With a slender five point advantage at the top of the British Touring Car Championship standings as the series enters it’s six concluding races, Sam Tordoff is hoping that improvements made to the BMW 125i M-Sport package this season will pay dividends at Silverstone as he continues to work towards a maiden title.
Tordoff, who claimed his second race victory and ninth podium finish of the campaign at Rockingham Motor Speedway a fortnight ago [27th-28th August], managed to turn around what seemed a dismal weekend after qualifying a disappointing 27th amid torrentially wet conditions.
However, a champion’s drive in the middle contest on race day saw the 27-year old scythe through from tenth on the grid to claim an impressive victory ahead of an equally resurgent Andrew Jordan.
Once back up to a full quota of success ballast and having made the compulsory switch to the harder compound of Dunlop tyre, Tordoff’s progress in the final race was hampered as he slipped back to 16th, and outside the points. A mixed weekend for his main title challenger, Matt Neal, ensured that Tordoff heads to the penultimate meeting with his lead mostly intact despite the dramas.
Reflecting on the first of two successive visits to Northamptonshire to TouringCars.Net, Tordoff admitted he was pleased to leave with his points advantage despite a frustrating lack of performance in the final race.
“We struggled in race three with the hard tyre [and] full ballast,” said tordoff. “We were a sitting duck from lap one so that turned out to be terrible, but what a lovely position to be in. To score any points in amazing, to only lose [four] points in the championship lead from where we were [is amazing].”
He was also pleased to find a reference for the raw performance of the BMW 1-series with no ballast on board and at full power, as was the case during his race-winning drive in the second event at Rockingham.
“I’m obviously hampered a bit with weight, and that’s probably reflected in qualifying, it just goes to show when we take the weight off in race two, that’s the pace we have.”
The former works MG driver also admitted he was glad to see the back of Rockingham, citing it as the weakest circuit of the final three to contend with, from his perspective.
“I’m glad we’ve gotten the hard tyre out of the way and I’m glad we’ve got Rockingham out of the way, to be honest. Of the three left, that was probably going to be the tricky one, and it proved to be the case unfortunately. We struggled last year, I thought we would make inroads – we didn’t.
“From hereon in, I’m looking forward to Silverstone and Brands, I don’t think the weight will neccesarily hurt as much there as it has done here.”
TouringCars.Net reported a suggestion in setup change from Tordoff’s engineer was also pivotal to his success in race two, something that he believes could potentially be replicated at future events to enhance performance.
“Potentially. It was a bit of a gamble in terms of setup that we’d never done before. It’s no longer a gamble – we know it works, it’s just whether we choose to pursue that route for Silverstone, or we go back to what we know and play it safe. We’ve got two weeks to decide on our strategy.”
A single podium finish with third in the reverse grid contest was Tordoff’s reward on the series’ annual visit to the home of the British Grand Prix last season, though with former team-mate Andy Priaulx taking a race victory in identical machinery on that same occasion, Tordoff believes the improvements to his car’s engine across the season could stand him in good stead.
“I think it’ll be okay. The engine’s better, and we actually did very well there last year, even with the engine deficit. In the tow, we were alright and we could hang on. I’m going to need a little bit of luck, but I still think we can qualify in the top ten.”