BTCC: Brands Hatch

4 October 2011

Chris made history last weekend by becoming the second youngest driver in the 53 year history of The British Touring Car Championship (BTCC), the highest level of saloon car racing in the country. In record breaking weather that saw the temperatures in the car rise to 46 degrees, Chris joined the biggest touring car grid for a number of years with 29 cars competing on the Brands Hatch GP circuit. Driving the car on the Saturday for only the second time in the dry, Chris struggled against some of his boyhood heroes, and everyday numbers in the racing world: Plato, Neal, Chilton and a whole host of others and qualified 27th.

With the organisers having to open up the pit lane walkabout and autograph session early due to the size of the crowd, and the races being live on ITV4, Chris knew this was a good chance to impress and get some potential sponsors for next year, and although he failed in his target to get in the top 10 in one of the races, in all three races he brought the car home in one piece, something many of the other drivers failed to do.

'The first race was incredible!' Chris said, finishing 17th in front of Neal and Shedden, two of the Championship top three, and starting in a much larger grid than normal. 'I was really pleased, although I seemed to lack straight line speed as did my team mate Rob Austin who finished 13th . In the second race starting right in the middle of the grid, 17th , which is a particular daunting experience, I managed to hold my own after I was passed early on by the two Honda?s, but unfortunately I picked up a drive through penalty for running wide at Graham Hill bend, and at this level that is effectively the end of your race.'

Starting race three at the back was always going to be a big task, but Chris made steady progress and as one or two in front of him began to get tyre problems and drop out, he continued his progress through the field to finish 20th.

Team Principle Richard Austin, said afterwards 'It's a steep learning curve and Chris listened, did everything we asked of him and can walk away from his first BTCC meeting with his head held high. He finished all three races and to finish one of them in 17th, and be in front of Championship Contenders speaks volumes of the lad. Then considering as a team we had problems with straight line speed and he is only 17, the future looks very good for the lad.'