- Cole & Hines combine to record four top-20 placings
United Autosports returned to its Leeds workshop today knowing many positives had been achieved in the three Dunlop MSA British Touring Car Championship races at Silverstone last weekend.
Indeed the Anglo-American team was on course to achieve its best cumulative results of the season. James Cole and new team-mate Luke Hines, despite the latter’s very limited mileage in the Toyota Avensis and returning to the BTCC after a nine-year absence, recorded four top-20 placings in the opening two races. But for Cole being used as “target” practice once more and an unfortunate puncture for Hines, the team could have had a very successful weekend.
Cole and Hines had respectively recorded the 21st and 26th fastest times in qualifying on Saturday afternoon around the 1.64-mile National circuit. James was just 0.751secs off pole position such was the closeness of the 31-car field while Luke’s best lap time was disallowed for exceeding track limits.
In the opening 22-lap race, Cole and Hines claimed 19th and 20th places. The duo were the best-placed Toyotas with Hines posting his fastest two race laps in the final third of the race as he became more accustomed to the Avensis.
A red-flag after 20-laps in race two deprived Cole and Hines of moving higher up the results – nevertheless again the highest-placed Toyotas pairing – before an opening lap accident collision (Cole) and a puncture (Hines) ended their final race’s prematurely.
#20 Drivecool / Autoglym / HELLA – Toyota Avensis
James Cole (GB)
Age: 26. Born: Southport, England. Lives: Liverpool, England.
“This weekend has been the most positive of the season from a car set-up point of view. We are now understanding what it takes to be quick in this championship. The car is very good in qualifying. I can’t fault the set-up and all of the work the team are doing. We just seem a little down on top-end speed. The opening two races were good with top-20 results but in the final race I was hit from behind before being ploughed in to the side on lap one. I’m going to be sore tomorrow but hopefully the car isn’t too damaged.”
#23 Grand Prix Racewear / Autoglym / HELLA – Toyota Avensis
Luke Hines (GB)
Age: 32. Born: Hoddesdon, Herts. Lives: Silverstone, N’thants.
“A throttle sensor affected my runs in both practice and qualifying which restricted my running in the second practice. The latter was eventful using new tyres for the first time – I may have been a little too aggressive and I had my fastest lap disallowed [for exceeding track limits].
“In Sunday’s opening race, I made a poor start due to too much wheel spin but achieved my target of a top-20 place first time out for the team. I had a better start in race two with my pace improving as the race went on. I made my best start of the weekend for the final race and the Toyota was getting better and better. With a top-15 result on the cards a tyre blew up due to debris going into Copse.”
Richard Dean, Team Owner and Managing Director, United Autosports:
“We started the weekend with a few difficulties with Luke’s car which meant he had very little running in practice one and two but we got the car sorted for qualifying and the races. Both cars ran well in races one and two. James and Luke made up places from their staring positions and they were happy with the cars performance. Race three was a write off from the first lap. James’ accident with Robb Holland has severely damaged the car and Luke’s unfortunate incident with the puncture meant we had two DNFs when both drivers were looking and feeling positive. It’s just the story of our season but we will go to the final round at Brands Hatch hoping to end the season on a higher note.”
September 27-28 Silverstone
Rd 25 Qualifying: 21st #20, 59.262s; 26th #23, 59.899s. Weather: Bright/dry.
Race: 19th #20, +36.140s; 20th #23, +28.502s. Weather: Bright/dry.
Rd 26 Start Pos: 19th #20; 20th #23.
Race: 19th #20, +19.626s; 20th #23, +20.923s. Weather: Bright/dry.
Rd 27 Start Pos: 19th #20; 20th #23.
Race: Not Classified #20; Not Classified#23. Weather: Cloudy/dry.
Drivers' Championship: 22nd #21, Geddie, 15pts; 25th #20 Cole, 5pts
HiQ Teams’ Championship: 14th, 22pts
Independents Team Trophy: 11th, 135pts