points scoring positions before crossing the line in 17th place, and he looked set to better that result in race two before being forced across the grass at Hawthorne while battling for position with Jeff Smith.
That left Jake to finish in 18th spot, although his weekend would end on a low when he was tipped into a spin at Druids on the opening lap of race three.
Sadly, contact with the already stricken Toyota of Tom Ingram would be enough to force Jake into retirement; with the incident preventing him from building on an encouraging showing on his first outing in the series for two years.
Mike Bushell – #21 Ford Focus said: “It certainly hasn’t been an easy season, but I’m pleased to have ended it with a solid weekend and I’m happy with a run of four points finishes from the final six races. This weekend in particular has been great, and to be battling with people like Colin Turkington, Gordon Shedden and Alain Menu has been fantastic.
“I’ve learned a lot this season and I think there is certainly more to come from me in touring cars. The car hasn’t been quite where we wanted it to be, but we’ve made progress, have kept fighting and I’ve completed my first full year in the BTCC having questioned at one point if I’d even make it onto the grid through illness.
“My focus now is on 2016 and I’d love to stay with the team and try to build on what we have achieved this season. Everyone involved with AmDTuning.com has done me proud this year and I want to thank every single one of them for it.”
Jake Hill – #29 Audi S3:
“After the incident in FP1, I think it went really well this weekend. Considering I’d had no time in the car before arriving at Brands Hatch, I think I showed good potential and it’s clear that the Audi is going to be a strong package next season.
“I was happy with the result in race one and in race two, I’d managed to get into the points scoring positions before being forced off by Jeff Smith, but that’s just the way it is sometimes.
“It looked good for race three but unfortunately I got a punt up the rear on the run to Druids which, added to cold rear tyres, meant I was tipped sideways. Normally it wouldn’t have been a problem but unfortunately Tom had already had his own spin and that was the end of it.
“Hopefully I’ve put on a good show this weekend and want to thank the team again for the opportunity to drive the car. I’ve got to work now to try and put together a deal for next year and would love the chance to come back and have a proper crack at touring cars with the Audi next year.”
Shaun Hollamby – team principal:
“It’s been a good way to end the season for Mike, even if he fell just short of ending it with a Jack Sears Trophy to his name. He showed good pace throughout the weekend and I think he has learned a lot over the course of the season to build his experience of racing a touring car.
“Jake did exactly what we knew he could do despite his lack of time in the car and his pace was also strong. In that third race, he could easily have brought home a top 15 finish and it was no fault of his that it ended in the way it did.
“Overall, it’s been a season that has been mixed in terms of results, but we have been able to learn a lot in respect of our expansion to a two car team. Team manager Rob Tickner and the boys have done a fantastic job and it is thanks to their hard work that it was possible for us to run a second car. Now the hard work starts on planning for 2016 and who knows, maybe we could expand even further…”