Simon Blanckley - owner/driver of Dunlop MSA British Touring Car Championship team sibsport - achieved his first championship point at Rockingham Motorsport Speedway last Sunday (22nd April) in only his second ever event in his debut season in the series.
Following a triple finish at Brands Hatch three weeks earlier, sibsport were aiming to get nearer to the top ten at Rockingham as the team continued to focus on gradual progression.
Despite having to fit a new engine due to a failure in race one which meant he couldn’t compete in race two, Blanckley made it onto the grid for race three – round 6 of the series. Blanckley’s calm driving style meant he avoided the usual chaos that is common in BTCC race starts and by the end of the first lap he had moved his Honda Integra up from 21st on the grid to 17th. As Blanckley kept out of trouble, others in front of the Durham driver were having problems. Having overtaken several of his rivals, Blanckley made his way up to 13th by lap 9, when the safety car was deployed. This caused the field to close up and a few laps later, Blanckley found himself in 11th place, just over a second behind Turkish driver Erkut Kizilirmak in his Vauxhall Astra. Determined to achieve the team’s first point and put behind him the disappointment of the first two races earlier in the day, Blanckley hunted down the Vauxhall and made the pass on lap 13. He stayed in 10th to claim the last championship point, a result that his team were elated with as he passed the chequered flag. Blanckley’s consistency throughout the last race of the day – lapping in the mid 1 minute 27 seconds bracket – was also crucial to his result.
Round 7, 8 and 9 of the BTCC calendar are at the super-fast Thruxton circuit in Hampshire, close to the historic site of Stonehenge, on May 6th. Following the conclusion of that race, Simon Blanckley will then visit his local track of Croft for the next event of the championship on June 3rd.
Simon Blanckley, Owner/Driver
“The result in round 6 was really great for the team. The guys put so much effort in to get me out for that race. In the first race (round 4) I had a coming together with Chris Stockton (Lexus) which broke the anti-roll bar. I kept going, although the car felt like it was steering from the rear. Then towards the end of the race we had an engine failure.
“The fact that the team changed the engine in just a few hours was incredible. The bigger teams can manage it, but for a small independent team to get it done so fast is a real credit to the engineering expertise of Graham Hathaway Engineering and Neil Brown Competition Engines.”
“The way the day finished was really positive. It is amazing, scoring my first BTCC point in only my second event. I really wasn’t expecting it!”
Graham Hathaway, Team Manager
“A really good result in the final race. My guys did an amazing job with the engine change – it’s not an easy procedure. It really shows their commitment and professionalism.”