Dan Rowbottom ended Oulton Park with his first victory and two podiums as Last Lap retells his masterclass performances after his BTCC hiatus.
He was the ultimate victor from Oulton Park after he shot up from seventh up to third in the standings.
There were more to his impressive finishes after asserting himself as a genuine front-running driver despite a year hiatus from the championship.
Ahead of what will be a guaranteed thriller of a Knockhill weekend, Last Lap dives further into how Dan Rowbottom launched himself up as a potential title contender.
In an interview with Last Lap, he talked about his intentions to pursue strong qualifying performances, as well as making appearances onto the podium spots as he is as ambitious as ever to fight for a title.
Needless to say, he made the most of what he described as a “well-developed car” by showcasing his best BTCC weekend thus far. And here’s how he did it.
There was unfinished business at the previous rounds at Brands Hatch Indy where he marginally secured pole, but was not able to bag a maiden win – though it was his first taste of running at the front.
Such experience was key towards the Oulton Park success.
Qualifying presented a close fight for pole position with the front-wheel drive hatchbacks favouring the track’s narrow, demanding Island configuration.
Halfords Racing with Cataclean’s Honda Civic Type Rs were amongst a number of contenders for that top spot, but it was Senna Proctor who took his first pole in BTC Racing’s Civic Type R.
A fourth spot on the grid was strong for Rowbottom just two places behind ‘Flash’ and a masterclass on a strong getaway awaited.
At lights out, he perfected the start by minimising the wheelspin which enabled the Honda’s front-wheels to find traction, but slotted behind Flash by the first corner in P2.
However, the BTCC returnee was keen to defy his 27 kg ballast after challenging Shedden.
A Red Flag was deployed relative to an incident further down the field involving Tom Oliphant, Jason Plato, Rick Parfitt, and Chris Smiley.
Read our interview with Dan Rowbottom:
- Part 1 – Dan Rowbottom Interview: Being in-and-out of racing, partnering with Cataclean and the Clio Cup Trophy
- Part 2 – Dan Rowbottom Interview: Debuting into the BTCC, trying some NASCAR, and joining Team Dynamics
- Part 3 – Dan Rowbottom Interview: Re-entering the BTCC, recalling Thruxton and the journey
So, it ended up being a restarted sprint to the finish.
Rowbottom repeated his starting abilities to lead ahead of his three-time champion teammate into Turn 1, a feat not many drivers can easily claim.
However, being opportunistic and fair when he took the lead paid dividends for the spectators as they got to see an intense duel for the lead, lap after lap.
He kept his nerve to claim his first BTCC victory, and the fastest lap of the race, all with a few tears of joy in the car.
Describing the achievement as “surreal” will be a memory to remember for him having not stood on the top step of a podium since Renault Clio Cup in ’18, at Brands Hatch Indy.
Heading into the second race, the emotions of the victory were parted temporarily ahead of his titanic 75 kg ballast defence work.
Rowbottom proved his competent front-running abilities thus far but the challenge was now on how he would defend with the weight, and whether he could stay amongst the front pack.
Traditionally, first-time winners, or those who do not taste the front-running breeze so often, are subjected to a greater challenge of asserting strong pace.
Their car is being subjected to marginally more mass to affect cornering ability and acceleration on corner exits compared to their Race 1 running.
The first of 12 laps begun as Rowbottom repeated his aced getaways to lead in front of his teammate, before Rory Butcher took opportunity of Rowbottom’s ballast to lead by the end of the opening lap.
Shedden seemingly struggled in comparison falling down to fifth, with a 66 kg ballast on-board after finishing behind Rowbottom previously.
Whilst the Toyota dominated, Rowbottom was defending from Adam Morgan who had the swift pace to keep up right behind him.
It was a clear challenge with the ballast after-effects, but he was putting the car in the right places on the narrow circuit, also making sure his mid-corner approach was smooth to counter the exit abilities of the BMW 330i M Sport.
This defence carried on right to the end of 12 intense laps, showing Rowbottom’s talent albeit now under a maximum weight ballast to lose only one position. Impressive stuff.
Now with the same ballast as Shedden previously, the reverse grid draw for the final race put him eighth on the grid.
After a multi-car incident at the second corner, the running was restarted.
Rowbottom ran a tense race as typical when amidst the mid-field.
His quest to gain positions (and points) were not halted after a climb to P6 after a Red Flag ended the race prematurely with three laps to go.
This weekend was triumphant for him owing to grasping a win and three podium finishes in two events.
Understandably, Team Dynamics have a great deal of experience when it comes to successes but to bring in Rowbottom was always going to be a small gamble.
Pressure was always going to be on his shoulders to perform, although his interest from Matt Neal last September implied a sense of faith from the team’s most experienced driver.
We had faith after his showing at Brands Hatch and ultimately, he was going to show more at Oulton.
He proved how to win on outright pace alone. He showed what a strong getaway looks like behind the wheel of a Civic Type R. And he dazzled others with his masterclass defence despite the weight ballast. Plus beating his three-time champion teammate.
Knockhill will have the odds swing into the other direction and the rear-wheel drive BMWs and Infinitis will shine back as history tells it.
Dan Rowbottom will be one to watch during the course of this season, and has impressively learnt the ropes of the BTCC and what it is like to race at the front.
The 32-year-old will certainly take more wins and podiums with the masterclass performance he asserted at Oulton Park and will aim to stay at the sharp end in the championship standings.