The headliner in 2021 was Rob Dowsett. After a scintillating race début twice putting the E36 on the podium in Trackday Trophy in 2020, I felt I simply had to run Rob in a championship for the following season.
The best fit was the Trackday Championship, six rounds of 45-minute races. Competition’s fierce and, with perplexing dyno test methods, the newly more potent ’36 fell 55kg heavier than she could be. I wasn’t worried: I knew I had a colossal talent on board to overcome any deficit.
In fact, Rob’s the best natural talent I’ve ever strapped into this car. And yes, I do fasten my own harnesses! On the morning of his very first test day he matched my laptime and I knew I was witnessing something pretty special. His feel for what the car is doing beneath him and his creativity in finding the grip wherever it might be is second to none, and the controlled aggression of his racing is breathtaking to watch.
He’s always blisteringly fast, forcing me to raise my game just to keep pace, but it’s in the wet that he really finds something extra. He puts the car places I’d never even have thought of, and leaves the competition scratching their heads. It just doesn’t matter that our car has a fundamental disadvantage against TDC’s many front-drive hatchbacks when grip is low – for Rob with his karting experience, having any tread on the tyres means life is easy and he walks away from the rest.
After a pitstop penalty in the first round at Donington, results rolled in: third at Silverstone, a new lap record at Combe on our way to third again, second at Oulton in the pouring rain. We also won a TDT race at Brands Hatch GP, just for fun. The Snetterton round passed us by as I repaired the car after an accident elsewhere, finishing it the day before the season finale at Brands Hatch. We finished second again, and so despite missing an entire race we wrapped up third place in the championship standings – in Rob’s first full season.
An extraordinary achievement, it’s developed us both hugely and made us firm friends in and out of the paddock. It’s truly only the beginning for this superb racing driver.
We’ll be back in 2022 – we don’t want to change a thing!