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Clarke sets sights on maiden top ten finish


Jack Clarke was upbeat about his chances of securing a best finish to date in the British Touring Car Championship at Silverstone after a strong qualifying performance in his Crabbie’s Racing Ford Focus.

The 26-year-old felt confident prior to to the weekend that he could turn in his best performance of the season, on the back of a gritty double-points score at Rockingham and the continuous progression of his car.

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And having finished yesterday’s two practice sessions in 14th and 18th – within a second of the pace in both – Clarke went even better in qualifying, as he secured a career-best 12th on the grid.

The lap, which was 0.431s slower than Jason Plato’s pole position time, marked the first time that the Crabbie’s Racing driver had qualified in the points-paying positions, and the ex-F2 racer was thrilled to see his and his team’s progress pay off.

“The Motorbase guys did a lot of work between Rockingham and here and they’ve found some bits and pieces, some glitches and bugs that we’ve managed to iron out for this one and the car definitely feels a little bit better,” Clarke told TouringCars.Net. “Pair that with me slowly and steadily pushing the curve in the right direction and making it happen myself and I’m just focusing on improving every time.

“That’s been the buzzword for me in the past couple of months and I’m just focusing on getting that done.”

Despite the result proving to be his best qualifying performance by some margin in 2014, Clarke reiterated that the position was the result of hard work on the engineering side of the car, and nothing to do with an inherent preference for Silverstone.

“As great a track as it [Silverstone] is, it’s not somewhere that brings out your style or matches with it; you’ve got to have a bit of discipline, and I’ve just been working really hard with the guys today and in the lead up to this, working with my data engineer and my engineer.

“It’s been a very slow process and it’s required a lot of attention to detail and that’s what gets you  around Silverstone in a quick time – effectively it’s five corners and three of them are crucial, and to have that attention to detail where half a tenth in each of those corners can put you right up the order is imperative.

“I know I can drive – it doesn’t necessarily mean I can drive a touring car but I know I can drive – and I’m slowly beginning to learn how to drive a touring car and apply my basic skills to this discipline. I’m really enjoying it and I’m getting a massive kick out of improving every time.”

And with a first top ten result within touching distance, Clarke believed that a promising race simulation on Saturday – which suggested he might not struggle with tyre degradation as badly as others around him – suggested that his best result to date was more than achievable.

“I hope so – I think the main reason that the answer to that would be yes is my race pace today.

“We did quite a long run on a race simulation and quite frankly the pace was right up there. We’ve not struggled necessarily with tyre degradation issues this year and in fact we’ve been very strong in the latter part of the races so I’m looking forward to keeping it where it is, maybe moving forward – it’s definitely on the cards, I’m confident about that.”

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