BTCC UP­DATE

With three race week­ends since our last up­date, we’ve got a lot to catch up on…

Performance Vauxhall - - CONTENTS - WORDS Si McNally PHOTOS Peter Aldridge and Jakob Ebrey

Power Maxed TAG Rac­ing’s ad­ven­tures at Rock­ing­ham, Knock­hill and Sil­ver­stone.

Rock­ing­ham. A strange one, this. De­spite en­joy­ing good re­sults at the Northamp­ton­shire cir­cuit, it’s not a venue we’ve ever taken a mas­sive shine to. The fa­cil­i­ties are good and it’s a su­per-quick track, but it’s al­ways felt as though there’s been some­thing miss­ing. Even so, we were sad to learn this sea­son’s BTCC out­ing to Rock­ing­ham would be its last. Still, there wasn’t time to dwell. Af­ter all, we had races to win!

Un­for­tu­nately, it proved to be a frus­trat­ing week­end for the team. Our best re­sult was sev­enth place for Senna Proc­tor’s As­tra K in the third race. His team­mate, Josh Cook, fin­ished fur­ther down the pack in twelfth po­si­tion. Whilst this might be con­sid­ered a good re­sult for most com­pet­ing BTCC teams, Power Maxed TAG Rac­ing is used to be­ing higher up the run­ning. At least we net­ted points, thereby re­tain­ing our po­si­tion as one of the cham­pi­onship’s top three teams.

TRUE NORTH

Less than a fort­night later, we were em­bark­ing on the eight-hour jour­ney from our Bid­ford base to Scot­land’s premier rac­ing cir­cuit, Knock­hill. It’s with­out doubt one of the most ex­cit­ing tracks vis­ited by the BTCC, but there’s no deny­ing at­tend­ing is a lo­gis­ti­cal night­mare. Get­ting four trucks, thirty team mem­bers, two race cars and a mo­torhome north of the bor­der is tough, not to men­tion the fact we have to en­dure six days

away from our fam­i­lies in the wilds of Scot­land, where mo­bile net­work cov­er­age and hot show­ers are con­sid­ered lux­u­ries!

There’s an old adage up at Knock­hill that goes along the lines of “if you can’t see the hill, it’s rain­ing. If you can see the hill, then rain is on its way!” This was to prove true dur­ing our re­cent stay. The Satur­day spent qual­i­fy­ing was glo­ri­ous: the sky was blue, the track stayed (mostly) dry and the views from our hos­pi­tal­ity unit at the top of the hill were ut­terly spec­tac­u­lar. The weather may have been on our side, but fickle Lady Luck cer­tainly wasn’t…

Knock­hill is a short cir­cuit. Con­se­quently, tim­ing dif­fer­ences be­tween those at the front of the grid and those at the back are in­cred­i­bly tight. As if to prove the point, Josh qual­i­fied 0.4 sec­onds off pole, putting him in P10. Senna was 0.3 sec­onds be­hind, but the BTCC’s amaz­ingly close rac­ing meant even that small mar­gin re­sulted in him be­ing four­teen places back in P24! An­noy­ingly, both driv­ers had much faster laps dis­counted for ex­ceed­ing track lim­its, when a sin­gle wheel from each car skipped over the edge of the kerbs. Night­mare!

Sun­day dawned. It was race day. Knock­hill def­i­nitely lived up to its rep­u­ta­tion as be­ing the wettest track on the calendar. The twenty thou­sand fans in at­ten­dance couldn’t have been more soaked if they’d spent hours in a shower! The same was true of the team. Need­less to say, the first race of the day proved in­ter­est­ing, with many cars end­ing up in the gravel at the first cor­ner (Duf­fus Dip), caus­ing a frus­trat­ing few laps be­hind the safety car.

in full flow

The sec­ond race of the day might prove to be the most con­tro­ver­sial of the sea­son! With the track ab­so­lutely sod­den (there was a lit­eral river run­ning on the most chal­leng­ing cor­ner of the cir­cuit), the safety car was called out twice dur­ing the race be­fore a red flag cut the pro­ceed­ings short af­ter yet an­other re­gret­table in­ci­dent. Josh man­aged to bat­tle his way to P4, which was then bumped to P2 when reign­ing cham­pion, Ash Sut­ton, and ti­tle con­tender, Tom In­gram, were both dis­qual­i­fied for fail­ing a ride height test!

