THE AmDTuning.com team will hope to build on an impressive performance during testing at Snetterton last month when the Dunlop MSA British Touring Car Championship returns to the Norfolk circuit this weekend for the sixth round of the year.
The West Thurrock-based team showed top ten pace during a two-day Dunlop tyre test in late June, which marked the first real opportunity for driver Ollie Jackson to conduct any meaningful running away from the pressures of a race weekend – his only pre-season testing having come when he sampled the team’s Audi S3 for the first time during the annual season launch back in March.
That lack of testing has played a part in Ollie heading into the second half of the season with just two points finishes to his name, despite a number of encouraging drives during the opening five meetings of the year.
With valuable track time, and knowledge, under his belt following the test, Ollie makes the trip to Snetterton – a circuit he knows well from his time working at nearby Lotus Cars – in confident mood, with points being a realistic target to kick-start the second half of the year.
"I’d hoped to have more points on the board going into the second half of the season, but there is no doubt that we are going into this weekend in the best shape we have been all year," he said. "Our results haven’t reflected the progress we have been making with the Audi, but having come away from Croft before the summer break having really turned a corner, we benefitted no end from the track time during the Dunlop test last month.
"With Media Day having been the first time I’d driven the Audi, the test was the first real chance I’d had to do some meaningful running in the car away from a race weekend and we were able to try all the little things that it simply isn’t possible to do during a race meeting.
"Although it’s important to take testing times with a pinch of salt, the pace we showed on the first day in particular was really encouraging and showed what the Audi as a package is capable of. Snetterton is a circuit I know well, and is one that should be well suited to our car, so I go into the weekend feeling more confident than I have done at any point this season so far.
"I have no doubt that points are a realistic target and if we can get a strong score under our belt, it would be the perfect way to start the second half of the season."
This weekend’s Snetterton meeting will see a new addition to AmDTuning.com’s engineering team, with Keith Cheetham – who has spent this season looking after the team’s British GT programme – taking over the role of lead engineer on the Audi.
The addition of Keith’s vast expertise proved to be hugely beneficial to the team during the Snetterton test, with team boss Shaun Hollamby hopeful that the pace shown in the two-day session can now be replicated during the race weekend.
"The test at Snetterton went really well and we’re now looking to move forwards during the second half of the season," he said. "As a first real test of the year, we were able to have a proper look at a few things to see what worked and what didn’t, and we’re now looking forward to putting those changes into action.
"We’ve also spent recent weeks working on further improvements to the car, which include fitting a new Corbeau race seat that will save 9kg and, alongside Ollie’s ongoing fitness programme, takes us closer towards the weight limit.
"It’s also going to be good to start working with Keith on the BTCC programme after he agreed to engineer the Audi, as he brings a wealth of experience and expertise that will help us in our bid to regularly push for points finishes.
"He has done a great job this season with our GT3 BMW, and his work ethic and mindset fits in well with the pressures that come from running a touring car on a busy weekend. He fit in well with the touring car team during the test and it was good to get some input from a fresh set of eyes.
"I think this could be a really interesting weekend after the summer break, and everything points towards us being at our most competitive so far this season. From this point onwards, we want to be consistently challenging for points and I would be disappointed if we weren’t able to push towards the top ten before the end of the year."