KIDDERMINSTER driver Dan Rowbottom’s British Touring Car Championship season continued at Knockhill at the weekend with his strongest showing of the season, despite narrowly missing out on a points haul.

His Cataclean Racing with Ciceley Motorsport Mercedes-Benz A-Class came to Knockhill after a strong showing at Thruxton and the pace was maintained during the qualifying session, in which he secured the 19th best time in a frantic 30 minutes. Despite not having raced at the Scottish venue for 11 years, Rowbottom was frustrated.

“I just couldn’t get a clear lap in,” he said after the session. “With 30 cars on a 1.2-mile track, it’s a real lottery and every time I thought I had found space, someone either aborted a run or came out of the pits ahead of me and I had to back out of my lap, or overtake and lose valuable fractions of a second. I’m only seven-tenths of a second shy of pole, but that counts for a lot.”

After speaking live from the Cataclean Racing Mercedes-Benz A-Class to ITV4 viewers on the green flag laps, he then enjoyed a fierce fight in the opening race with the Volkswagen CC of Bobby Thompson, which included contact at the hairpin, but Rowbottom battled by to snatch 17th place by the end of a frantic race.

For race two, Rowbottom lined up 17th and was instantly on his toes, making progress up to 14th until the car landed badly out of the spectacular Chicane on lap 10.

He fell to 23rd as his tyres deteriorated and he started race three on the regulation, slower, medium tyre.

From 23rd he pushed as hard as he could against much of the opposition on the better and faster prime tyre, and after a great start gained two positions before the first corner.

However, an early safety car period didn’t help his tyres, which struggled to regain temperature and pressure on the restart meaning that they weren’t at their operating best for the resumption on the race. Despite that, he fought on and netted 18th at flagfall, out of the points but having illustrated his ability to race with the best in the BTCC.

“I’m annoyed with myself for the spin in race two,” he reflected. “I don’t often make mistakes but that was one that hurt my race two result and had a knock-on effect for race three.

"This is such a tight and short lap that making good progress is hard, but I am encouraged by the pace of the car and how much easier it feels to drive so in that respect I feel like I am making progress up the order and challenging for places in the mid pack and fringes of the top 10 which is a massive step forwards from the start of the season, so it proves that improvements are being made each time out.”

The next venue for the Kwik Fit British Touring Car Championship is at Silverstone, Northants, on September 28/29.