Halfords Racing with Cataclean kicked off its 2021 British Touring Car Championship campaign with three top 10 finishes from drivers Dan Rowbottom and Gordon Shedden at Thruxton, Hampshire, at the weekend.
The newly-titled squad, operated by Team Dynamics, brings Scotsman Shedden back to the team with which he has won three BTCC titles and offers Rowbottom a perfect platform on which to showcase his ability in the BTCC.
Thruxton’s qualifying session was a lottery with a wet road drying out towards the end of the 30-minute session, meaning that the correct tyre choice at the optimum time was essential. Gordon qualified eighth, with Dan 16th, but hopes were high for a dry raceday.
The first 16-lap race of the season, shown live on ITV4, began with a bang as Gordon had to avoid a slowing Ollie Jackson (Ford Focus) on the opening lap, but as he did so he tangles with Chris Smiley’s Hyundai putting both out of the race at high speed. It meant a lot of damage was sustained by Flash’s Halfords Racing with Cataclean Honda Civic Type R and a lot of work for the Team Dynamics mechanics before race two. Dan, however, avoided all the dramas on the opening lap and in his first race for the team charged up to seventh place with some brave moves around the outside at the Chicane. Dan’s seventh place netted more points in one race than he had scored in his entire rookie season of 2019!
Dan’s result meant that his Halfords Racing with Cataclean Honda Civic carried 21 kilos of championship success ballast for race two, the first time Dan had raced with weight in his BTCC career. After a race stoppage, Dan made a better getaway at the second time of asking and benefitted from a clash between Adam Morgan (BMW) and Tom Ingram (Hyundai) ahead of him. Dan charged up to fifth place and then battled with double-champion Jason Plato, the 97-times race winner making a mistake under Rowbo’s pressure, allowing Dan to nip by for a career-best fourth place.
Gordon’s Halfords Racing with Cataclean Honda was still suffering the effects of its race one damage, meaning he was a frustrated 18th, and the team needing to spend more time working on the car before race three.
As the cars headed to the grid, the rain fell for race three. Dan elected to start on wet tyres, but as the road dried, he dived for the pit lane and changed on to slicks. However, the fickle weather conditions meant that as he rejoined the circuit, the rain fell again necessitating a second pit stop to go back on to wets. That cost Dan a lap and dropped him to 21stplace, while Flash, on his wet tyres, charged up to a tremendous fourth place from the back of the grid as the rain fell again late-race.
Gordon said: “It wasn’t the weekend I expected, but the car felt hooked up, and it is a long, 30-race season so I’ll bounce back at Snetterton. That last race was really good to charge up from the back of the grid, so it proves that the pace is in the car. We’ll be pushing hard at Snetterton next month.”
Said Dan: “I was hoping for three solid top 10 finishes, so to come away with a seventh and a fourth is really good. Race three was a legacy of the changing weather conditions, so I’ll chalk that up to experience, but it has been a fantastic start to the season and for my relationship with Team Dynamics and the same is true for Cataclean who had a great weekend in terms of exposure. I really can’t wait for Snetterton now because I really believe I will be pitching for podiums.”
The results of the opening three races of the Kwik Fit British Touring Car Championship put Dan Rowbottom seventh and Gordon Shedden 11th in the standings. Dan is also second in the Jack Sears Trophy for drivers yet to achieve an overall podium finish.
The next races in the British Touring Car Championship are at Snetterton, Norfolk, on June 12/13. Qualifying will be shown on itv.com on Saturday June 12th with all the raceday action on Sunday June 13th live on ITV4.