Sunday, December 10, 2023

Motor Sport: High hopes for AmD at Knockhill

THE AmD with Cobra Exhausts team will hope to add to its recent run of points scoring finishes when the Dunlop MSA British Touring Car Championship heads for Knockhill for the eighth meeting of the year.

The West Thurrock-based team has secured points in three of the last four races going into the Scottish race weekend, with Ollie Jackson having picked up his third top ten finish of the year last time out at Rockingham.

Tamworth-based Ollie has now picked up points on nine occasions in 2018 at the wheel of his Audi S3 and has already beaten his previous best season score since returning to the AmD fold back in 2016.

Knockhill hasn’t been the kindest circuit to Ollie in the past and he goes into the weekend looking to score points with the Audi for the first time; his previous best finish in the car being 19th.

Ollie will seek to benefit from working alongside local driver Rory Butcher, driver of one of AmD’s two MG6 GTs, over the course of the weekend with his aim being to try and push towards a first Knockhill top ten.

Such a result would go some way towards helping Ollie to surpass the 61 points he scored during his best season in the series to date in 2012 – a total he is currently just seven points away from.

Rookie team-mate Sam Smelt looked well set to push for a maiden points finish in the series last time out at Rockingham after a personal best performance in qualifying, but luck would be against him on race day as incidents in two of the three races instead saw him fail to trouble the scorers.

Although this weekend will mark his first outing at the short and challenging circuit in a front-wheel drive touring car, Sam completed plenty of laps at Knockhill last year whilst competing in British F4 and secured his first top ten finish in the series in the opening race of the weekend.

The Northampton racer will aim to try and replicate his strong qualifying performance of two weeks ago to given him the best possible chance of opening his points account, with at least one top 15 finish being his main aim.

Ollie Jackson, #43 AmD with Cobra Exhausts Audi S3, said:
“Knockhill is one of those circuits where it is hard to make too many predictions as you never know what to expect. It isn’t somewhere that has been kind to us in recent years but hopefully we can benefit from having Rory as part of the team this weekend and put on a stronger showing.

“A lot of work has gone into the Audi in the last twelve months and the greater understanding we have of the car will be the biggest benefit for us. We know how to make it ride the kerbs better for example, which is key to getting a good lap time at Knockhill, and we are also strong off the corners which should help us out of some of the slower turns.

“Because the lap is so short, it is always very close at Knockhill and it will come down to tiny margins in qualifying. A decent result there will provide us with the chance to try and stay out of trouble when the lights go out and will hopefully set us up for the races.”

Sam Smelt, #21 AmD with Cobra Exhausts Audi S3, said:
“I’m hoping that when we get to Knockhill, I’ll be able to hit the ground running as I did at Rockingham. It’s a circuit that I enjoyed last year whilst racing in F4 and one that has good memories, as it was where I broke into the points for the first time.

“While it will be a totally different challenge in the touring car, I’m confident that we can show strong pace like we did last time out and my focus is going to be on qualifying well so that we are in a good position going into race day. Hopefully then, the results will follow on Sunday and I’ll be able to push for some strong finishes – and hopefully get myself into the points for the first time.”

Shaun Hollamby, AmD with Cobra Exhausts team principal, said:
“Although Knockhill hasn’t been kind to us with the Audi in the past, we go there optimistic about what we can achieve on track, with points being the target for both drivers.

“Both Ollie and Sam have shown improved pace throughout the season, and in Ollie’s case, there is no reason now why he can’t go into every weekend feeling confident of pushing for points. He showed at Rockingham that he can fight with the top drivers on track and this weekend will hopefully be no different.

“Sam was unlucky not to be able to score his first points last time out but Knockhill is a circuit he knows and where he got quite a bit of track time last year so that should help him going into the weekend and it would be great if he was able to open his account.”


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