Top Kwik Fit British Touring Car Championship team Car Gods with Ciceley Motorsport left Croft frustrated on Sunday after a weekend of dramas prevented the squad from showing what it is truly capable of.
Drivers Adam Morgan and George Gamble headed to the North Yorkshire circuit in confident mood as Croft is normally regarded as a rear-wheel drive circuit and that would play to the strengths of their BMW 330 e M Sports. After two productive free practice sessions, the pair went into qualifying ready to shoot for the front of the grid. However, there was instant drama when Adam slid off into the gravel and stopped the session, his car beached in the turn one gravel.
“It was entirely my fault,” admitted Adam who had arrived at Croft in a helicopter after two days of work at Goodwood for Kwik Fit. “I left-foot braked and was a bit keen. I was able to carry on in qualifying but the penalty for causing the stoppage was that I lost my best lap time.”
That condemned Adam to 17th on the grid, while teammate George impressed on is first race at Croft for three years by taking ninth on the grid.
In blustery conditions on race day, the Car Gods backed cars charged into battle with George running comfortably in the top 10 but Adam was in strife early on when Jason Plato’s Honda Civic tried a pass at the Esses, the fastest part of the circuit, and turned Adam sideways. In the resulting slide, Adam dropped to the rear of the field and had to start his fightback all over again.
“I’m gutted,” said Adam. “It was deemed a racing incident but that's the second weekend in a row where the day has been ruined by contact in the first race.” Adam hauled the Car Gods with Ciceley Motorsport BMW home in 19th place.
George did a great job of hanging on to ninth place, his efforts more meritorious given that his hybrid system failed during the race and needed replacing for race two.
For the second 15-lap race, George started ninth and Adam 19th but George was the one to suffer misfortune this time when a throttle body failed meaning that his engine started to misfire and then stopped. Retirement meant that he would start at the rear of the grid for race three, whilst Adam battled his way up from 19th on the grid to 15th, just inside the points. “That was really hard work,” Adam reported. “It was so hard to make progress because I got stuck behind Jason (Plato) who was defending heavily but was much slower. I made a good start and once I was clear of Jason I caught people, but the cars are so evenly matched now, it shows how important qualifying is.”
George was disappointed as well. “I’d been looking for a good result in race three, running in the top group and then trying to benefit on the reverse grid draw which we where well on course for, but it wasn’t to be. My pace was really strong before the gremlins struck so that is something positive to take away from the weekend at least.”
From 26th, George slogged his way to 19th, while Adam secured 10th from 15th on the grid to round out a tough day.
“It’s been a character building,” smiled Adam. “I hate myself for the mistake in qualifying because that affects the whole day, but we will bounce back at Knockhill.”
Ciceley Motorsport’s Commercial Director Ash Gallagher said: “You get these weekends occasionally but it doesn’t make them any less hard to take. Everyone worked so hard on George’s car, firstly on the hybrid system and then on identifying and rectifying the throttle body issue, but it just wasn’t his day and Adam has been beating himself up since qualifying. All our hospitality guests saw first hand the ups and downs of motor racing, but really got behind Adam and George and cheered them on. Two top tens isn’t what we set out to achieve but proves that we have the pace to challenge.”
The championship now takes its summer break before heading to Knockhill, Scotland, on July 30/31. Adam lies ninth in the Drivers Championship with George 14th, whilst the pair are second and fourth in the Independent Drivers standings. George is also second in the Jack Sears Trophy for drivers who hadn’t scored an overall podium prior to the season starting. Car Gods with Ciceley Motorsport lies sixth in the Teams’ Championship and second in the Independent Teams’ standings at the halfway point of the season.
The next races in the Kwik Fit British Touring Car Championship will be at Knockhill on July 30/31, with qualifying shown live on itv.com on Saturday and the race action broadcast on ITV4 on Sunday.