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News 2007: Howell Scores Season's Best for Motorbase Performance

Rounds 10, 11 and 12 of the Dunlop MSA British Touring Car Championship, Croft

Gareth Howell scored a fifth place finish for Motorbase Performance in the second race at Croft in North Yorkshire - the best result of the season so far for the Kent-based team - providing a boost on an otherwise challenging weekend.

Gareth HowellOnce again there was very little separating Howell and teammate Matt Allison in qualifying – less than one tenth of a second in fact – leaving the pair to line up 12th and 13th on the grid for Sunday's first race.

That first race started well for both Motorbase Performance drivers, but for Matt Allison, whose car was completely rebuilt after a heavy crash at Thruxton, it came to a premature end when he collected a couple of tyres that were thrown onto the track by one of the leaders. The high-speed impact caused significant damage to the front end of his Toledo Cupra.

"I'm extremely gutted", said Allison after retiring to the pits. "I was minding my own business when all of a sudden the tyres came across the track in front of me. One of the cars in front had hit them on their way through. I tried to avoid them, but I couldn't. It's done quite a lot of damage to the car."

Gareth HowellHowell finished the race in tenth and so lined up on the fifth row of the grid for race two. He was able to pick off positions as the race went on, finding his way through to fifth by the chequered flag, to secure the best result of the season for Motorbase Performance.

For Matt Allison, there was further misfortune as he was taken out of the race by Fabrizio Giovanardi as the Vauxhall driver returned to the track after a spin. Yet again it left Allison with nothing but a damaged car to show for his efforts.

Race three did not get any better for Allison, as his weekend came to a disappointing conclusion. Starting from the back of the grid, the reigning British GTC champion climbed up to 11 th position before he was forced to retire with a gear linkage.

Allison said, "I think I could have finished about eighth in the second race if I hadn't been taken out. That would have put me second on the grid for race three, so things could have been so different. If you look at the results of the third race, Mat Jackson finished third and his fastest lap was two tenths of a second slower than mine.

"I finished nine out of the first ten races, so to not finish any here is really disappointing. We could do with finding a bit more pace in qualifying. If you look at our race pace, we're well up there, but we just need to get a bit further up the grid."

Matt AllisonHowell was also struck down with bad luck in race three. Starting fifth, he had just passed the Honda Integra of John George when Mike Jordan, who followed him through the gap, was catapulted into the side of the Toledo, sending Howell into the gravel on the outside of the Sunny corners.

Howell said, "Fifth was good in the second race and then we'd started well in race three. I'd just got past John George going into Sunny In, and then Mike Jordan hit the side of my car, which knocked me off the track. It's a shame because we could have had another good result."

Matt AllisonMotorbase Performance team principal David Bartrum said, "It's been another weekend of 'what ifs'. Everything seems to be going against us at the moment. It's been a bit like dodgems out there today – the cars have had a lot of damage again."

Motorbase Performance will be hoping for a change in the fortunes when they head to Oulton Park in Cheshire for rounds 13, 14 and 15 over the weekend of 23/24 June.

Race results (provisional)

Round 10
1. Colin Turkington (BMW 320si E90)
2. Gordon Shedden (Honda Civic)
3. Matt Neal (Honda Civic)
4. Darren Turner (SEAT Leon)
5. Mike Jordan (Honda Integra)
10. Gareth Howell (SEAT Toledo Cupra)
DNF Matt Allison (SEAT Toledo Cupra)

Round 11
1. Darren Turner (SEAT Leon)
2. Jason Plato (SEAT Leon)
3. Mike Jordan (Honda Integra)
4. Mat Jackson (BMW 320si E90)
5. Gareth Howell (SEAT Toledo Cupra)
DNF Matt Allison (SEAT Toledo Cupra)

Round 12
1. Fabrizio Giovanardi (Vauxhall Vectra)
2. Tom Onslow-Cole (BMW 320si E90)
3. Mat Jackson (BMW 320si E90)
4. Gordon Shedden (Honda Civic)
5. Darren Turner (SEAT Leon)
DNF Matt Allison (SEAT Toledo Cupra)
DNF Gareth Howell (SEAT Toledo Cupra)