Chris Stockton cut a frustrated figure after an engine problem ruled him out of further competition at this weekend’s British Touring Car Championship meeting at Croft.
The 45-year-old had run well during Saturday’s opening practice session at the Yorkshire circuit, but the gremlins that have so far plagued his return to the sport made another untimely appearance shortly after the start of second practice, where Stockton still recorded the 27th fastest time despite completing only five laps.
But after inspecting the issue, his team were left with no option but to curtail their Chevrolet Cruze’s action for the weekend, as Stockton explained to TouringCars.Net.
“We’ve had a valvetrain failure,” said a crestfallen Stockton. “We thought the problem had been engineered out of the engine but unfortunately we’ve had some parts fail, which has led to us having to pull out of this weekend.”
And the Power Maxed Racing driver admitted that the withdrawal was particularly disappointing given the encouraging form he had shown earlier in the day.
“Early on, on laps three and four it [the car] was relatively good, much more competitive – it was halfway up the grid instead of at the back end of the grid.
“But it had a misfire literally from about lap three and it just got worse and worse and we couldn’t solve it.”
That issue means that the first half of the season is now over for Stockton and his team, but while the Chester driver was sorry for those who had invested both financially and emotionally in his squad, he insisted that his focus was to rectify the reliability problems that have blighted his season.
“We’ve just had quite a long meeting about it [the second half of the season],” said Stockton. “It’s a really difficult one because we’ve got to get some reliability – it’s not even about track position or where we are on the grid.
“We’ve got sponsors who have been absolutely mega to stand by us but at the end of the day we’ve got 65 guests here tomorrow and they want to see a car on the grid – they wouldn’t even mind it being last on the grid – not being on the grid is desperately disappointing for them and for us.
“We’ve got to take a serious sit down here. Five weeks may sound a long time but I was just talking to Neil [his engineer] and he thinks it is going to be extremely tight to engineer the issues out of that engine that we know we’ve got.”