Erkut Kizilirmak has moved into the top 10 of the Dunlop MSA British Touring Car Championship's Independents Trophy battle after a successful weekend of firsts for the Arkas Racing star at Donington Park “ the event marking his maiden race meeting at the Leicestershire venue and also his first ever experience of racing in the wet.
Having produced a career best BTCC qualifying performance in dry conditions on Saturday with an incredible top 12 grid slot for the first of Sunday's races, Erkut went on to finish the opening encounter in 14th position “ after electing to start from the pitlane due to the wet conditions “ and then achieved a 15th place finish in round 17.
Underlining his ever-improving pace throughout the meeting, the 37-year-olds most competitive run came during round 18 where he finished in 13th place and impressively posted a fastest race lap within just three 10ths of a second of the best set by top Independent runner Mike Jordan who, incidentally, finished the race in third position.
Commenting on his noteworthy outing, the Turkish sensation said: This has been a really positive weekend and Im very pleased. Today is the first time in my life I have raced in the rain so to leave Donington with more points in the Independents Trophy and to have progressed so well is very good.
It was unfortunate the rain came as on Saturday I had started to learn the circuit well and to qualify in 12th position was good for me and the team. But then the conditions changed for the races so it was a totally new experience, I had to completely learn all over again but it all worked out ok and I enjoyed it very much.
The decision to start round 16 from the pitlane was certainly the wise thing to do, especially considering the problems which befell Erkut at Oulton Park three weekends ago when he was eliminated through no fault of his own just a few hundred yards into the opening lap of round 14 in similarly wet conditions.
He explained: Our plan was to be conservative for the first race and thats why I started from the pitlane to stay out of trouble. I got up to 11th position but then I made a few mistakes which was a shame. The second race wasn't as good but the third race was great, I really enjoyed it and I feel I've learned a lot about driving in the wet.
In every race too we were fastest in the speed trap so now I have got the straights sorted out I just need to work on the corners! Seriously, we have learned a lot this weekend and I am feeling confident we can continue our progress at Snetterton.
Erkut's Tech-Speed Motorsport-run Vauxhall Astra Sport Hatch was also the second highest placed BTC-specification car in all three of the Donington Park races. His trio of Independents Trophy points finishes see the Arkas-entered squad move to within two points of the top seven in the Independents Team Trophy.
There are now just two weeks to wait until the 19th, 20th and 21st rounds of the season which will take place at Snetterton Circuit on 28th/29th July. For only the second time this season, the Norfolk venue is a track Erkut has at least been to once before in a BTCC car and he is hoping the experience will help him enjoy a seasons best set of results.