Paras Racing’s Derek Palmer has had a difficult début season in the British Touring Car Championship (BTCC), despite the fact that his Infiniti Q50 has showed gradually increased pace towards the end of the 2015 campaign.
The Scotsman was on course to take his second points finish of the year at Rockingham Motor Speedway this past weekend during the final race, but a series of clashes in all three races brought another weekend to an unwelcome result.
Race one saw Palmer being spun out, before Team BMR’s Warren Scott and Dextra Racing’s Alex Martin clashed with the Scot in race two.
“Warren hit me, but he came and apologised immediately after the race,” Palmer said.
“It was just a simple racing incident as the field concertinaed. I’d then fought back from last to 24th when I eased myself down the inside of Alex Martin’s Ford.
“From my perspective, and from what everyone saw on the TV, I was clearly ahead of him as we exited the corner, but then he turned me around. First there was contact halfway down my car, then he tapped me again on the rear-left, and that spun me on to the grass.
“Somehow I managed to keep the car out of the wall, and just as well because otherwise the damage would have been a lot worse than it was. Worth noting that while Warren immediately came and apologised, I haven’t heard anything from Alex.”
Having initially had contact with Dan Welch in the early goings of the final race, Palmer was spun out, before making an impressive recovery back to 15th.
“I knew we had a fast car in the final race, and I was able to fight my way through to 15th, on course to score our second full championship point and equal our best finish of the season,” said the Lanark-born driver.
“But on the last lap, I got caught out by gravel, which had been pulled on to the track, when another car had – ironically – been towed to safety.”
Despite taking a bit more caution to keep his points hopes alive, disaster struck in the final minutes, which saw him finish 21st.
“Annoyingly, I’d actually braked earlier than I had previously, because I knew I was on the final lap and I wasn’t under any pressure.
“It was just like being on marbles. I braked, turned-in, and the car just kept going straight on into the gravel. And that was it: race over.
“Of course I’m personally disappointed, but I’m more gutted for all the guys because they’ve worked so hard right through the whole weekend. I’d have loved to have been able to reward them with a top 15 finish, and another championship point.”
Apart from his final race dramas, the 27-year-old was “boosted” by the strides that the team has made so far, despite the disappointment, and is hopeful that the team has better luck at Silverstone in just over a fortnight’s time.
“But we’ve got to take a lot of positives out of this weekend. I’m so happy with how I performed, especially in the final race, and the Paras made the car much more competitive.
“And to pass other drivers — guys who had been faster than us earlier in the weekend — with our true race pace was really encouraging. It confirms to us that we’re making real progress. Remember, this was our first time at Rockingham.”