Joel Newman from Accelerate PR catches up with Steven Kane, the Airwaves BMW Dunlop MSA British Touring Car driver, currently second in the Independent and fifth in the overall Driver Championship, for a mid-season chinwag…
So Steven, what have you been up to over the summer break?
Unfortunately I’m so busy there’s been no time for a holiday, but I have kept myself extremely busy with racing. In fact I’ve just returned from Spa, driving an Ferrari F430 in the Belcar Championship (formerly the Belgian GT Championship), I was at the Goodwood Festival of Speed with Airwaves BMW and I was privileged enough to be able to drive a 1939 BMW Mille Miglia (1940 Championship winner) up the hill in front of the fans, something I will never forget. I’ve also been driving in the 25 Hour VW Beetle Fun Cup on top of my instructing duties.
What’s been your highlight of the 2010 BTCC season?
Well that’s easy, winning at Thruxton in the vey first race meeting. With the deal with Motorbase Performance being put together so late it was a fantastic feeling. I always knew I was capable of winning, but after snapping a drive shaft in the first race, being on the podium felt great. I am also very proud of being on the podium at every round of the season so far and I hope I can continue to do so in the coming five.
What’s been the worst moment of your season so far?
Well that’s another easy one, qualifying in 15th at Croft and then damaging a radiator in race two. Overall though I don’t think we’ve been too unlucky, but that was definitely a set back, especially with the team’s and my own aspirations.
How are you and the team coping with the new Dunlop tyres?
Well it’s a double-edged sword because in qualifying we have work to do. We are not achieving the desired tyre temperature as quickly as we would like and when we do, managing the grip is a challenge.
Over the race distance however we are certainly on the pace and are one of the best teams on the grid at conserving grip over a full race distance.
With a full test day planned at Snetterton on the 20th we hope we can iron out these issues and improve our qualifying pace.
Which of the next few races are you most looking forward to?
Honestly, all of them! I have always been a fan of Snetterton, but against the straight-line speed of the gas cars it will be a real challenge. The Brands GP circuit is also a favourite, being the team’s local, it’s also famous for its nail-biting finishes and I want to play a part in that. We shall see if it’s the best driver or simply the fastest car that wins the Championship.
So, does that mean you expect to see another classic finish as we had in 2009?
Absolutely. There was so much action at the last round at Croft, big names made mistakes and some of the smaller teams got some big points. If we can improve our qualifying pace then we will be fighting for the Championship come the last race of the season.
With a constant smile on your face, you’re a popular figure on the BTCC grid. Do you find it difficult being a friend in the paddock and a foe out on track?
No, not at all. Every professional racing driver has a job to do and I’m no different in that respect. I just try not to get involved with any politics off the track. I know my capabilities and I don’t need to advertise them, my driving can do the talking.
Is there another driver on the grid you really admire or look up to?
No I wouldn’t say that! I don’t look up to anyone although I do respect them all as they have talent or they wouldn’t be there. When I’m on track I treat all the other drivers the same, although you do drive differently depending on the strengths of their car or even them as drivers.
I suppose I can appreciate someone like Matt Neal’s passing ability as he manages to overtake cleanly and with style where other drivers would simply punt you off. But look up to? No, that’s not the right phrase!
What do you drive when you’re not racing?
I drive a MK V Golf TDi with 102k on the clock. I’m still waiting on the free car from BMW! So if you’re reading, I’ll have an M3 Coupe or a 335d please…in white or black – I’m not fussy!
Half way through the season, are you where you wanted and expected to be in the Championship standings?
With the team in first place in the Independent Championship and second in the overall Teams’ Championship, me in second in the Independent and fifth in the overall Drivers’ Championships, I have to say I’m pretty happy. I truly believe we will be fighting for the top honours and have the capacity to win.
If we can pick up a few spots in qualifying and fight from near the front of the grid, rather than the middle, we have every chance. Our race pace is right up there with the Hondas and Fords, and we’ve nearly always been the fastest BMW. We are confident this coming test day will give us those extra tenths we need – when the flag drops that can make all the difference.
In one word what’s the key to your success as a racing driver?
Enjoyment. If you’re not happy and you don’t really, really want to be in that driving seat, you’ll never win titles or get the best out of yourself. At this level you need everyone including yourself pushing in the same direction 100%.