Saturday, August 23, 2014

BTCC: Holland high as a kite come rain or shine at Knockhill

Rotek Racing Press Release

In a day of incredibly mixed weather, Rotek Racing’s Robb Holland quite literally flew in qualifying ahead of Rounds 19, 20 and 21 of the 2014 Dunlop MSA British Touring Car Championship (BTCC), soaring over the undulating Knockhill circuit’s bulbous kerbs to go 27th fastest on Saturday (23 August).

Track conditions were mixed after early rain showers left the back end of the Scottish circuit damp and slippery for the start of the first BTCC free practice session on Saturday morning.

Three exploratory laps from Holland were followed by two long stays in the pits, as Rotek Racing began making setup adjustments to its Oakley Motorsports-backed Audi S3 saloon to suit Knockhill’s high kerbs and deep dips.

Profound grip issues and a nervousness on the bumpy track surface meant the Nürburgring and Silverstone-based team was busy reconfiguring the Audi during a short interval between first and second practice, and Holland felt confident his engineers had a handle on the setup going into FP2.

Light rain fell minutes before the start of the 40-minute test session and treaded Dunlop tyres were the order of the day as the Fife-based circuit became more and more saturated.

Holland opened his account with an unrepresentative 1m02.636s before carrying out a lengthy pit stop, when a trip into the gravel for Lea Wood at Duffus Dip led to a red-flag stoppage.

By easing off, the rain lulled everybody into a false sense of security, as another shower promptly followed, creating a highly frustrating situation for all concerned where nothing could be learnt.

In contrast, Knockhill was bathed in sunshine as qualifying got underway on Saturday afternoon and, with a mass of cars incessantly circulating the ever-drying Knockhill circuit, Holland found the limits on his final attempt, narrowly avoiding a barrel roll to record a 53.386s and go 27th fastest.

Holland said: “I pushed really hard, nobody can question that, and lost around three tenths of a second on that final ‘flying lap’ because, when you take flight, you’re never quicker! I knew it was the last lap, I was confident of turning in a quick time and pushed a little too hard, hit the kerb and came as close as I’ve ever come to rolling a car. I had some fairly clear running for a few laps for the first time this weekend, but it was always going to be difficult with 31 cars on such a short track. We’re not terribly far off, as a few more tenths would have put us well within the top 20. I think I can move forwards in the races, the car feels 100 per cent better than it did before Snetterton, so we’ll see what we can make of it.”

Rounds 19, 20 and 21 of the 2014 Dunlop MSA British Touring Car Championship (BTCC) are scheduled for 11.45, 14.05 and 17.07 respectively on Sunday (24 August) and will be beamed live and in high definition on ITV4 and ITV4HD.

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Photo credit: Rotek Racing