THE AmDTuning.com team showed a glimpse of its potential on what proved to be a challenging start to the 2016 Dunlop MSA British Touring Car Championship at Brands Hatch.
The West Thurrock-based team went into the season opener hoping to challenge for points finishes, with driver Ollie Jackson making his first appearance at the wheel of the team’s striking Audi S3.
Finding pace throughout Saturday’s on-track action, Tamworth-based Ollie qualified an encouraging 20th on the capacity grid for the first race of the weekend, with his fastest lap being just four tenths of a second away from the top ten.
In an action-packed and frenetic season opener, Ollie appeared set to celebrate his return to the team with a top 15 finish but a stub axle failure whilst running inside the points saw him forced to head for the pits.
Unfortunate contact with one of his rivals as he tried to bring the stricken Audi into pitlane resulted in additional damage that the team worked hard to repair before Ollie took his place on the grid for race two.
Both Ollie and the team were optimistic on building on the pace shown earlier in the day when the lights went out, but an issue with one of his soft compound Dunlop tyres prevented him from climbing higher than 23rd place.
Stuck in traffic throughout the final race of the weekend, Ollie crossed the line in 22nd, but remained upbeat about the potential of the Audi.
"Bad luck seemed to follow us today, which was unfortunate as I think we showed glimpses of the potential that we have in the car," he said. "We were putting in a really competitive performance in the opening race of the day and there is no doubt that we were on to start the season with some points before the problem with the car. It was just unfortunate that as I went to enter the pits, someone else tried to make a move up the inside.
"The guys did a great job to repair the car for race two but Brands Hatch is a circuit where track position is key and it was always going to be difficult in races two and three. We had a bit of an issue on the soft tyre that affected race two and then race three it was a case of just doing what we could in the middle of the pack.
"Although points would have been nice, there is plenty we can take away from the weekend."
For team boss Shaun Hollamby, the season opener proved to be a case of ‘what might have been’, although he too insisted there were plenty of positives to take away from the first round of the year.
"Race one was looking really good and Ollie was doing a great job on track before damage from the earlier contact caused a front suspension failure," he said. "Had we managed to end that race where we should have done, then it would have been a totally different story as the car had the pace – we just weren’t able to show it in the second and third races.
"This is certainly one of the those weekends where the end results don’t reflect how things have gone but we have to put the misfortune behind us and focus on the next round at Donington Park."