Unique challenge for eBay Motors at Donington
The eBay Motors team will hope to maintain the strong form they showed at Brands Hatch when the Dunlop MSA British Touring Car Championship heads to Donington Park this weekend.
Rob Collard took his first win since 2009 in race one, while Tom Onslow-Cole also picked up a podium finish on his return to the team. Nick Foster showed encouraging speed in the third car, before an accident in race two brought his weekend to an early end.
The three drivers now head to Donington Park, located next to East Midlands airport, seeking to build on the performance shown by the eBay Motors BMWs on their race debut in round one.
The fast and flowing circuit is one where the BMW should be strong, but how the three drivers perform could largely be down to the track conditions that greet them – with Donington Park providing one challenge that makes it unique to any other circuit.
“Donington is a different circuit to Brands Hatch and it isn’t as tight and twisty,” team boss Dick Bennetts says. “We go there in good shape after Brands Hatch and it’s all down to the team, who have put so much work in over the past month.
“We’ve had some success at Donington in the past, although it isn’t a circuit we would call our favourite. It could all depend on the weather and also the fact that the track can vary by a second a lap. We understand that this is down to aviation fuel being deposited by aircraft leaving the airport. One day it can be blindingly quick and the next time you go there it can be very slippery and you have to re-tune the car to suit those conditions.
“We used to go to Donington testing in Formula Three and would scratch our heads wondering how we were a second slower than the previous time we tested. You can’t see the fuel but sometimes the track just doesn’t have the grip so there is something to the argument.”
While the slippery nature of the Donington circuit could cause the team a headache when it comes to set-up, it provides a bigger challenge for the three drivers on track who leave the pits unaware of what to expect…
“Donington has a strange surface with the unburned air fuel on the circuit making it quite slick,” Onslow-Cole says. “In the wet it can be a lot worse so it’s something you have to watch out for. You have to feel your way in, so it's a case of seeing what grip there is on the warm-up laps as it doesn’t change much - unless they change the flight path mid-race!”
Luckily, fuel spills aren’t something commonly found on the road or on the track, but Onslow-Cole added that it was important to keep an eye out for anything that could lead to a sudden loss of traction.
“On the road, you shouldn’t be near the limit of grip where something like fuel on the road will make a difference,” he says. “Everyone asks us if we drive fast on the road and simple answer is that we don’t – we have a track to speed on. It’s all controlled and between the white lines, there are no drain covers and shouldn’t be any oil or things like that. Obviously at Brands Hatch that wasn’t the case!
“You have to watch ahead and the more info you can take in the better. You don’t want to distract yourself from driving but you can be aware of situations where you may have spillages like roundabouts. Just like us on track, you have to be aware of what is out there.”