The GKR TradePriceCars.com team was able to secure a double points finish at Donington Park as the new Kwik Fit British Touring Car Championship finally kicked off.
The award-winning Essex-based motor dealership headed into the first round of the campaign hoping to impress with a new look driver pairing of Bobby Thompson and James Gornall at the wheel of its two Audi S3s.
Bobby started his weekend in solid fashion during Saturday’s two free practice sessions, putting the #19 Audi into the top ten in FP2 before qualifying 17th fastest after a session that was affected by mixed conditions on track, and a red flag that struck as the circuit was arguably as its best.
James meanwhile made solid progress across Saturday, improving on his fastest lap by half a second between practice and qualifying to line up in 19th spot for race one; putting him firmly in the mix for points on race day.
With rain in air on Sunday morning, the pair lined up on the grid for the opening race and would run side-by-side on the run down to turn one, with James getting ahead to leave the duo running in 17th and 18th spot.
The two Audis would circulate together through the early laps, with Bobby getting back ahead as he moved into the points on lap four. There then followed a huge fight between the two team-mates in the following laps, with the two cars swapping places multiple times as the pair continued to charge forward to sit just outside the top ten when the Safety Car was deployed.
After the restart, Bobby would put the Honda of Tom Chilton under huge pressure before being forced to settle for eleventh spot although there was late disappointment for James as he suffered an engine issue and retired to the pits, having looked well set for a top twelve finish.
Despite the best efforts of the team to change the engine on his car, James would be forced to sit out the second race of the day, leaving Bobby to fly the flag alone in the 19 lap encounter.
lthough he would run inside the points scoring positions for much of the race, a lack of straightline speed would hamper his challenge and he would cross the line in 17th place.
Both cars were able to take the start for the final race, with Bobby starting from the same place he had finished race two, and James taking his slot at the rear of the field.
Whilst Bobby made up a place at the start, James was a man on the move further back as he climbed up five spots on the opening lap and was soon working his way into the top 20, as Bobby also made forward progress towards the points.
A brief excursion at the final corner then saw Bobby slip back to 17th spot but he would push hard through the final two laps to battle back into 15th place to secure a second points finish of the day.
Showing strong pace in the sister car, James put in a fine drive to come through to 16th spot, pushing hard to make up ground he had lost after an early Safety Car period when one of the cars ahead was caught napping on the restart.
At the end of the weekend, Bobby sits ninth in the Independents’ Trophy standings with James in 16th, whilst GKR TradePriceCars.com sit eighth in the Independents’ Teams’ Championship.
Bobby Thompson, #19 GKR TradePriceCars.com Audi S3, said:
“We’ve managed to score points in two races which is good, although we struggled a little with straight line speed on race day which is something we need to look at. Aside from that, the car itself has been mega and the GKR TradePriceCars.com guys have done a fantastic job – I can’t fault them at all.
“We just need to work out why we lost some of that straight line performance compared to Saturday but this is a decent starting point for us and something to build on during the races to come.”
Image: Jacob Ebery