Adam Morgan left the opening round of the British Touring Car Championship at Donington Park in an optimistic mood, after a trio of points finishes and only just missing out on a podium in race three.
Morgan, continuing for a seventh straight season with his family-run Mercedes-Benz A-Class, had qualified in tenth on Saturday, just over half a second from pole, despite opting not to change over his front and rear tyres due to the threat of rain.
Race one didn’t live up to the promise of his qualifying result, however, as the 31-year-old dropped back at the start and then endured contact with MB Motorsport’s Sam Osborne which dropped him further back.
Contact with Ollie Jackson when fighting inside the top ten then dropped Morgan back to 17th, although he was able to recover to 12th for a handful of points before the chequered flag flew.
Race two saw improvements for the Lancashire racer, who hauled himself up to eighth by the end, and earned him a fifth-place start for the reverse-grid final race.
From the third row of the grid, Morgan fought in the leading pack for much of the race, but he just missed out on a podium as he brought his Mercedes home in fourth, having suffered from increased tyre wear due to the 18 kg of success ballast on board.
Morgan believes that he could have found more single-lap pace in his car at the weekend, but was pleased with how the car was handling compared to last season.
“I’m convinced that there was another tenth left in me, but I didn’t quite extract it,” said Morgan after qualifying. “However, the car feels great.
“We had a brake issue back at the season launch day but, with a lot of effort by engineer Steve Farrell, we have been through the data, found the problem and cured it. The car feels so much more driveable now.
“I was a bit disappointed in [race one]. I lost places at the start and then contact with Sam didn’t help, but the real rub was Jackson taking me off.
“I never really got into a rhythm in that race, but it sure is good to be back racing!
“[Race two] felt a lot better. I was fully on it in that race and the car felt really good. I set the third fastest race lap and made progress up the order, so a lot of boxes were ticked. I’m a happy chap!
“I pushed a bit too hard too early I think [in race three]. The pace was really quick, and I just asked a bit too much of the left front, so as the race wore on I couldn’t quite have a go at Josh [Cook] for third. It was close, but I just didn’t quite have the final tenth to attack him.
“Fourth was a good result to end the weekend, though, and the car feels so much better than last year that I am very positive about Brands Hatch next weekend. The Mercedes feels like a new car!”
Ciceley Motorsport’s Commercial Director Norman Burgess was pleased to see Morgan, who leaves the event in ninth place in the drivers’ standings, once again challenging near the front.
“It was a great way to end the weekend which had a very different feel to it,” said Burgess. “On-track, the racing was as exciting as ever and it was amazing to see Adam running up at the front and in a car that gave him so much confidence.
“Off-track, it felt strange not having our Carlube Triple R, Mac Tools guests and friends with us but we can’t wait to welcome them back to the circuits.
“I am sure that they enjoyed the ITV4 coverage and Adam’s results underline that our sponsors are with one of the top teams in the Kwik Fit British Touring Car Championship.”