Photo: PSP Images

First points “like a win” for new boys Excelr8

Sam Osborne said a first BTCC points finish for the Excelr8 team has been “like a win” after he secured his maiden top 15 finish at Snetterton.

The team, best known for its exploits in the MINI Challenge, moved into the series at the start of the year having acquired the two MG6 GTs campaigned last year by AmD, with Osborne and Rob Smith as the driver pairing.

The opening half of the campaign proved to be something of a baptism of fire, with 16th place for Smith in the opening race at Donington being the closest the team had come to scoring a point.

Following a tough outing at Oulton Park, where both cars sustained heavy damage in incidents on track, the team headed into its home event keen to build on a solid performance during the two-day test tyre that took place over the summer break.

Whilst the race weekend wouldn’t pass without dramas thanks to a spin in the second race, former Clio Cup racer Osborne was able to make the most of his tyre strategy to fight his way forwards on the soft rubber in race three and cross the line in 15th spot; making up an additional place later thanks to Jason Plato’s penalty.

That meant two points to his name and also the first points for Excelr8 in the teams’ championship, where only ROKiT Racing with Motorbase has now to score in 2019.

“It’s brilliant,” Osborne said. “To get into the points is like a win for us. The team did an outstanding job this weekend and have been absolutely fantastic. The first race had been a nightmare on the hard tyre but I wanted to get them out of the way, and the car improved across the day.

“It started coming to us when we switched to the medium compound in race two, and then the car was the best it had ever been in race three. When I asked it to do more, it did it, and to bring home my first points finish and the first for the team is just mega.

“To be honest, I didn’t even know where I had finished at first and all I knew was the guys ahead would be somewhere around the top 15 or so. To then discover we’d scored points when I wasn’t sure it would be possible was really good.”

The points finish capped an important weekend for the team, which confirmed on Sunday morning that a deal has been agreed with Draper Tools to remain onboard as a title sponsor for the 2020 campaign.