• Major power steering issues conspire against Josh Caygill
• Brands GP finale doesn’t go to plan due to mechanical woes
• Yorkshire driver still highlights positives from BTCC experience
Dunlop MSA British Touring Car Championship racer Josh Caygill encountered a frustrating end to his first two events in the UK’s premier motor racing category at Brands Hatch Grand Prix Circuit over the weekend, 29th/30th September, where mechanical dramas impacted his potential.
Still getting to grips with the demands of the BTCC after a solid debut at Silverstone two weeks ago, the 29-year-old had limited practice time due to power steering issues which also affected qualifying and the races despite the best efforts of the AmD with Autoaid/RCIB Insurance Racing team.
Departing the Kent track with a best finish of 21st position in race two on Sunday, an improvement on his previous best of 23rd place from Silverstone, Holmfirth racer Caygill is now looking forward to the 2019 motorsport season and a potential full assault on the BTCC.
“It’s been a good taster of touring cars and I’ve enjoyed working with Shaun [Hollamby] and the boys at AmD”, said the SMUK and LSS Waste-backed driver, “Obviously, we’d love to be back in the BTCC for a full season next year and if we can put a package together it’ll definitely be a strong option as it’d be great to give it a proper go now we know what it’s all about.”
With the power steering problems in opening practice, Caygill ended the run with a best time of 1m35.860 seconds (91.38mph). Even though he lost close to half an hour in session two with a new steering pump being fitted to the car he improved to 1m35.165 seconds (92.04mph).
Ahead of qualifying, with problems persisting, a new steering rack was bolted into the MG6 which again meant he lost some of the session. Concluding the run with a best lap of 1m33.294 seconds (93.89mph), a significant step forward, he began round 28 on Sunday morning from 31st on the grid.
Managing to climb through into 26th place on the opening lap, avoiding a multi-car tangle at Druids, Caygill then took 25th position on lap three when Ethan Hammerton went wide at Clark Curve and at the start of lap five he grabbed 24th when Sam Smelt’s AmD Audi ran through the gravel at Paddock.
The recovering Hammerton moved back through on lap six and Caygill stayed with his rival as the laps counted down. Into the 11th tour, though, the Yorkshireman was nudged back to 26th position by Mike Bushell’s Volkswagen CC and with three laps to go Caygill was back to 27th as Smelt moved back through. On the 15th and final lap, though, he took 26th after an excursion for Hammerton.
Starting round 29 from 26th spot, the AmD driver maintained position on lap one before being shuffled back a couple of places on the second tour. Profiting from an incident ahead on lap four, he moved up into the top 25 and after a mid-race Safety Car period he held 24th place.
As a few drivers became embroiled in incidents, Caygill kept his forward momentum and over the last few laps he climbed through into 21st position where he ended the 17 lap encounter to mark a step forward from race one – despite continued car problems.
Unfortunately, round 30 at the end of the afternoon only lasted a handful of laps for the MG6 racer with power steering difficulties rearing their head once more. Fighting the car for the first three laps, at the end of the fourth tour Caygill opted to retire.
“I’m pleased in terms of what I’m doing behind the wheel, my input into everything, but it’s been a tough weekend with a fair few problems sadly”, he reflected, “In the races I was within around a second of Rory [Butcher – AmD team-mate] and considering we lost a lot of running time in free practice, and also factoring in his experience and quality, I was happy with that to be honest.
“Unfortunately, we had power steering problems throughout. They spoiled FP1 and so a new pump was fitted for FP2 which meant we lost the first 20 minutes of that session. As a knock-on, I didn’t get a new tyre run so we were a session behind going into qualifying and we missed the first five minutes there with the guys working hard to finish off fitting a new steering rack.”
Caygill added: “I did struggle with understeer in race one, but passed a few cars, although later on there was a problem with the gears – it was like it was missing a gear on the straights which cost a lot of time. In race two we were in the thick of it, it was going well and I was staying with the group ahead until the power steering woes came back. No matter how much effort I put in, you just couldn’t get the car turned. That continued for race three so, in the end, we just had to park it.”
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