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Dave Newsham looking to solve qualifying form

Dave Newsham believes that his qualifying runs this season have stopped him from competing at the sharp end of the British Touring Car Championship grid, but is adamant that he will be able to race at the front of the field this season.

After the first three rounds of the season, the AmD Tuning driver sits 17th in the championship standings in his first season with the team, having amassed 20 points, including two ninth-placed finishes.

Speaking to TouringCars.Net, Newsham said that while he was satisfied with the start he and the team have made to the season, his main aim is to rectify his qualifying performances which have thwarted his progress through the order.

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“We’re struggling for one lap pace in the car,” said Newsham. “We’ve qualified 20th, 19th and 18th in the three rounds which is a long way back and being that far back you just get involved in all kinds of shenanigans, so the qualifying has been disappointing.

“We’ve got a lot of pace in the car, it’s a great race car, we just can’t get one lap pace out of it.”

Shaun Hollamby’s outfit have previously competed in the series with an s2000 Volkswagen Golf, and with the team now racing with an NGTC Ford Focus, Newsham believes his rivals are at an advantage having already honed their machines.

“We’ve got some good ideas but what we’re doing is we’re turning up at the race meeting and trying a lot of things during free practice and it’s not ideal,” said the Inverness-based driver. “Most people are fine-tuning their cars but we’re making drastic changes during free practice and that puts us on the back foot really because not all the things we try work so you can pretty much waste a whole session just trying something that doesn’t work.

“[That] is what happened at Thruxton – so we tried something completely different, we changed the suspension, shock absorbers and it didn’t work so we had to put it back for qualifying and I was learning the track again with a different car so it’s been tricky, we need to go away and test really, to try a lot of different things away from the public eye.”

But Newsham revealed that organising a test is a much more difficult task for a team of their size.

“I’m hoping so,” said the 46-year-old, when asked if he would be testing the car before next weekend’s meeting at Oulton Park. “It’s just getting us all available at the same time. My engineer is in Canada so it’s finding a time and a circuit where we’re all available, we do want to get out and test in the next couple of weeks but I’m still waiting to find out if that’s possible or not.”

Newsham was nevertheless full of praise for the job Hollamby and the other staff at the outfit continue to do, and was hopeful that he would be able to repay their efforts.

“They’ve done a fantastic job, the car has been completely reliable, we’ve had hardly any issues – we had a small issue at Brands Hatch with the gear change – but other that that it’s been brilliant, the car has been prepared very well.

“Shaun’s a great guy to work with, it’s a really great little team we’ve got here and it would just be nice to give them some decent results which I think will come.”

And with three rounds under the team’s belt for 2014, Newsham was confident that, given his race pace so far this season, he can become a permanent fixture in the top ten.

“At Thruxton I caught Giovanardi up from a long way back and passed him in the first race until I binned it and he finished on the podium at the end of the day so if I hadn’t have had that issue in the first race then we could have got a podium, even won that race.

“So that is still possible, reverse grid podiums and even wins are still definitely possible, I firmly believe that we’ve got enough pace if we can get up there to stay up there.

“We just need to find a decent qualifying setup and then we’ll be right up there – I think our race pace is well inside the top ten.”

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