KIDDERMINSTER'S British Touring Car Championship rookie Dan Rowbottom enjoyed his best weekend to date in the UK’s premier race series, with three top 20 finishes capped with a points-scoring result at Thruxton.

In his first season in the Kwik Fit British Touring Car Championship, Rowbottom headed to Thruxton in optimistic mood having raced there earlier in the season and hence having data, knowledge and confidence in his armoury.

In addition, a change of engineering personnel at Ciceley Motorsport meant that his Cataclean Racing Mercedes-Benz A-Class was transformed. Experienced race engineers Paul Ridgway and Steve Farrell made an instant improvement to the car.

From 21st on the grid for the opener, he fought his way up into 20th spot, ahead of three previous BTCC race winners.

“I had a bit of understeer in that race, which made it a little tricky to drive around the back of the circuit where it is very high speed, but importantly it was mileage, more experience and no damage meaning that we have a good base to work on for race two.”

Rowbottom shot the Cataclean Mercedes away from the line in race two but found himself stuck in traffic for the majority of the race, as the ultra-close midfield battle proved to be a tough place to be.

He started race three 20th on the grid and battled his way into the top 15 and the points as the race progressed. Late-race rain made the track like a skating rink as the slick-shod cars struggled for traction, but his race craft brought him up to 14th place for his third points finish of the season.

He said: “That was really good. The car wasn’t quite where I wanted it to be in races one and two, but we worked on it and it was unbelievable in that one! It just got better until the rain came and then, of course, it became a matter of survival on slicks. I made a small mistake passing Tom Chilton, so I reckon I could have been 12th or 13th, but after the season we’ve had I’m really happy with that last race. It’s the first time I have really felt like I was in the race proper, racing hard and being part of the fight rather than chasing it.

“I’m really pleased with how Ciceley Motorsport has looked at the pace and set-up of the car and the difference that Paul and Steve have made has been instant so I go to Knockhill much more confident now. The season starts here for Cataclean Racing.”

The Kwik Fit British Touring Car Championship moves to Knockhill, Dunfermline, on September 14 and 15. Qualifying will be shown live on with all the raceday action live on ITV4 on Sunday, September 15.