Read our full interview below with Aiden Moffat & Federico Turrata, as we look back over another exhilarating race season competing in the BTCC 2018.
photos: Mike Inkley & Darren Hurrell
words: BAM Motorsports
As the winter months draw in and another exciting year of the Dunlop MSA British Touring Car Championship well and truly over, as pro engineering ltd. catches up with sponsored racing driver Aiden Moffat and his Race Engineer Federico Turrata, to discuss and reflect on all the highs and lows of the 2018 BTCC race season.
The BTCC is one of the most closely fought series in the world and 2018 proved to be no exception, with no less than 17 drivers taking victories over the 30 rounds. For Aiden Moffat, it was another successful campaign in the Laser Tools Racing prepared Mercedes A-Class, culminating in one victory and a further two podium positions.
Aiden may be still just 22 years of age, but he has been competing in the BTCC since 2013, with 2018 marking his fifth straight season with Laser Tools Racing. It was fitting that he would go on to end the season on a high, with four top-ten finishes in the last five rounds alone.
"It’s good to get more Silverware to add to the collection over the season as a whole and it’s important to reward my supporters and the team with good results."
"As ever there a lot of ‘what ifs’ but that is the nature of motorsport. I should have won at Brands but got hit on the last lap. Donington was very good as was Thruxton, as we were sixth in the championship at that point."
"We struggled at Oulton Park and Croft and then we got the points haul at Silverstone with the win. We know we can always do better, but it has been a good season and working with Alain Menu in the second half of the year was fantastic. He’s a family friend and I’ve known him for a long time, but his experience is invaluable."
Aiden Moffat | BTCC Racing Driver | Laser Tools Racing
"The season had highs and lows. Best weekend for sure was Donington with a brilliant wet qualifying and the double podium on Sunday. Silverstone was mega because Aiden, with a very clever and precise drive, scored his third career win!"
"I am glad and proud to have been given the opportunity to be Aiden’s Race Engineer for the third year in a row, as his commitment and driving has evolved through the years and is always improving."
Federico Turrata | BTCC Race Engineer | Laser Tools Racing
A Good Start in Tricky Conditions for Aiden Moffat
Brands Hatch Indy Race 1: P14 Race 2: P5 Race 3: P21
The season kicked off in the Brands Hatch Indy circuit in early April in suitably damp conditions with Aiden qualifying well, less than four-tenths off the ultimate pace, but with the field so tightly compacted, this yielded 17th position on the grid. The Scottish racer avoided the lap one incidents and went on to open his account with the 14th position finish.
The First Two Podiums of the Year Come at Donington
Donington Park Race 4: P3 Race 5: P15 Race 6: P3
A great run in qualifying saw Aiden qualify fifth and this was followed up by a strong drive in the opening race that yielded his first podium position of the season after a nice battle with Sam Tordoff and Chris Smiley. Describing it as an ‘important result,’ Aiden went into the next race carrying success ballast, which meant for a tough race ahead of round six on Sunday evening.
Not a Happy Hunting Ground for Results at Thruxton
Thruxton Race 7: P18 Race 8: P15 Race 9: P15
The sun beat down on Thruxton for rounds seven, eight and nine, but it wasn’t a particularly noteworthy weekend from the outset, with the extra success ballast hurting Aiden’s pace in the first race. A lack of straight-line speed at the ultra-fast circuit meant that the weekend ended on a frustrating note with a pair of 15ths to add to the P18.
On to the Next One...
Oulton Park Race 10: P33 Race 11: DNF Race 12: P20
On to Oulton Park, a circuit that is tight and twisty and notoriously difficult to pass on. The first two races of the weekend saw Aiden finish 16th before being hit first by Josh Cook and then Dan Cammish. The team worked hard to repair the Mercedes for the final race where he lined up at the back of the field. A start-line crash reduced the race to just 12 laps, but Aiden was able to carve his way through to 15th at the start of the final lap, only for a puncture to cost him further positions.
Contact Ends Croft Hopes
Croft Race 13: DNF Race 14: P16 Race 15: P17
Croft wasn’t a great deal kinder to Aiden with Josh Price taking him out of the first race of the day before a run from 27th on the grid to 16th in the second race. It wasn’t to be however, as contact with Chris Smiley meant Aiden was forced to drop back to 17th position due to damage.
