04/08/2015

MID-TERM REPORT: DAN HOLLAND

Dan Holland says he is hopeful the second half of his Renault UK Clio Cup season will be more reflective of his true form after a number of unfortunate mishaps in the opening ten races…
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Holland is highly-rated by many and there have been flashes of inspiration in his and his JamSport Racing team’s first full season in Britain’s premier feeder category to the British Touring Car Championship.

But there have been frustrations, too. Holland is hopeful that as he and his JamSport crew learn together then there could just be a rainbow by the end of the season…

“I’d definitely consider myself to be among the top drivers on the grid in terms of ability – my results don’t show that yet, though,” he reflected while being interviewed for his ‘mid-term report’.

“The season got off to the worst possible start with ‘that shunt’ at Brands Hatch. The very first lap of the new season and ahead Brett Smith got a little bit sideways so then Paul Rivett went a bit sideways and so did I, behind him, and I span. It left me sitting side-on to the traffic behind. I was a sitting duck. I remember one car hitting me, but not the second…”

Indeed, unsighted were both team-mate Tom Grundy and 20Ten Racing’s Mark Howard and both struck Holland’s stranded car with ferocious force. Miraculously, just a few days later Holland turned up at Thruxton for pre-event testing.

But as he recalled: “I did ten laps and was finished, physically, because of the whiplash I’d suffered at Brands – bear in mind Thruxton is effectively one long radius. I had to stop without even managing one flying lap. I was in so much agony I couldn’t even get my crash helmet off for about half an hour… So that day was something of a write-off.

“Then it was the race event at Donington. They were re-running the race from Brands in which I’d had my crash and because of what had happened to me there I had to start from the back of the grid.

“We seemed to struggle with straight line speed a bit that weekend but in the final race I was up to sixth – in fact I’d just done a really demon move on Jordan Stilp to get the ‘switch-back’ on him through Coppice down to the chicane. Thing is he got me back on the exit and at Redgate I got taken off by (Charlie) Ladell who was later penalised for that move.

“All I could think was I’d driven my guts out in a car that wasn’t quite there in terms of raw pace to get that high and for it to end like that. It pretty much summed up how things had been going!”

Thruxton was next and Holland took the fight to Pyro team-mates Ash Hand and Ashley Sutton in qualifying as he set the third fastest time behind them for a second row starting position on both race grids.

He added: “It showed as a team, even though we are still learning, we can get it right – Thruxton is such a hard place to deliver on and we were right in there with some clever thinking. I played it smart with the Pyro boys in qualifying and latched on to them to get a tow but also follow what they were doing. I don’t actually think my two best laps were anywhere near ideal but two thirds gave us a lot of hope for race day. We really thought this was going to be a ‘game-changer’ for us…

“And then our bad luck seemed to strike again with a fuel pump problem that put me out on the opening lap of race one and saw me go backwards in race two.

“At Oulton we had something else, only minor, hold us back and although my race pace was good it was too late – we were starting too far back from qualifying badly to make any real impression. Croft I just seemed to struggle a bit and was perhaps beginning to doubt myself if I’m honest. OK, I came away with my best result of 2015 so far – a seventh – but I’m not going to get too excited about that. It’s not where I want to be.”

A recent test, however, has given Holland cause for optimism as he, like the rest of the Clio Cup drivers, prepare for the season to resume at Knockhill later this month (Sat 23/Sun 24 August).

“The team have gone back over the car and maybe we have found something,” he continued. “We’ve got another test planned at Croft before we go up to Knockhill and if what we think it is has been sorted and it does work then I see no reason why we can’t get back to the sort of pace we showed in qualifying at Thruxton.

“A few of the drivers who are near the top in the points know what I’m like having raced against them before and people around me know I can do the business.

“I’d really like it to all come good for the people at JamSport. They’ve helped me get onto this grid and stay on it – particularly after what happened at Brands. We’re all still new to this and building together and it’d be great if we can crack some strong results together in the season’s second half.”