Power Maxed TAG Racing came to Croft still very much in the title hunt but on the back of a challenging weekend at Oulton Park, where success ballast and a couple of unfortunate incidents masked the continued competitiveness of the PMR prepared Vauxhall Astra.
The free practice sessions on Saturday morning saw Josh Cook finish a very competitive 3rd overall, with Senna Proctor just 6/10ths off the pace.
In qualifying, and still laden with success ballast, Josh ran out of time to get a clean lap in, ending up a slightly disappointed P9, bemoaning yellow flags and a slight mistake on his best lap.
Meanwhile Senna placed the second Power Maxed TAG Racing in P14, less than 3/10ths away from Josh and with a bit of work to do on race day.
Despite competing for attention with England’s World Cup game against Panama, the banking and grandstands at a sun-drenched Croft were packed to the rafters.
Race 1 saw both cars make good initial getaways, but the action kicked off almost immediately as Josh got caught between the converging duo of Jelley and Austin in the battle for track position on the run to turn 1. The Alfa and BMW exited stage left into the gravel, forcing a safety car, with the action resuming after two slow laps.
Josh was now in P8 and there he stayed. Initially the Power Maxed TAG Racing Vauxhall Astra looked very menacing as it sat on the back of a chain of BMWs, moving up to P7 as Jordan’s tyres gave up the ghost.
Teammate Senna was racing in front of his home fans and looked suitably frustrated, as he tried every way possible to circumnavigate Butcher’s MG. To cheers from the massed ranks, Proctor finally got past and, like the cork from a bottle, bolted off into the distance, lapping 1 second faster as he then caught the Cole / Neal battle ahead. Running out of laps, Senna flew passed Cole, but was unable to get around the Honda and the recovering BMW of Jordan in time, bringing the car home a very respectable P11.
If Race 1 was an ideal start to race-day and the thought of another haul of Championship points for the speedy Astra pairing, then Race 2 was the opposite for Josh as he flew off through the gravel at Tower on lap 1. An unplanned excursion through the adjoining farmland dropped him to the back of the field and into the pits with a suspected brake problem. Fast work got the Power Maxed TAG Racing Vauxhall Astra back on track, only to retire shortly afterwards as the team looked to investigate the problem ahead of Race 3.
Meanwhile Senna was driving superbly, moving up to P8 after 5 laps as he challenged the Ford of Chilton. Unable to get past the wide and bright Ford, Senna unexpectantly found his mirrors full of Neal’s Honda, as he closed rapidly after straight-lining the chicane on the last lap. A lunge down the inside into turn 1 forced Senna to concede and settle for P8 as he racked up more Championship points.
In the time it took England to score 6 against Panama, the PMR crew had rectified the braking issues and prepared car 66 for a unique Race 3 start. Positioned on the back row of the grid in P32, and due to the unique configuration of the circuit, Josh was actually facing in the opposite direction to the start line, forcing him to negotiate the final corner hairpin as part of his getaway procedure… Such obstacles are meat and drink to a Championship contender as Cook, on the harder prime tyre, made up 6 places on lap 1.
For his part, Senna was very much facing the right way as he launched off row 2, fighting traction with the hard tyre on the drag to turn 1, as Chilton squeezed around the outside, forcing the Yorkshireman to settle into a solid 3rd place.
Consolidating this position, Senna initially dropped off the leading, soft tyre shod duo, only to re-join the battle for 2nd place around lap 10 as tyre degradation equalised. With the crowd on their feet, a last lap attempt to get into 2nd was thwarted, forcing Senna to settle for a magnificent 3rd, and his 3rd podium of this campaign.
Further back, Josh was flying, gaining places both on track and through attrition ahead. The only glitch was Collard’s soft tyred BMW sliding passed on lap 7, otherwise the progress was relentless, missing out on the Dunlop Forever Forward award by one place. A last lap kerfuffle ahead nearly allowed Josh to gain another 4 places, as he crossed the line in P18.
With Croft over, the BTCC circus now enters its’ summer break, before resuming for the 60th anniversary spectacular at Snetterton on the last weekend in July. However, for Power Maxed TAG Racing, the hard work continues as we look to regroup and continue our Championship challenge through to the end of the season, from 3rd overall in the Manufacturers’, 3rd in the Teams, 9th and 10th in the Drivers standings.
Josh Cook, Power Maxed TAG Racing Vauxhall Astra #66 said: “If I could describe the weekend in one word, it would be ‘frustrating.’ Race 1 was really positive, and the times were right on the button. I truly believe that if we hadn’t had the issue at the start of Race 2, I would’ve been up on the podium at least once during the day. But that’s motorsport; you have to take the rough with the smooth. Most of Race 3 was spent picking off the backmarkers and getting through the field. It’s disappointing that I missed out on the Dunlop Forever Forward title by one place, but I’m happy with the pace shown across the weekend.”
Senna Proctor, Power Maxed TAG Racing Vauxhall Astra #18 said: “That’s my third podium this year, so naturally I’m chuffed to come away with another trophy. Croft is not only one of my favourite tracks, but being a local boy, having the support of the massive crowd on the podium was pretty humbling. Having LAPD, Bee Health and Matrix Motorsport, 3 of my main sponsors cheering me on is something that I won’t forget in a hurry. To score points for the team in all 3 races is a real boost, and again shows that even when we have problems, we come back fighting and are right on the pace.”
Martin Broadhurst, Technical Director, Power Maxed TAG Racing “Obviously the weekend didn’t go completely to plan, but when you look at the raw times, Josh and Senna were right on the pace across both days. Both proved exactly why they’re worthy of being race winners during Race 3, and I’m confident if the race had lasted a couple more laps Senna would’ve passed Chilton and Josh would have been in the points. The technical issue with Josh’s car in Race 2 was frustrating and cost us points, but we recovered well. The summer break will give us the opportunity to get really deep into the data and bring us back fighting at Snetterton.”
Adam Weaver, Team Principal, Power Maxed TAG Racing “We came into the weekend looking for consistent points, and I’m happy that we achieved that. Race 2 was an anomaly, and without it I think we would’ve been in the top 10 in pretty much all 3 races. The team worked relentlessly after Race 2 to fix the mechanical issue, and I can’t overstate how proud I am of them for giving both Josh and Senna cars that are consistently on the pace. The weekend might not have been perfect, but after the bad luck at Oulton Park, we’ve proved we’re still up there, and will be pushing for more silverware at Snetterton.”