Race three was slightly drier. Well, that’s to say we were soak­ing rather than drown­ing! Un­for­tu­nately, Senna’s car suf­fered a tech­ni­cal com­plaint on the twen­ti­eth lap. He was about to head back to the pits when his po­tent Vaux­hall was hit from be­hind. The car was spun into the bar­ri­ers out­side the pit en­trance! Not ex­actly what you’d say was a good end to his day, but at least the team took some com­fort from Josh be­ing able to make up de­cent ground and take fifth po­si­tion af­ter be­ing punted off the track by MG driver, Rory Butcher. This re­sult net­ted us a good haul of points and

sent us into the penul­ti­mate round of the sea­son third in the Teams’ standings.

Be­ing the home of Bri­tish mo­tor­sport, Sil­ver­stone has al­ways been re­garded as the most pop­u­lar round of the sea­son. With close to fifty thou­sand peo­ple pass­ing through the gates across race week­end, it’s safe to say the BTCC is alive and well in the hearts and minds of rac­ing fans. The first race, how­ever, would prove to be a dis­ap­point­ment for Josh and the team due to an al­ter­ca­tion with Honda driver, Chris Smiley, which left Josh’s As­tra lan­guish­ing in the gravel trap at Brook­lands. Forced to ad­mit de­feat, the car­rot-topped racer had to aban­don his Vaux­hall deep in its new stony home be­fore be­gin­ning the long walk back to the Power Maxed TAG Rac­ing garage.

fast for­ward

Race two was an al­to­gether more pos­i­tive ex­pe­ri­ence for the team. Both Josh and Senna proved why they’re wor­thy of their ex­ten­sive col­lec­tions of sil­ver­ware; af­ter his DNF (Did Not Fin­ish) ear­lier in the day, Josh was forced to start at the back of the grid, but as those of you who have seen the Bath-based su­per­star race will at­test, he doesn’t like to be in a dou­ble-fig­ured po­si­tion! De­ter­mined to climb his way through the pack, he drove like a man pos­sessed, no mean feat con­sid­er­ing how no­to­ri­ously dif­fi­cult Sil­ver­stone is for driv­ers who want to make up places and cover ground quickly. Nev­er­the­less, he put in a good ef­fort, fight­ing all the way to P12. He was never go­ing to be able to match Senna’s per­for­mance, though. Mak­ing up a record twenty-seven places, the fast-paced North­erner man­aged to seat him­self in the top ten. With the last race loom­ing, there was much to play for.

We needn’t have wor­ried. Both Josh and Senna are un­doubt­edly two of the emerg­ing stars of Bri­tish mo­tor­sport, and race three proved ex­actly why Josh has been dubbed “one to watch” since his de­but with us back in 2015. Fight­ing hard against some of the big­gest names and most ex­pe­ri­enced driv­ers in the sport, he fought his way to­wards the podium. Af­ter an in­tense three-way bat­tle with Rob Austin and for­mer PMR pi­lot, Tom Chilton, Josh ended up at the front of the tou­sle and crossed the line in P4, with Senna nar­rowly miss­ing out on an­other top ten fin­ish. He came home in P11.

With­out the bad luck of his ear­lier DNF, Josh was a dead cert for a podium, if not a win. En­cour­aged by how both driv­ers are per­form­ing, we’re now pre­par­ing for the fi­nal round of the sea­son at Brands Hatch. We head to Kent sec­ond in the Teams’ standings, third in the Man­u­fac­tur­ers’s standings, with Josh sixth and Senna twelfth in the Driv­ers’ cham­pi­onships. At the time of writ­ing, it’s still pos­si­ble for us to win the Teams’ ti­tle. Wish us luck!

Senna say­ing good­bye to rock­ing­ham in style

Well, my gauges must be wrong. I’ve got a wind blow­ing due east. What kind of fog blows against the wind?!

Eas­ily one of the best-look­ing cars the BTCC has ever seen

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