Daryl DeLeon Racing

BTCC debut at Croft Circuit a baptism by fire for Daryl DeLeon

With barely enough time to prepare for his British Touring Car Championship (BTCC) debut, it was a baptism by fire for Daryl DeLeon Taylor when he lined up on the grid last July 29/30 at Croft Circuit. But despite racing on new machinery, with an unfamiliar hybrid system, and competing with a different race format, the Filipino-British driver’s performance was very promising despite the circumstances thrown at him.

Due to the tight schedule, Daryl had to jump into the race weekend with ZERO time behind the wheel of Team HARD Racing’s Cupra Leon touring car. This meant that every outing became an extended test session not only to understand his orange-and-black #18 machine, but also to familiarize himself with the 3.423 km circuit that he has never raced on before. To make matters worse, he was forced to miss FP1 and only made it out in time for FP2.

Daryl had to make the most out of the 35-minute session scrubbing the tires, getting a feel for the car and track, and deploying the hybrid system all combined. He describes the experience as an “information overload” and no longer had the chance to put in any push laps.

This left him with no choice but to head into the unknown druing Qualifying. Given the characteristics of the soft compound Goodyear slicks, he only had a 2 to 3 lap window to set a flying lap. But with his inexperience, he quickly discovered where the limit was (and went over it), lost the rear end in the process, and ended up in the barriers.

Thankfully, his Cupra Leon BTCC didn’t sustain too much damage and was back on its wheels in time for Race 1. Daryl started from P25 and made sure to get a clean start off the line on his BTCC debut. He then proceeded to pick off other drivers as he soon as got a better feel for the car and moved a few places up to finish 23rd.

Race 2 was another 15-lap exploratory outing for Daryl. It was another trouble-free run wherein he crossed the line in 21st spot and improved on his earlier result.

His team would then decide on a different strategy for Race 3 and sent Daryl out on the softer compound tires. The first-lap chaos immediately took several front runners out of contention, allowing Daryl to jump 8 places and slot into P13. A few more well-timed overtakes after the Safety Car period saw him move into a Top 10 spot and already had P9 in his sights. But all his hard work was undone when he had to serve a drive through penalty due to a team error during the starting grid procedure. Rejoining the track now down in P20, Daryl kept his head down to catch the cars in front and took the chequered flag in a decent 18th.

Although not evident in the official results, the potential Daryl showed during a challenging BTCC debut holds a lot of promise on what he’s truly capable of under the right circumstances. Fingers crossed, we will the Filipino-British driver fighting at the front when the series moves to Knockhill Racing Circuit on the 12th/13th of August.

Daryl DeLeon Taylor: “Overall a really tough weekend, but focusing on the positives there were also a lot of learnings. The format, car, and hybrid system were all new to me. A massive thanks to Team HARD Racing for their support this weekend. It was a difficult one but we managed to get through it. I’d also like to thank Train Maintenance Services, Auntie Anne’s, Time Attack Manila, and my mom and dad for their continued support. If it weren’t for them I wouldn’t be on the grid this weekend. I’m grateful for all of it and can’t wait for Knockhill in 2 weeks and come back stronger.”

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