• Former GT racer Josh Caygill happy with performance on BTCC bow
• AMD with Autoaid/RCIB Insurance Racing driver takes best of P23
• Yorkshireman aims for big strides in 2018 finale at Brands Hatch
Dunlop MSA British Touring Car Championship debutant Josh Caygill says he is relishing the final rounds of the 2018 season at Brands Hatch a fortnight from now, after a pleasing debut in the UK’s premier car racing series at Silverstone National Circuit over the weekend, 15th/16th September.
Making his BTCC bow with the AMD with Autoaid/RCIB Insurance Racing squad at the wheel of an MG6, the 29-year-old from Holmfirth made good steps throughout the event but the end results didn’t reflect the true progress – issues with overheating compromising races two and three.
Even so, the former Blancpain Sprint Cup and Blancpain Endurance Cup driver departed Silverstone with good experience under his belt on his return to front-wheel drive competition with a best finish of 23rd position, from 30th on the grid, coming in the first of Sunday afternoon’s three races.
“It’s been a better weekend than the results suggest, they don’t reflect the progress we made”, said the SMUK and LSS Waste-backed driver, “I’m happy with that side of things and quite pleased with the job to be honest, now I’m really looking forward to Brands with this weekend under my belt.
“Every time I went out in practice and qualifying I found a bit of time, not massive amounts but still improving, so I was happy enough with that. Obviously, 30th on the grid wasn’t where I want to be but we’re learning, adapting back to front-wheel drive and understanding how these cars work.”
He added: “I do want to say a big thank you to Rory [Butcher] for his help, he was mega all weekend and I can’t speak highly enough of him as a team-mate and just a really genuine lad. I’ve always got on with Rory, he’s been a big help this weekend so big thanks to him and all the guys at the team.”
Caygill, required to run with 45kg of ballast as a new entrant into the championship, started off his debut BTCC weekend with a best time of 59.814 seconds (98.73mph) in the opening free practice before shaving a tenth of a second off that time in session two, a lap of 59.728 seconds (98.87mph), and then improving again in qualifying with a time of 59.609 seconds (99.07mph).
Beginning his maiden British Touring Car Championship race on Sunday afternoon from 30th place on the immense grid, Caygill – running the ‘hard’ compound option tyres for his first race in the series – made an electric launch to pass three cars straight away.
Holding 27th place into lap two, the MG6 driver was edged back a spot on the third tour but moved through into 26th position before the Safety Car was deployed on lap five as a result of dramas for a few drivers.
Racing resumed on lap eight and as more difficulties affected some of the competition, Caygill continued to climb up the order into 23rd place where he eventually concluded a solid first race in the BTCC.
Caygill started race two from 22nd place and remained in the battle just outside the top 20 over the first couple of tours, before being bundled down to 28th place on lap three. On lap seven he was able to move up into 27th position and he climbed into the top 25 a couple of laps later after a good battle with Sam Smelt and Bobby Thompson.
On the 12th tour, though, the MG went into ‘limp’ mode and Caygill had to pit. After resetting the car’s systems the team sent him back into the race, albeit four laps down, and he went on to take the flag in 29th position. Importantly, Caygill’s best lap of the race of 59.728 seconds was only 0.3 seconds outside podium performance.
Hoping for a clean run in the third and final contest from 29th on the grid, and with a fresh radiator fitted to the car after concerns with the overheating, Caygill made progress to begin but inside just six laps there was a reoccurrence of the issues and a disappointing retirement duly followed.
“To be fair, I didn’t quite realise how much difference the ballast would make until it was removed for race two”, reflected Caygill, “In race one we wanted to get the hard tyre out of the way, so it was a case of just staying out of trouble and getting the laps under my belt.
“I had a decent start to race two, enjoyed some good little scraps, but after I got past [Sam] Smelt and [Bobby] Thompson my car went into limp mode. I came in to the pits and it had overheated, so the team reset everything and cleared it. We changed the radiator for the last one but after a few laps the car started spluttering again and that was that, I had to retire – just one of those things.”
There are only two weeks for Caygill to wait until he’s back in BTCC action, with the final three races of the season set to take place on Sunday, 30th September, at Brands Hatch Grand Prix Circuit in Kent – venue for the Yorkshireman’s ‘Silver’ class victory in the Blancpain Sprint Cup back in May.
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