Worth a Gamble...
Snetterton Race 1: P16 Race 17: P13 Race 18: NC
The summer break followed, with a chance to get some testing and development complete ahead of the second half of the championship, which got under way at Snetterton. The U.K. enjoyed one of its best summers in recent memory, but heavy rain made the opening race at the Norfolk circuit tricky.
Aiden picked up some light damage to the Laser Tools Racing Mercedes, but still gained an impressive ten positions to take the chequered flag in 16th place. With conditions drying in the second race, Aiden dropped back a little as he lost the sweet spot on the car setup, but it was a gamble worth a shot and demonstrated the Scottish driver’s desire to take risks with a view of securing strong results.
The final race at Snetterton proved disappointing with contact sending countryman Rory Butcher into Aiden’s Mercedes. Following a pitstop to replace the toe-link, he was back out and set the fifth fastest time of the race, underlining the potential in the car and what could have been...
Great Promise Let Down by Kerb Damage
Rockingham Race 19: P8 Race 20: DNF Race 21: P21
Next up was Rockingham where Aiden took on the services of former BTCC champion Alain Menu as his driver coach. This was to help him in analysing data as well as general race advice and mental attitude. This proved to be a valuable addition to his race preparations.
The first race at Rockingham saw Aiden gain seven positions en route to eighth position, setting the scene nicely for race two. Unfortunately, a great start and gain of three positions came to nothing when he damaged the suspension with a kerb strike, making race three all but impossible from the back of the field.
Moving Up the Order
Knockhill Race 22: P18 Race 23: P13 Race 24: P12
A return to the Scotsman's home circuit Knockhill brought the most difficult conditions of the season by far- very much a case of survival in the rain. Silverstone to follow however, would undoubtedly be the highlight of the 2018 BTCC season for Aiden, as he secured his first win of the season, and the third BTCC victory of his career to date.
First Win of the Season Comes at Silverstone
Silverstone Race 25: P14 Race 26: P7 Race 27: P1
It was a good start to the weekend in race one where he opted to run the harder option tyre, and then focus on races two and three on the quicker prime tyre.
14th position in race one was a good result – quickest of the those on the option tyre – and Aiden made good use of the softer tyre in race two to move his way through the field, before taking the chequered flag in seventh place. The racing gods smiled on Aiden as the number seven was pulled out of the hat for the reverse grid pole position. With just 27 kilos of ballast on board, he knew he was in with a good chance of the win.
A perfect getaway saw him lead the field from the outset before Tom Ingram began to close in and pressure him for position. With a small straight-line speed deficit compared to the Toyota, Aiden was under pressure for the win- especially following a tense safety car period that closed up the leading runners once again.
It was a brilliant BTCC win at Silverstone for Aiden Moffat. Under immense pressure from the start, Aiden remained calm throughout, in what he would describe later as the "hardest race of my life and most special win."
Back to Brands for a Strong End to the BTCC Season
Brands Hatch GP Race 28: P7 Race 29: P5 Race 30: P27
It was then off to the season finale on the longer Grand Prix circuit at Brands Hatch, and a strong conclusion to Aiden's 2018 BTCC season.
Aiden made his now traditional fast start to gain three positions and run in sixth place whilst fending off the attentions of Sam Tordoff’s Focus. The Mercedes however, was suffering from a power delivery problem and this allowed the Ford to slip ahead in what was still a great tussle for position.
Things were shaping up nicely for the second race as he made further progress up to fourth position, before allowing Ton Ingram through so he could continue his fight for the title. The final round saw Aiden starting sixth and in a confident frame of mind starting the 30th and final race of the season on the option tyre. A puncture whilst running fifth however effectively brought to an end the season with the question... What if?
All in all, another strong performance from the young Scot this year, with a good points haul and the usual misfortunes of motorsport only demonstrating the true potential in him and the car. A fantastic effort throughout the year by Aiden, Federico and the whole team at Laser Tools Racing did not go unrewarded, with the podium finishes at Donington and of course, the spectacular race win at Silverstone, all truly deserved.
Finishing P8 with 218 points, marked another successive top 10 finish in the 2018 BTCC Independent Driver's standings for Aiden Moffat. As the silverware collection continues to grow and Aiden's race pace continues to quicken, we look onwards to the next one and look forward to seeing what 2019 will bring...
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