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