A ROLLERCOASTER SEASON OPENER AT BRANDS HATCH

A ROLLERCOASTER SEASON OPENER AT BRANDS HATCH

Crunch time. The participants had now showcased their machines during an exciting, enthusiastic Media Day at Donington Park; now it was down to business. Brands Hatch, the host of three highly contested battles as the 2015 British Touring Car Championship circus, finally opened its doors after the long winter break. Easter weekend didn’t stop thousands of spectators assembling around the 1.2 mile circuit in Kent with CarShop partner, Laser Tools Racing and Aiden Moffat, wanting to build on a fantastic display at the Media Day practice session.

With a red flag during Saturday’s qualifying session to deal with the stricken Eurotech Honda Civic of Martin Depper, the time to set in a good rhythm and deliver a good lap was hampered which meant a 26 car, 10-minute shootout for pole. Laser Tools Racing’s young gun Aiden Moffat pushed the teams new Mercedes A-Class to an exciting 15th for Sunday’s season opener, with a lap time of 48.93 seconds which was only half a second off pole position.

Greeting their guests on an overcast and chilly Sunday morning, the Laser Tool Racing team were high with enthusiasm. From the hospitality suite down to the pit garage, there was a sense of pride running through everyone. It was the opening race weekend to the season where prior to green lights of the first race, the car has been performing tremendously well. What was there to be down about? The pit lane walkabout attracted a lot attention to car number 16’s garage with words of encouragement exchanged between the BTCC barmy army and team driver Aiden Moffat.

“It’s great to meet the fans before each race. You don’t really get this in many sports where fans can get so close to their idols. It’s lovely to hear the positive comments from them and the support they have for you.” -(Aiden Moffat)

 

This enthusiasm was transferred down to every guest of the team on the day. The garage was full with VIP members where meeting and greeting to each member of the Laser Tools Racing outfit was made possible. This welcoming approach was touching and was made apparent as Aiden set off for the first time out of the garage. Looking around the garage, a connection was made and there were smiles placed on every person’s face as eyes followed the blue, white and black liveried machine down the pit lane. It was like the Laser Tool Racing family had grown.

Brands 2

Revs built and the first set of green lights went off just after 11:50am, kicking off the 2015 season. 27 cars set off in unison where they approached the awkward first downhill right-hand corner all bunched together, door-to-door, wheel-to-wheel. As everyone held their breath, there was a sigh of relief as the Mercedes emerged unscathed from the first couple of corners where Aiden was able to find his rhythm and manage to battle through the 24 lap contest.  Despite being hampered on the straights due to damage on the front left of the car caused by an incident with Dave Newsham, he was still able to cross the line and finish a respectable 12th place for Race One.

As applause broke out around the garage on the arrival of Aiden after Race One, Team Manager Gary Allen expressed his feelings about the atmosphere of race day:

“Welcome to race day. The loud popping of the exhausts, the speed, the smell; it always lays a layer of goose pimples over me. It’s a step up from any practice session, and it’s moments like this (Race One) that gives you a reason to come to work and knuckle down. We suffered with slight damage to the front which did affect our top speed but overall it’s a fantastic result for the team and as you can see, everyone is thrilled with it.”

This good spirit was carried through the lunch break with the hospitality suite alive and kicking. As the sun started to break through the clouds and light up the circuit, the relaxed and positive vibe was transferred through to Race Two, which saw Aiden finish yet again in the points with another bumper-to-bumper squabble with the rest of the grid crossing only one place down on his Race One final position. The consistent results were a pleasing sight for all to view but it wasn’t until the final race that everyone would whiteness the contents from the bag of emotions emptied out within the space of just four laps.

The afternoon was a total contrast to the morning with amazing blue skies hovering over the circuit and the Easter Sunday sun bathing the whole circuit in a warm blanket. It was a fitting tribute to what had been a superb opening race weekend. But for Laser Tools Racing, it all came to an end all too suddenly with the first signs of trouble being apparent when Aiden’s Mercedes left the garage with a small fluid leak. This issue grew once the lights went out and saw Aiden pit just after the fourth lap. The pit crew worked frantically to find out the problem was and found an issue with the brakes where it was best for Aiden to retire due to safety reasons.

Brands 3

“Its unfortunate but we’ve had to retire the car (from Race Three) on the basis of it’s just too unsafe to race. A master cylinder has packed in and it’s resulted in a much earlier finish than anticipated. Obviously Aiden is quite upset about this but I’m sure he’ll come to terms with why we had to do this. It’s a strong weekend overall though with two points finish, one up on our season tally from last year which is a positive and something not to be ashamed of” - Team Owner/Principal (Rob Moffat)

It’s Donington Park for the next meeting where a superb display during the Media Day saw Aiden take the Laser Racing Tools Mercedes to a 3rd fastest time. A repeat would be fantastic but competition will be strong which will never make it an easy task. With retirement in Race Three though, Aiden will be itching to get behind the wheel again and showcase he’s ever growing talent.

 

 

  • On: 08 April 2015
  • By: CarShop

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