Motorsport News - Touring
Frustrating Weekend At Croft For BTCC Racer Bratt
26th June 2012
Dunlop MSA British Touring Car Championship racer Will Bratt endured a challenging outing at Croft in North Yorkshire over the weekend, 23rd/24th June, with a series of problems throughout the event preventing the relative category newcomer from showing his true pace.
Although pleased to secure a richly deserved ninth place finish in Sunday’s opening race with an excellent drive from 20th on the grid at the wheel of his Rob Austin Racing Audi A4, the 24-year-old suffered a puncture in race two and battery problem in race three to compound a tough weekend.
Qualifying was where the troubles began for Will with serious handling issues preventing him from lapping anywhere close to his potential. Fighting just to keep his car on the track, the result of an issue with the springs and dampers, he ended the run with an uncharacteristic 21st fastest time.
“We expected the car to be ok”, said Will, “For half a lap it would feel alright but then it started to really slide around and the back was constantly swinging out. I had to work hard just to keep it on the track – it was like driving a rally car. As soon as I’d load it up for a corner, the back wanted to come round straight away.”
Prior to the opening race, a problem on the out lap to the grid for double champion Jason Plato meant Will would start an improved 20th and he put together an impressive opening lap. Avoiding a mid-pack tangle immediately off the start line, the Banbury racer climbed into 16th prior to a Safety Car period at the beginning of lap two.
After the resumption on lap five, Will made further gains and by lap 14 he had broken into the coveted top 10. With the damper issues resolved on his Audi, Will continued his strong progress and rapidly closed down Aron Smith’s Ford Focus which he passed for ninth on the penultimate tour, sixth in the Independents Trophy classification.
Anticipating a similarly strong run in race two, Will held ninth initially but noticed something amiss with the feel of the car. Gradually slipping back down the order, it soon became clear he’d picked up a slow puncture and on lap seven he was forced to pit. On returning to the track, albeit a lap down, the Oxon driver’s pace was strong and matched that of the works Honda Civics in first and second.
Having to start race three from 18th on the grid – his finishing position in the second encounter – Will made an excellent getaway and climbed into 14th prior to the appearance of the Safety Car. Making a good re-start on lap three, he soon grabbed another place and held 13th until lap 12 when he lost all power and coasted to a halt in the pits with a flat battery.
“It’s been a really unlucky weekend”, said Will, “Qualifying set the tone really, we went the wrong way with the springs on the front so we had a tall order in the races. The first one went quite well and in race two, once we got over the puncture, the car worked well and I was matching the Hondas of [Matt] Neal and [Gordon] Shedden.
“We’re hoping to be back in the car at Snetterton after the break, we’ll just have to see what comes up with the sponsorship – thanks to DUO for their support this weekend. The Audi’s got potential, as Rob [Austin – team principal and team-mate] showed in race two with his podium, and I know I’m capable of being right up there at the front.”
Following a seven week summer hiatus, the second half of the Dunlop MSA British Touring Car Championship season will resume on 11th/12th August at Snetterton 300 Circuit in Norfolk.
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