Tom Boardman had an up and down season in the 2011 Dunlop MSA British Touring Car Championship, experiencing some high points throughout the ten weekend season as well as some low points.
Speaking to TouringCars.Net before the Autosport Show at the NEC in Birmingham, the popular Boardman looks back over the 2011 campaign and into the future.
He doesn’t expect many teams’ to announce their plans this weekend: “I don’t expect many teams’ to announce their driver line up’s this weekend, I know Shaun Hollamby will be announcing his.
“It seems a bit too early to announce driver line up’s. Once a sponsorship deal is secured, and then most pay drivers could announce their plans.”
Having returned to the series for 2011 with his own family team, Special Tuning Racing, Boardman was at the wheel of the #22 SEAT Leon with the new NGTC Turbocharged engine from Lehmann in Liechtenstein.
He had one personal highlight from the season: “The win at Knockhill is my personal highlight,” explains Boardman.
“It was my first ever win in the BTCC and the win just made my season.”
On the flip side from his win at Knockhill, his home event at Oulton Park saw him caught up in an unfortunate accident on the final lap of the first race, having recovered from the back of the grid with an inspired tyre choice, having opted for slicks all round on a damp but drying circuit.
“My particular low point was at Oulton Park,” reminisces Boardman. “I was T-Boned after Jeff Smith went on to the wet grass and slid into the side of me.
“It was the first accident of my career which I didn’t expect to happen. It caused a lot of damage to the car.”
The previous race weekend at Thruxton had seen Boardman secure his maiden podium result – as he finished third behind Jason Plato and Mat Jackson.
“I was thinking great, let’s keep scoring the podium finishes for the Championship,” said Boardman.
“I ended up with a lot of DNF’s throughout the season and wound up eleventh overall, which wasn’t what I expected.”
One of the major talking points from the 2011 campaign was the issue of parity between the four different types of car on the grid – the full NGTC cars, the S2000 with NGTC engine, full S2000 and BTC Spec – and for Boardman, he would have done one thing differently, as he explains.
“Yes, I’d have allowed us to get more out of the engine. The car could have been more on the pace without all of the boost restrictions.
“Chevrolet were getting concerned that the Turbocharged cars were getting too quick and so the restrictions were introduced.
“We’re not a works team, so the restrictions didn’t do us any favours as the season progressed. Most of the teams were affected by the restrictions on the turbo boost.”
Looking back over the 2011 campaign, were there any teams or drivers who impressed Boardman?
“No, I was thinking about my own job,” said Boardman. “We were trying to do a better job than all of the other teams.
“A lot of the teams’ did do a good job during the season though.”
2011 saw the 2005 SEAT Cupra Champion driving a turbocharged SEAT Leon, having driven a normally aspirated car the previous two seasons, as in 2009 he drove a petrol SEAT Leon alongside Tom Coronel in the World Touring Car Championship, securing an Independents’ victory at Brands Hatch.
How did he find the switch from the two litre normally aspirated engine to the two litre turbocharged engine?
“It wasn’t so bad,” explains Boardman. “I’ve driven a turbocharged car before, the SEAT Cupras in the UK and Spain were turbocharged so for me, it is nothing new.
“The only difference is the fact that it’s not a one make Championship but it features different cars.
“It normally takes about ten laps to adapt to a new car.”
Rounding up the 2011 season how would one of the fans favourites sum up his season as a whole?
“A very mixed bag,” said Boardman. “I wanted more from the season overall. It was a very mixed bag but a very rewarding season.”
“It is very hard to predict,” said Boardman, who was part of a record breaking BTCC field at Silverstone back in October, as thirty cars took to the grid.
“My focus is on the WTCC. There are more championships and they all look promising.
With the 2012 season, Boardman only knows of the three Chevrolet drivers as confirmed, while Special Tuning Racing and Team Aon have declared their intentions to join the series.
“I know Team Aon have shaken down their car,” said Boardman. “We will be using a new engine from SEAT Sport for 2012, while SUNRED, I don’t know whether they’ll use theirs or the SEAT developed unit.”
Speaking about the future of the BTCC, Boardman said: “The BTCC should go from strength to strength with the NGTC regulations, and the racing should get better then it was in 2011, and the grids should continue to rise.
“I’d also like to see a rolling start included, I’d like to know why there isn’t one. One rolling start race and two standing start races.”
“I’m very disappointed,” explains Boardman. “It hasn’t been fully confirmed that the series is going to Argentina, as the circuit has yet to be confirmed.
“I’m keeping my fingers crossed that the Argentinean round is cancelled and that the UK can be returned to the calendar, as I’m sure a number of drivers will be.
There were rumours that Knockhill could have taken over the hosting of the UK round from Donington Park, as the Scottish circuit has been upgraded to the required level.
This is something Boardman would have loved: “Knockhill would have been amazing, as they have made the required changes to the kerbs.
“The rolling start wouldn’t have been a problem either – we’re touring car drivers, right?” he added.
Having competed in the 2009 campaign, Boardman has visited most of the circuits on the calendar in 2012. There is one circuit that he is looking forward to racing at in 2012: “I’m looking forward to racing in America.
“They love their motorsport there, I’ve never raced there and Infineon Raceway looks good, having seen it on video games.”
On a personal level, how are the 2012 plans for Boardman coming along?
“Good, it’s coming along very well,” he added. “We’ve had a lot of meetings with drivers concerning a drive with us.
“All we know is we‘ll soon be on the grid!”
Boardman will start his FIA World Touring Car Championship at Monza over the 10/11 March while the teams’ BTCC season starts at Brands Hatch over the 31 March/1 April, while the official Media Day is at Silverstone in the 19 March.