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Stephen Jelley admits ‘we can only get better’ after race day disappointment

Team BMW’s Stephen Jelley has admitted that things can ‘only get better’ after he claimed just one points finish in the trio of British Touring Car Championship races held at Brands Hatch Indy.

Jelley showed strong pace on Saturday to be amongst the quickest drivers in first practice, setting the third best time, before going fastest of all in second practice.

With that in mind, he was then disappointed to ‘only’ qualify in third, as part of a WSR 1-2-3, just under two tenths away from team-mate Colin Turkington.

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Rain arrived on race day, and things went downhill for Jelley, who struggled with the rear grip in his 3 Series.

From third on the grid, hew plummeted down the order over the race distance, eventually taking the chequered flag in a lowly 20th place.

That meant he had to start from the tenth row of the grid for race two, and still in the wet, Jelley made only slight progress to 18th, still outside the points.

Further changes to the car in the wetter third race meant Jelley made more progress, finally scoring three points in 13th.

Jelley was left with a sense of ‘what might have been’ after he admitted a lack of wet weather testing had left him and the team with work to do on Sunday.

“In free practice and qualifying we showed that the car is very fast in the dry conditions,” said Jelley. “We were third fastest in FP1 and fastest of all in FP2 so things were looking really good.

“I was actually really disappointed with the performance in qualifying as pole position was there for the taking and it should have been mine, so to end up third quickest was frustrating from my point of view, but a 1-2-3 is a great result for the team.

“In race one, the race car didn’t suit me at all, I had no grip at the rear, and couldn’t put the power down. I probably didn’t cope with it very well.

“We improved the car across Sunday however, so in race two the car was much better, and in race three it was the best it had been in the wet.

“We didn’t test in the wet pre-season, so this was our first wet running of 2022. If we started race one with the car we had in race three, coupled the knowledge I’ve got now, we’d have finished third on the grid and the day would have been completely different.

“Race day has shown that in the damp conditions we’re still vulnerable. It was full wet in the last race and then we had the safety cars to cool the tyres, so the cars performed.

“The weather has been the variable alongside the lack of knowledge for the conditions. We can only get better.”

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