The eBay Motors teams endured a character-building weekend at Brands Hatch as the 2013 Dunlop MSA British Touring Car Championship burst into life with three drama-filled races around the short Indy circuit.
The first meeting of the new campaign marked the race debut for the team’s brand-new BMW 125i M-Sport, which has been designed and built up over the course of the winter and is the first eBay Motors car to run to the BTCC’s Next Generation Touring Car regulations.
Having been thwarted by the weather during its pre-season testing programme, the team went into the opening meeting of the year seeking to learn as much as possible about the new car, with Colin Turkington, Rob Collard and Nick Foster seeking to collect valuable data to help the team with the ongoing development of the NGTC machine.
Qualifying on Saturday saw mixed results for the team, with a snow shower mid-way through meaning it was the early stages of the session that would ultimately decide the starting order for race one.
Nick led the eBay Motors challenge with a fine ninth place on the grid, with Rob lining up 13th, despite being just a tenth of a second behind his team-mate. Colin however would be left to start from the back of the grid after he suffered a spin exiting Druids and was collected by the Vauxhall of Jack Goff – leaving his car nursing heavy front-end damage and leading to a late night for the eBay Motors crew as repairs were carried out.
All three cars were therefore ready to take their place on the grid for race one, but it would end in disappointing fashion for both Nick and Rob, with a broken propshaft meaning Nick was unable to take the start and an overheating issue forcing Rob into retirement early on. Left to fly the flag from the back of the pack as a result, Colin showed his experience to progress through the field to finish eighth; setting lap-times comparable with the leaders in the first race for the car.
From eighth on the grid for race two, Colin was hopeful for further progress when the lights went out and a strong start saw him jump up to fifth, although his luck ran out when he was tapped into a spin by the Toyota of Frank Wrathall at Paddock Hill Bend and took a trip through the gravel. Recovering onto the circuit, the 2009 champion battled back to finish in ninth spot; later being promoted a position when the Honda of Gordon Shedden was excluded.
A solid run for Nick saw him work his way through to secure tenth spot after Shedden’s exclusion, although there was further disappointment for Rob when a recurrence of his over-heating issues led to the team taking the decision to retire as a precaution, with his car undergoing an engine change prior to race three.
Again starting eighth on the grid for race three, Colin was left with work to do when he ran wide through the gravel at Paddock Hill Bend on lap one but he again showed similar pace the leaders as he worked his way back up to ninth – adding more solid points to his tally to finish the weekend seventh in the championship standings and fourth amongst the Independents’.
Nick had looked set to finish ahead of Colin on the road for much of the race, as he too showed strong pace in his new car. Having avoided a scare early on when Dave Newsham spun his Toyota ahead of him exiting Paddock Hill, Nick was pushing hard for a top ten finish before being tipped into a spin by Dan Welch’s Proton; the resultant lost time meaning he slipped back to 13th spot.
His results over the weekend mean Nick leaves Brands Hatch tenth in both the overall and the Independents’ championship, but for Rob, a challenging weekend would end in disappointing fashion when he was again unable to finish; the team deciding to retire the car after a warning alarm sounded in the cockpit.
Despite the challenging nature of the season opener, eBay Motors sit fourth in the HiQ Teams Championship, and third in the Independents’ Team Trophy ahead of the second meeting of the season at Donington Park.
Colin Turkington (8th, 8th, 9th):
“Coming into the weekend, I said it would be good if we could get three top finishes and while two eighth places and a ninth aren’t the kind of results we are aiming for, we have gained a lot of knowledge about the car that we can take forwards and that will help us to improve the package we have. The fact we didn’t get much testing in before the season meant were on the back foot a bit and it’s been a tough day, but we have made progress and that is what this weekend was all about.”
Nick Foster (DNC, 10th, 13th):
“There are a lot of positives for us to take away from the weekend, even though we aren’t where we want to be at the moment. Qualifying ninth, I felt confident for the races but unfortunately, the propshaft snapped on the way to the grid, which is one of those things. I had to battle back in the remaining two races and had a good run in both, although it was a bit frustrating that contact from the Proton stopped me finishing higher in race three. There’s a lot of potential for us to unlock and there is certainly more to come.”
Rob Collard (DNF, DNF, DNF):
“It’s been a really tough day, and one that the boys who have worked so hard to get the car ready for this weekend didn’t deserve. We faced issues throughout the day and even after they changed the engine for the final race, things didn’t go my way. It’s a shame because the car felt good and there is so much potential in it. Despite our troubles this weekend, I have no doubt the car is going to be a strong package this year.”