Words and images by Chris Roberts/Widerviewphoto.com
The 3rd meeting of the Dunlop MSA British Touring Car Championship took place at the high speed Hampshire circuit of Thruxton in warm and sunny conditions during the May bank holiday weekend.
This is the local circuit for Fleet based Welch Motorsport and Dan Welch had gone well at the circuit over the years in a variety of cars, including wins.
Dan Welch was for the 3rd season competing in a NGTC Proton GEN-2 which the team were trying to get ideally setup.
With his team mate David Nye (competing for the Jack Sears Trophy) in his S2000 Ford Focus they were both looking for a good qualifying position for the opening race.
Welch was having issues with his brakes and was complaining of a long brake pedal which meant he was only able to qualify in 19th place. This meant that as Welch explained “We needed to check all the brake options so we have a better car for the Sunday races” This meant the team had a very late night getting a better setup.
The Opening race on the Sunday took place in very warm (for 2013) with an ambient temperature of 19C and track temperature of 28C. This on the most abrasive circuit that the championship visits, which means a special hard compound is used (with no soft compound option this meeting). With punctures on the front left on front wheel cars being a regular occurrence, if the camber is set too aggressively, care is needed.
Welch had a strong race and managed to move from 19th place to finish in 14th place at the flag.
The 2nd race took place in the mid-afternoon and before the weekend Welch had wondered how to celebrate his 50th BTCC start. Unfortunately the brake issue reoccurred early in the race as after a grassy moment at Church he had a brake failure at the fastest point of the circuit which put him into a spin and a heavy impact into the barriers at the Chicane.
Fortunately Welch was able to get out of the car but very frustrated as there was a lot of work to get the car fixed and ready for the final race at the end of the afternoon.
With all hands to the pump the Welch motorsport crew got to work (once the car had been returned) and started to repair the car to see if it could get out for the final race.
With just moments to spare Welch drove down the pitlane to go around to his grid slot before the pit lane closed. Having not finished the last race he would be starting at the back in 27th place.
After a strong start, with a car as Welch explained afterwards that was not working ideally, he moved through the field and after passing a lot of cars in bold overtaking moves managed to finish in 11th place at the flag, which was a small crumb of comfort.
Dan Welch and the team did a great job of getting the car sorted for the final race but they still feel they are due a more settled weekend where the car and driver can show its true potential which is to qualify in the top 10.
There is now a 5 week break before the next races at the Cheshire circuit of Oulton Park with the next three races on Sunday June 9th