Mighty Moffat takes maiden British Touring Car Championship win
"It was the most enjoyable race I have taken part in, being able to do my own thing, a special feeling, a very special feeling to now say BTCC Race Winner!"
Yes, apparently I have written myself into the history books by winning the opening race at Donington Park on Easter Sunday and scoring my first ever win in the Dunlop MSA British Touring Car Championship for Laser Tools Racing!
I had had a bit of a nail-biting qualifying session — it had been going well, I was lapping consistently, but in the final five minutes of the session I had a blinder of a lap and managed P5! This ended up with me P4 on the grid for the first race on Sunday as the Subaru initially on P1 had been sent to the back step leaving Rob Austin on P1.
Race start — I sprinted to the first corner on the tail of the race leaders. By the end of the opening lap, I had worked my way to third in our Laser Tools Racing Mercedes-Benz A-Class. Grabbed second place at the Old Hairpin on lap three as I passed Rob Austin’s Toyota Avensis. Next target was race leader Tom Ingram and I could see he was struggling on the hard tyres so surged past on lap five at the top of the dauntingly fast Craner Curves to lead a BTCC race for the first time.
Now, that's easy to say, but I had to cope with the remaining eleven laps and the sight of cars scattered around the circuit, which could have heralded a safety car period, which in turn would have wiped out my lead! Thankfully, the race continued without intervention, and my winning margin was 1.5 seconds. I was very aware of three-time champion Matt Neal (Honda Civic) behind me so I could not relax for one second! However, I managed to set the fastest lap of the Independents’ division for the non-factory teams and later I learned that the fans watching on television voted my pass of Ingram as the best of the race in a social media poll!
I've always known that I had a great car underneath me, but It was a hard race because it was a case of managing the gap and looking after the tyres once I got into the lead. I knew that Tom (Ingram) was on the harder, option tyre which isn’t as good as the prime tyre and that he was carrying 66 kilos of success ballast so I knew that I could get ahead and I saw that he was a bit unsettled through the Craner Curves. I made my move there as soon as I could and got away while he was defending from the pack behind.
That was such a special feeling, the car felt good, I knew we could challenge for the podium, but to get out front and pull that gap allowed me to drive the race how I wanted and manage my own pace.
It was different to the race I normally encounter, but I can certainly get used to that! It was the most enjoyable race I have taken part in, being able to do my own thing, a special feeling, a very special feeling to now say BTCC Race Winner.
For Race 2 I had to race with 75 kilos of race winner’s ballast for the first time in my BTCC career. Also, I was running the harder, less-preferable option tyre in that second race and I knew I would inevitably lose pace against the lighter cars. However, I was actually quite happy that I managed to fend off the pack for as long as possible and run in the leading group for the first two-thirds of the race, However, inevitably the weight and the harder tyre started to tell and I fell to 14th at the end of the 16-lap race. It was hard with the weight, the car didn’t want to stop and it didn’t want to turn! I held on for as long as I could but in the end I just couldn’t hold back the pack any longer.
Race 3 was exciting, wasn't it? With the first start I made up a lot of ground before being taken out but these things happen in tricky weather conditions. On the restart again I made up a lot of places before being caught up in someone else's accident but I fought back to 9th that later became 8th after Gordon's disqualification. I really felt that I drove well in that third race. I thought I was out of contention but in those conditions the car felt great and I just kept on pushing.
To finish, I've just got to thank the whole team at Laser Tools Racing. Without your commitment, support and passion we wouldn't be getting these amazing results. Thanks to you all!
More points for Laser Tools Racing and looking forward to the next round at Thruxton, Hampshire, on May 6/7.