We were back on the road with the Car Gods VW this weekend, as the Kwik Fit British Touring Car Championship season dropped the flag on the 2022 calendar down at Donington Park.
After a first season in the then-new BMW i330, using 10 race weekends to find their feet with the rear-wheel tourer, the boys over at Ciceley had been working tirelessly to get both Beamers competitive and fighting fit for the first lights out of 2022, and boy did they deliver!
It was the start of a new era for everybody in the team as well as the whole BTCC championship, with the introduction of both rear-wheel sensation George Gamble to Team Car Gods with Ciceley Motorsport to fight alongside Ciceley stalwart Adam Morgan, and the brand-new Cosworth-manufactured hybrid unit for every car on the grid.
After a short drive down to the Derby based racetrack, the sun came out late on Friday afternoon with the stand set-up complete and ready for a weekend of touring car action!
With an early start for everybody on Saturday, the racing kicked-off with two free-practice sessions that allowed the team to work out any minor hiccups, with both the boys coming away feeling confident for the all-important first qualifying session of the 2022 BTCC season.
Qualifying came around and the boys were flying, with George in his maiden BTCC qualifying session finishing FIFTH, one place above 3-time BTCC champion Gordon Shedden, and only 0.2 seconds from pole-sitter Jake Hill. Adam finished qualifying in 8th, which was just as impressive seen as he had a fuel pump issue!
With optimism flowing around the Car Gods with Ciceley paddock, the cars left their stations to join the grid for the first ever BTCC round with hybrid technology – a truly historic moment in British motorsport.
After a frantic start to the first race of the season, the leaders tripped over themselves and delayed each other, allowing Adam to catch the leading group to finish fifth while George’s BTCC debut resulted in sixth place finish after a hugely impressive drive. The Car Gods with Ciceley Motorsport BMW 330e M Sports also took a one-two finish in the Independents’ class which was another boost to the squad. Just when we thought this was the dream first round, the weekend was only just getting started for the team!
The cars lined up fifth and sixth for race two, but Adam was in strife even before the race started, as a tooth had worked loose in the transmission in race one which prevented the engagement with the brand-new hybrid system. With no spares available, he had to complete the remaining two races without the extra power available to everyone else. The lads in the paddock have to be commended to even get Adam on the grid for the second race.
Even without the extra power from the hybrid system, Adam battled to a remarkable fourth place. Even more remarkable, George showed he wasn’t just a one-hit wonder as he bolted to second place on the run to the first corner and in the end claiming a 3rd place podium finish in what was only his second EVER BTCC race. A special moment that everybody involved with the team will remember for a long time to come.
“I didn’t think it could get better than race one,” said George, “but I made a good start and had Adam behind me to protect me from the pack. It feels amazing!”
Now, it would’ve been a bit greedy to ask for more, and the race gods could see that as well for race three. George was penalised with a drive-through penalty for jumping the start and finished 20th even after coming out of the pitlane after the penalty in 27th. Adam ‘Mr. Consistent’ Morgan showed just why he’s one of the best drivers on the grid and finished in 6th, once again without the hybrid-power that the rest of the grid had!
With a 3rd place finish, 4th place finish, two 5th place finishes and 6th place to round off the weekend, it leaves Car Gods with Ciceley Motorsport 2nd in the team standings after rounds 1, 2 and 3. A truly remarkable feat from a team with a rookie on his debut weekend and a driver without any hybrid-power for two and a half races.
Car Gods with Ciceley Motorsport’s new Commercial Manager Ash Gallagher was delighted with the results: “We have had an absolutely fantastic weekend. Two Independent wins are a great boost and so is the fact that the cars were so solid on pace in all three races. We are all thrilled for George getting his first podium in only his second BTCC race, while Adam’s results without hybrid show how good his racecraft is and how well engineered our BMW 330e M Sports are. Steve Farrell and the team have worked really hard over the winter and the whole team, as well as our commercial partners, are buzzing about the weekend. We can’t wait for Brands Hatch!”
The Donington results put Adam 5th and George 9th in the championship standings, whilst Adam leads the Independents’ Trophy with George 3rd and Car Gods with Ciceley Motorsport the leading Independent team.