Team ES Racing driver Dave Newsham set the fastest time in last Monday’s open BTCC test at Silverstone with his team mate Chris James also finishing in the top ten. TcT spoke to both drivers after the session about their impressions of the ex-Triple Eight Vauxhall Vectras and their aims and rivals for the 2012 season.
TcT: How are you finding the Vectra?
CJ: “Everyone said the Lacetti is a great chassis. If the Lacetti is a great chassis the Vectra is a chassis that is out of this universe. From being handicapped with a normally aspirated engine last year to have the turbo this year is out of this world for me personally. It’s so progressive it’s a different league. It’s a proven package and we did a deal with Triple Eight [Race Engineering] to get the data and the setups. We’re not reinventing the wheel we’re just going with their setups and then tweaking them to our driving styles. It’s a quick car. Media day is only media day, but it will go down in history that Team ES Racing was number one on media day 2012. We don’t want to put ourselves under too much pressure, but we’re aiming for much bigger things this year. The Team is a different team.”
DN: “The car is just awesome. I can push it 100%, almost from the first lap I drove it. It’s so easy to drive, so stable and good over the curves. It does everything I want it to do, so it’s just putting it into a lap time.”
TcT: Has the Triple Eight Race Engineering data and setups been useful?
CJ: “Hugely. You can compare how James [Nash] and Tony [Gilham] did last year and look at the conditions and what they did. I’m still running the 2011 engine so I can absolutely pitch myself against what James did. What we’re hoping is that the NGTC guys take a few rounds to find their feet. We want to make hay while the sun shines, we’ve got the data, we’ve got the proven package, we want to get out there and score some points and podiums.”
DN: “Yes, the setups especially because we don’t have to guess anything. We’re just putting on what James Nash ran around here [Silverstone] last year so that’s a massive help. Looking at James’ data I’ve learnt a little bit from it, his throttle application and things like that. There are elements where I’m quicker than him as well.”
TcT: Is a podium possible at Brands?
CJ: “I think it’s definitely possible at Brands. The NGTC guys will be playing catch up on reliability and setup, we think. Though we could be wrong and good luck to them. Our best chance of good results is the first three rounds we feel. So we’re going to Brands and hoping to smash it.”
DN: “I was close to podiums last year in the SEAT. Here [at Silverstone] I got fourth at the end of the season. So I’m up to speed and now I’ve got an even quicker car. So let’s try and carry on where we finished off. I’ve got to be going for podiums and maybe even a win. Reverse grids, you don’t know what these NGTC cars are going to do. They’re just finding their feet and they’re only just fractions behind, so I think we need to make hay early on while these guys are still developing their cars, because they’re going to be quicker at the end there’s no two ways about it. I think ES Racing are going places and hopefully I can help with that. Hopefully it’s a team to be reckoned with in the future.”
TcT: Who do you see as your main rivals this season?
CJ: “We’ve got to be mixing it with the established S2000 teams. WSR and Motorbase, they’ve both got three cars out, we’ve got to be in amongst them. If we’re getting podiums we’ve got to be in amongst everybody. Everybody is a rival!”
DN: “Obviously you know the Hondas are going to be quick and Jason Plato can drive anything so he’ll be quick. But for me in an S2000 car with turbo, Matt Jackson, Rob Collard and Tom Onslow-Cole. These are the guys I need to be there of thereabouts with. Then let’s see what the NGTC cars do.”