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News 2008: Impressive Pace at BTCC Opener for Motorbase Performance

Rounds 1, 2 & 3 of the 2008 HiQ MSA British Touring Car Championship at Brands Hatch

Motorbase Performance drivers Steven Kane and Rob Collard made a strong start to the 2008 HiQ MSA British Touring Car Championship at Brands Hatch this weekend, mixing it with the top manufacturer-backed cars.

Steven Kane, Brands HatchIn what is still early days with the pair of new BMW 320si E90s, Collard and Kane both enjoyed runs inside the top ten, with Kane taking a second place finish in the independents' championship. It was an impressive debut outing which hinted at the potential for a strong showing this year. However, the opening weekend of touring car action also confirmed pre-season suspicions that the level of competition is going to be extremely high this year, with a dozen drivers covered by less than a second in qualifying.

Making his BTCC debut, 27 year-old Steven Kane, from Newtownards in Northern Ireland, qualified in eighth position, just 0.419 seconds off the pace of pole position man Mat Jackson. It could have been even better for Kane, too, as he was on an even quicker lap when the half-hour session was stopped because of a car in a dangerous position.Kane turned eighth position on the grid into an eighth place finish in the opening race, but not before he enjoyed a tussle with double BTCC champion Matt Neal. Kane was able to defend initially, but as the rain started to fall on Brands Hatch, the front-wheel drive Vectra had the edge over Kane's rear-wheel drive BMW.

Rob Collard, Brands HatchFor Collard, the first race brought a 12th place finish, with signs of much more pace to come. Unfortunately the Hampshire-based racer, his chance to demonstrate this pace did not come in the second race of the day. Just five laps into round two, Collard was hit from behind going into Paddock Hill Bend, sending him spinning into the gravel trap on the outside of the circuit and into retirement.

"I had an alternator problem, which meant I had slowed along the straight", said Collard. "I pulled right over going into Paddock but I got a tap from behind from Stephen Jelley. I really thought I was going to hit the barrier, so it was a relief when I stopped short."

The damage to Collard's BMW was minor, so he was at least able to start race three, albeit from the back of the grid. His pace was once again evident though, as he climbed up to 11th position by the end of the race.

Steven Kane, Brands HatchCollard added, "We were running well in the first two races, but starting from the back in the third one made it so much harder. We're getting to know the car better all the time, and I think there is a lot more to come."

Steven Kane was also the victim of a rear-end shunt in race two. He was running on the edge of the top ten when he was turned into the pitwall on the entry to the start-finish straight. With the subframe of his BMW 320si E90 damaged, it was a frustrating early end to Kane's maiden BTCC outing.

"We've got some real positives to take away from this weekend", said Kane. "It's just a shame it had to end the way it did. We know we're on the pace now, so I'm looking forward to going to Rockingham. We're making progress every time we run the car, so it looks positive for the rest of the year."

Steven Kane, Brands HatchMotorbase Performance team principal David Bartrum said, "I'm pleased with the pace we've had this weekend. Considering we're still learning the car, I think things have gone quite well. It's a bit of a shame that we ended up with damage to both cars, but we'll get them sorted in time for Rockingham and I'm sure we'll continue to move in the right direction.

"It's going to be such a competitive season. There are so many cars that are capable of winning races. We might not have the outright pace of some of the others at the moment, but it's only a tenth of a second or so and when you're racing that's not much at all."

Rounds four, five and six of the 2008 HiQ MSA British Touring Car Championship take place at Rockingham, Northamptonshire on 12/13 April.