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Bobby Thompson: ‘Knockhill was memorable for all the wrong reasons’

Bobby Thompson endured a weekend to forget in the British Touring Car Championship at Knockhill, after oil line issues and damage resulted in a points-less weekend for the Team HARD driver.

Thompson issues began early, as in first practice he suffered an off-track excursion which ripped off his front splitter and left him sitting out the second practice session.

Then, in Saturday’s qualifying session, a loose oil line caused his Volkswagen to leave a line of oil around most of the circuit, causing an early, and lengthy, red flag stoppage that also curtailed Thompson’s efforts to post a lap time.

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The damage to Thompson’s engine also necessitated an overnight change of engine to a new Swindon Engines power unit.

That left the 22-year-old starting race one from the back of the grid – but he failed to even make the start when officials spotted oil leaking from his Volkswagen on the grid.

“It is tough to summarise a race that basically didn’t happen,” said Thompson. “We got the car back to the garage and the engine builders from Swindon checked to make sure it still had all its oil, which it did.

“It was simply a case of some of yesterday’s oil that went into the sills under the car started leaking out as the car warmed up.

“This was more frustrating than yesterday as we knew that nothing was wrong with the car and that basically killed our weekend, but I understand what the officials were saying, and you can’t have a car that is leaking oil going out on track, especially in conditions like we had.”

With the rain intensifying in race two, Thompson was ultimately taken out by a competitor when slowing for the safety car, leaving him with a retirement despite re-joining the race three laps down.

Then in race three, from 24th on the grid, Thompson managed to make slight progress to finish the race in 20th on a slippery circuit.

“My first trip to Knockhill was certainly a memorable one, even if it was for all the wrong reasons,” reflected Thompson. “The track itself is awesome, but it is just a pity that we only managed a handful of laps when it was dry.

“I was still pretty confident on race morning when we saw that all the races were going to be wet, but missing race one was just a killer and we never recovered from that.

“I’ve always said that I love racing in the rain but race two was the worst conditions I’ve ever experienced.

“Being at the back meant I couldn’t see a thing but I picked up a couple of places and was moving forwards.

“Obviously someone behind me misjudged their braking in the spray and gave me a whack which meant I had to pit and lost three laps.

“But I knew that others would have problems and so we went back out as we only did seven laps yesterday and none in race one.

“Even with no time to adjust the set-up our lap times were in the top fifteen and a 12th row starting slot is much better than a 16th row starting slot, especially in those conditions.

“If only race three was race one then our weekend would have been a lot different. The car was really good and I could just attack with confidence in the grip levels although I think I used the rear tyres a bit too much as in the last couple of laps they started to go off and Jason was able to pass me back right at the end.”

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