Most weekends this season were a tale of two days for the West Surrey Racing team. The drivers put themselves on the back foot with disappointing qualifying results, but incredible recovery drives on Sundays brought in the points needed to put WSR at the top of the manufacturers’ championship.
The Team JCT600 side of the WSR team would see a familiar line up as Rob Collard and Sam Tordoff returned to the blue and silver BMWs. The team’s third car, however, would see a new driver, Jack Goff.
Things got off to a good start for the team, with a decent Saturday for the first round of the championship, but the misfortune was just waiting to pounce during race day. Tordoff had managed to put his car in fourth on the Saturday, but a spin early on in the first race undid all that hard work and sent him tumbling down the order.
A spin was also in store for Collard, but his came at a more heartbreaking moment. In the second race, having shot up to second off of the line and challenging for the lead of the race. With a win almost in his grasp, Collard fell back to finish sixth.
The WSR team would have to wait until the final race of the opening weekend to end up on the podium, with Tordoff finishing the race second and Goff third, but even that was bittersweet, after Tordoff started the race from pole position.
Donington Park saw the first qualifying problem for the WSR team. Whilst Collard took a sixth in qualifying and Goff and eighth, red flags put a stop to Tordoff’s fast lap, meaning he would start the first race of the weekend from twenty first.
West Surrey Racings first win would come in the second race of the Donington Park weekend. After finishing sixth in race one, Collard jumped off the line at the start of race two and up to the sharp end of the field. He stormed past the remaining drivers and into the lead of the race, taking WSR’s first win whilst Goff and Tordoff came fifth and eighth.
Another difficult qualifying greeted the team at Thruxton but, by the time they left the Hampshire track, Collard was leading the drivers championship. Tordoff took the lead the following weekend whilst JCT600 were leading the teams’ championship.
West Surrey Racing spent most of the rest of the season recovering from disappointing Saturdays. Collard took the brunt of the misfortune, but a number of times the troubles hit all three BMW cars. Though Collard always made up for his trouble on the Sunday, it would lead to a wasted race, leading many to ask what he would have been able to do if he’d gotten Saturday right (although the Saturday troubles meant he was a show in for the #ForeverForward award).
Rockingham and Silverstone in particular were difficult weekends for the team. The disaster movie weather and an engine problem in qualifying put all three BMWs towards the back of the grid at Rockingham and, though Tordoff was able to take a win at the track and stay at the top of the championship, the rest of the field were able to catch up with the WSR gang, and what they really needed was a perfect weekend before the season finale.
That wasn’t going to happen though, with a challenging qualifying putting them not much further forward than they had been at Rockingham. Another race day recovery, with all three drivers taking points in every race, meant Tordoff and Collard would still be in the championship fight – Tordoff still at the top of the standings – but they wouldn’t be going to Brands Hatch with the advantage they wanted.
Another difficult qualifying put them in the middle of the field for the first race of the final weekend. Though Tordoff would be able to hold on to the lead of the championship until the very last race, he would have almost no advantage by the time the lights went out at the start of race thirty.
Tordoff had been struggling with overtaking all weekend and, though he started ahead of his championship rival in the final race of the weekend, he couldn’t keep Shedden behind him. When the Scot got ahead, Tordoff couldn’t keep ahead, meaning he would have to make do with second in the championship.
Still the fight the WSR drivers had put up meant they wouldn’t be without trophies from this season. The Team JCT600 with GardX would take the teams’ title by seventeen points, whilst WSR’s advantage over the rest of the manufacturer’s would be over fifty points by the end of the season.
Image Credit: Caroline Rhea