Fresh from his appearance in the UK round of the FIA World Touring Car Championship at Brands Hatch two weeks ago, Tom returned to action last weekend in the sixth round of the 2010 Dunlop MSA British Touring Car Championship at the Snetterton circuit in Norfolk. And it was straight down to business as he posted his highest grid position of the season so far, qualifying in tenth place with a hugely impressive performance in the wet conditions, spending much of the session in the top three.
In the first of the three races on Sunday, Tom in his Special Tuning UK SEAT Leon made a strong start, holding off the challenge from the Airwave BMWs behind and passing Paul O’Neil in the Honda Integra into the second corner. With the race leader then suffering a broken gear lever, Boardman moved up into eighth. A good pace throughout the race ensured he held firm to his position and it was another valuable top-ten points finish for the Lancastrian driver.
It was to be a disastrous second race for Tom, however, when a hefty collision on the opening lap forced him into an early retirement. The race began well with Tom passing James Nash in the Triple 8 Vauxhall Vectra into seventh and challenging for sixth place, before there was contact between the Vauxhall & the SEAT exiting The Esses. The Club SEAT Leon was sent spinning backwards over the grass before rebounding back across the circuit and into the path of Paul O’Neil at the apex of the Bomb Hole corner. Fortunately both drivers were okay but the cars sustained very heavy damage and it was race over for Tom.
Speaking after the second race, Tom said: “I got a fantastic start, getting cleanly passed Nash, before being tagged up the rear sent me sideways on to the grass, back on to the circuit and being wiped out by O’Neil, properly disappointing.”
It was then a race against time to repair the massive damage to Tom’s car in time for the final race, which included a change of gearbox, two drive-shafts, suspension work and patching-up of the bodywork. And it was an immense effort from the Special Tuning UK team which ensured he was able to make it on to the grid, much to the surprise of some of the other teams and the race commentators.
However, with not finishing the second race Tom would have to start from the back of the grid. Not to be deterred though, he made another outstanding start, taking three places in the first lap. Following a couple of skirmishes further up the field, he climbed up the order and in to twelfth by the third lap. Driving a car not handling to the best of its ability, it was an exceptional performance from Tom and he maintained the pressure and his pace to finish the race in a remarkable eleventh place.
Commenting on the day’s racing, Tom said: “The team worked really hard today to get me out for the third race and I’m very proud of them. Unfortunately we didn’t have the opportunity to demonstrate anything at the front of the field this weekend, but we showed what we’re capable of in the third race, even with the car not handling well. It has been a frustrating day, but we’ll come back stronger at Silverstone in two weeks time.”
Tom is now eighth in the Independent drivers’ table and Special Tuning UK lies seventh and ninth respectively in the outright and Independent teams’ championships.
The next race takes place at Silverstone on 22 August.
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