The GKR TradePriceCars.com team endured a true weekend of mixed emotions as the Kwik Fit British Touring Car Championship headed for Croft for the seventh meeting of the season.
The award-winning, Essex-based motor dealership made the long trip to the North Yorkshire circuit with a slimmed down entry of just one Audi S3 for Bobby Thompson, who was looking to extend his lead in the Jack Sears Trophy having moved into the championship lead at Silverstone in the previous event.
Things started well for Bobby as he set the twelfth best time in practice, leaving confidence high going into qualifying despite the arrival of rain adding an extra challenge into the mix.
Bobby would be in his element in the tricky conditions however and put the #19 Audi seventh on the time sheets in what was his best qualifying performance in the series by far – and it could have been better had he not lost his quickest lap to track limits at the Jim Clark Esses.
Penalties for two other drivers meant Bobby would be bumped up to fifth place on the grid for the opening race, which would be held in greasy conditions after more rain overnight.
Dicing for position with the likes of Matt Neal and Ash Sutton throughout, Bobby produced a fine drive to end up with an eighth place finish; leading the Jack Sears Trophy runners with his best result of the year to date.
That came despite an early scare when contact with a bollard left bodywork rubbing on the front tyre, although luckily the offending part was dislodged without causing any damage.
Race two followed a similar story as Bobby once again ran well inside the top ten throughout to repeat his result from earlier in the day, picking up another maximum score in the Jack Sears Trophy and setting himself up for another strong result in race three.
Unfortunately, a weekend of highs would end on a huge low when Bobby was involved in a dramatic accident on the third lap whilst dicing for position with the Hyundai of Senna Proctor.
Forced onto the grass as the pair went side-by-side towards the Jim Clark Esses, Bobby’s car slid sideways before digging into the infield, where it was launched into a barrel roll before coming to rest on its side.
Bobby was able to climb from the heavily damaged car before being taken to the medical centre for checks, and was later released to return to the paddock.
Despite the disappointing DNF, Bobby has extended his lead in the Jack Sears Trophy to 27 points and has now scored more points this season than in his previous two campaigns in the series.
The team will now return to base to start work on the repairs to the damaged car ahead of the next round of the season at Snetterton in two weeks time, where Bobby will be joined by Paul Rivett as the team returns to a two-car line-up.
Bobby Thompson, #19 GKR TradePriceCars.com Audi S3, said:
“This has been our best weekend of the season by far and we were really strong from the moment we hit the track in practice. Qualifying was absolutely brilliant and fifth on the grid was way than I was expecting – and it could have been even better without losing my best time for track limits.
“Race day was all about trying to stay out of trouble and focusing on the Jack Sears Trophy because there was a really good chance to extend the lead out front. The first two races were great as we were able to stick with the front runners on merit, and two top eight finishes set us up really well for race three.
“Obviously what happened there is really disappointing, but once the car was on the grass there was nothing I could do. When it dug in and started to roll, it was just a case of holding on and waiting for it to stop. I’ve been told it looked dramatic on TV, and it certainly felt like it was where I was sitting!
“I’m feeling a bit battered and bruised but I have to give a huge amount of thanks to the team for providing me with such a strong car, and I have every confidence that they can get the damage repaired so we can try to defend our lead in the rounds to come.”