Huddersfield’s Daniel Lloyd concluded his 2018 Dunlop MSA British Touring Car Championship campaign in superb style over the weekend, securing 3 points-scoring finishes for his BTC Norlin Racing Team during a dramatic season finale on the world-famous Brands Hatch GP circuit (September 29/30).
A strong start to the weekend’s proceedings saw Lloyd claim 5th during Saturday’s afternoon qualifying session, which included a Honda top 5 lock-out at the front of the grid. It was an excellent comeback by the Yorkshireman who set his best lap time just 2 tenths off pole position after the #26 car crew were forced to perform a swift engine change to the Honda Civic Type R between the morning’s two free practise sessions.
“We had an engine leak in FP1, so to be safe we had to change it;” commented Lloyd. “The guys had to pull out all of the stops to get it sorted in time for the next session. They did a great job to turn the car around so quickly so P5 in qualify was a great way to thank them for their efforts. I was really pleased with how the session went. I managed to hook up a mega lap and missed pole by just 2 tenths.”
Running on the prime Dunlop tyre, Lloyd defended his position well in the opening race. With the soft-tyre coming into the play early on in the 15 lap contest, 26-year-old Lloyd held-out well under relentless pressure from the chasing pack to take the flag in 6th.
“We really struggled with the handling in race 1;” explained Lloyd. “The car had a lot of over-steer and was quite a handful. It was a good result to hold onto 6th all things considered. The cars running on the soft tyre all came on quite quickly, so we did well to finish the race that high up in the order. It was a really good start to the day.”
A classic elbows-out BTCC battle followed in race 2, with Lloyd coming under an immediate challenge from Moffat on the opening lap – dropping him down the 7th. A safety car appearance on the 7th tour of the circuit allowed the pack to regroup but unfortunately put Lloyd into the firing line of a 3-way attack from Ingram, Tordoff, and Chilton – swamping the Civic Type R.
Having survived that battle, Lloyd looked to be finding some space before a late lunge from eventual BTCC Champion Turkington tipped him into a huge sideways drift as he headed down Paddock Hill. Thankfully, an outstanding save by Lloyd prevented a potentially huge incident, but the manoeuvre did cost the Yorkshireman a strong top 7 place finish, and he eventually ended the race in 13th.
“Race 2 was all about trying to get into the reverse grid draw as we had the soft option tyre to run in the final. But then I seemed to just keep getting hit. We got off to a good start but once I got behind Brett Smith he backed me up into everyone and I took the brunt. It was one of the toughest and most physical races I’ve ever had.
“I’m not really sure what happened with Turkington as he was quite far behind me. I wasn’t even defending at that point. I took the corner as normal and then Colin just fired into the back of me. Thankfully I managed to save it and not get hit by anyone else, but it dropped me right back which was really disappointing.”
Running on the soft-option tyre for the final race of the season, Lloyd made an excellent start taking two places on the opening lap. Breaking into the top 10 as the laps unfolded, Lloyd charged to the line to claim his 3rd points-finish of the weekend to end his 2018 campaign on a strong note.
“We were really quick off the mark in race 3;” added Lloyd. “I got up behind Jordan’s BMW but then the engine started overheating in the dirty air and we lost some pace. Another top 10 finish was a decent result though.
In spite of missing the opening 9 races of the 30-round series, Lloyd ended the year in a credible 18th place in the overall standings (out of 41 competitors) and 11th out of 30 in the Independent Drivers’ Championships, with the BTC Norlin Racing Team claiming 4th spot in the Indy Teams’ points and 9th overall.
“Even though we didn’t do the full season, this has been my longest stint in the BTCC and I’ve really enjoyed it. I have to say a huge thanks to Bert Taylor and the BTC Norlin Racing Team for their support and hard work this year.
“I have a lot to be grateful for. This season has given me probably the most memorable win of my career. It’s been a really special year and great to get some momentum behind it all. I’d definitely like to come back next year. There’s a lot happening behind the scenes and I’m looking forward to seeing that brings over the winter.”