Support Our Paras Racing and Derek Palmer endured what could best be described as a “character building” weekend in the latest round of the British Touring Car Championship at Knockhill.
Forced to retire in races one and three, and shunted off-track in races one and two, Palmer and his team were left frustrated and reflecting on what might have been.
“This is the first weekend that the pace of the car has been very, very good,” Palmer — whose TENA Men-backed Infiniti Q50 is prepared by injured ex-servicemen from the Parachute Regiment, with all team profits being donated to Support Our Paras, the official Regiment charity — explained.
“The car felt very strong right through the whole weekend. The pace was there, but the frustrating thing was we just couldn’t translate it into a result.
“The boys did an absolutely fantastic job all weekend, and they deserved far more than what we got. The balance of the car was good, and it felt strong; and but for the actions of a couple of other drivers, we’d have delivered some really strong results.”
In the day’s opening race at the 1.27-mile circuit in Fife, Palmer had eased himself up to 19th from 24th on the grid before he was spun on lap nine of the scheduled 24 following contact from the side by the Toyota of Stewart Lines.
The impact pitched Palmer, the 28-year-old Zurich-based Scot from Lesmahagow, into the gravel, and though he managed to rejoin the track he was immediately forced to retire as his car had suffered rear left suspension damage.
In race two, Palmer was denied a potential top 15 result when, again, he was pitched off the track when the Toyota of Robb Holland hit him from behind exiting the Hairpin.
The impact propelled Palmer’s car on to the soggy sloping grassy infield. Beached and unable to gain any traction, the Scot ultimately dropped a lap while marshals pushed his car back on to the track.
“The impact from Robb ruined my race,” Palmer, who eventually finished third-fastest BTCC rookie and 21st overall, explained. “I got beached in the boggy grass on the infield, the car was slithering and sliding about all over the place and I couldn’t get any traction.
“Thankfully the marshals came and pushed me back on to the track, but by that time I’d gone a lap down.
“I’d made a good start, made up about three places and was tucked up right on the rear bumper of Jack Goff, who had Tom Ingram right in front of him.
“I knew they were two good, fast, sensible guys to have in front of me and I knew we’d make progress through the field. The fact Tom went on to finish 13th and Jack 14th shows how far up we potentially could have finished.
“And to rub salt into the wound, it’s not helped by the fact Rob went on to finish 16th!”
To round off a miserable weekend for the team, racing on its home circuit in the BTCC for the first time, Palmer was forced to retire after 15 laps of the final race when his car suffered a broken driveshaft.
“Naturally it’s been disappointing, but in motorsport sometimes you get race weekends like this,” Palmer admitted.
“The main thing is we dust ourselves down and come back out fighting ready to deliver on-track when we head to Rockingham in a fortnight.”
Photos: Copyright Jakob Ebrey