Saturday, June 28, 2014

BTCC: Holland disappointed as lack of testing hurts Rotek Racing's Croft BTCC build-up

Rotek Racing Press Release

The disappointment continued for Robb Holland and Rotek Racing during an underwhelming build-up to Rounds 13, 14 and 15 of the Dunlop MSA British Touring Car Championship (BTCC) at Croft Circuit, another weekend mired by a severe lack of testing.

A season that started in such a positive fashion for Holland has been an uphill struggle for the Rotek Racing operation, as the Nürburgring and Silverstone-based team has had to grapple with new-car teething problems and continues to try and understand how to optimise the new-for-2014 Audi S3 saloon.

Holland tentatively tip-toed around the 2.25mile Croft Circuit in FP1 on Saturday morning, having only experienced the North Yorkshire circuit on a simulator and was 24th fastest after ten laps when his progress was stymied by a red flag stoppage and a short, sharp rain shower.

Undeterred, the American continued circulating and completed 15 laps, but the wet-dry conditions prevented him from clocking up any meaningful mileage behind the wheel of his Oakley Motorsports Audi and there was a slight sense of frustration as he went into FP2.

Dark clouds hung over Croft for the duration of the morning although the intermittent drizzle subsided for the start of the 30-minute second practice session, to the delight of Holland and his Rotek Racing team.

Sadly, consistent track and weather conditions didn’t reap as many benefits as expected and the team went into qualifying bemused as to why the configuration honed at Oulton Park three weeks ago was ineffective at Croft.

Conditions remained dry for qualifying on Saturday afternoon and it was a slow start to the 30-minute session for all the front-wheel-drive runners, who all pitted for new Dunlops after completing a single installation lap.

Holland only began setting representative times after more than ten minutes and steadily picked up the pace in a red flag-affected qualifying until climaxing in 28th position with a best lap of 1m26.926s, recorded on his tenth tour of the North Yorkshire circuit.

“Carrying mid-corner speed has been our problem since day one and that’s exactly what we’re struggling with here at Croft Circuit,” said Holland. “We came up with a solution at Oulton Park and it worked perfectly there, but we arrived here to find that it has disappeared and it’s quite baffling. The window these cars operate in is very narrow and, if something like the track surface or temperature changes, that can easily throw you out of it.

“We’ve spent today chasing this solution and trying to find out where it went and, while it was a bit better in qualifying because the new tyres give you better grip and allow you to charge into the corners more, it’s tough to play catch up during these race weekends. The fact is, a lack of testing is hurting us and we need to come away from a weekend without damage to repair and clock up some miles with the car to really understand where we need to go with it and focus on moving forwards. It’s frustrating that we thought we made a step forwards, when in fact it’s status quo.”

Round 13 takes place at 12.02, Round 14 at 14.39 and Round 15 at 17.06 tomorrow (Sunday 29 June) and all three races will be beamed live and in high definition on ITV4 and ITV4HD.

For more on Rotek Racing, visit the official website, ‘like’ the team’s Facebook page or follow @rotekracing on Twitter.

Photo credit: Rotek Racing