Power Maxed TAG Racing arrived at Silverstone for Rounds 25, 26 and 27 of the Dunlop MSA British Touring Car Championship right in the mix for Championship honours, and were to prove why they're worthy of being a Championship contender, pulling back to the front after an unfortunate incident in Race One.
Both Free Practice sessions showed that the Power Maxed TAG Racing Vauxhall Astras were going to be a player across Sunday’s three races, although the inherent pace in the cars were hidden somewhat in qualifying. Josh Cook put the #66 car on grid P14, just 3/10ths from pole position whilst carrying 39kg of success ballast, whilst young team mate Senna Proctor followed in P21, after being hindered by an untimely red flag. The top 24 cars were separated by less than half a second, promising a race day of tight panel rubbing action.
Needless to say, race-day didn’t disappoint if you were looking for more action packed BTCC racing. Sadly however, the biggest piece of panel rubbing in Race 1 occurred as Josh, having made a solid start on the hard Dunlop Option tyre, broke for Brooklands on Lap 3 in P13. A locked up and out of control Honda of Smiley smashed through the left rear quarter of the Astra, turning Josh around and unceremoniously dumping the Bath ace into the gravel. Not the best start to the Championship run in.
Before the Safety Car was deployed to recover the stricken Astra, Senna was caught in a Subaru sandwich over P23, before then resisting a hard hit from Jordan as he too entered Brooklands.
Fortunately for the young Yorkshireman, he was able to carry on, moving impressively forward on the hard (and slower by half a second) Option tyre, from grid P21 to bring the #18 Astra up to P17 at the finish, after finally finding a gap and passing the VW of Thompson.
Senna’s P17 start meant a challenging opening few laps, as he battled to move forward, successfully gaining two places with great inside moves at both Becketts and Copse to join the train of Oliphant, Cammish and Turkington, now in P13 and looking to make up further ground.
A little further back, driven by a deep frustration of chances missed in Race 1, Josh was also on the move, making good progress from P28 up to P16 after the opening 10 laps. Diving inside Jordan’s BMW at Copse put the Power Maxed TAG Racing Astra in the train of cars that also housed his team-mate, now in P10.
Manic side by side action followed, as the multi coloured train fought tooth and nail, often three abreast, with both Power Maxed TAG Racing Astras playing central roles in the drama unfolding. Senna was past Cammish into Becketts and setting his sights on Oliphant and Chilton ahead, as Josh bravely cut across Neal’s Honda into Copse after a frantic exchange that had the large crowd on the edge of their seats.
Slicing inside Chilton’s Ford at Becketts into P12 was Cook’s final play, as he came home an excellent P12 from grid P28. More places would undoubtedly have followed has Josh not run out of laps.
Just ahead, Senna had both held his own and made up places to score a P10 finish, also ruing the chequered flag as he closed rapidly on Austin’s Alfa Romeo after 22 hectic laps.
The expectation was high for a thrilling Race 3, and once again the BTCC didn’t disappoint, during a race that heavily featured the striking Power Maxed TAG Racing Astras from start to finish.
Starting P10 (Senna) and P12 (Josh), the opening laps were frantic, with side by side action at every turn. After holding station during Lap 1, Senna was shuffled back to P15 in the melee, before he could set about moving forward again.
Meanwhile, by Lap 7 Josh had progressed expertly past Tordoff and Turkington into P6, before the second Safety Car of the day created a ceasefire in the proceedings.
With Senna P13 and Josh P6, the restart on Lap 13 allowed the first 6 to get away, and there then ensued a mad, fantastic and nail biting battle royal to the chequered flag.
From the rear of this increasingly compact leading pack, Josh moved inside Chilton at Becketts on Lap 22, challenging Turkington’s BMW and looking for a podium finish to a day that had seemed lost in the gravel of Race 1.
With Austin and Turkington both battling hard, Josh made a great move inside Austin at Becketts, the Astra holding its own as Josh hooked the apex under the most intense pressure over 3rd place. With Chilton’s Ford re-joining the party, all contenders were looking to maximise their positions going into the Brands finale, but were also prepared to take big risks. This made for a tense finish as Josh held on for a superb P4 and Senna, having been bundled backward, ultimately came through to a very competitive P11, ahead of reigning Champion, Sutton.
As the dust settled, the Championship roulette had taken another fascinating spin, as Power Maxed TAG Racing moved into a strong P2 in the Teams Championship, with Josh dropping just one place to P6 in the Drivers’ Championship, despite his early retirement from Race 1.
Despite a challenging weekend, Senna gains one place to 12th, whilst Vauxhall remain 3rd in the Manufacturers’ Championship.
The showdown for the 60th Anniversary season is at Brands Hatch in less than two weeks’ time, where Power Maxed TAG Racing’s breakthrough season will come to an end. There is all to play for! Quotes:
Josh Cook, Power Maxed TAG Racing Vauxhall Astra #66 said: ““Before being pushed off in Race 1, we were showing really strong pace, so that was incredibly frustrating. Starting from the back for Race 2 was hard work, but the lack of weight gave me an extra advantage to fight through the pack. I loved Race 3; it was tense, but gave the fans exactly what they want to see when I was battling Rob (Austin). It’s been a tough day, and had we not been taken out in Race 1 I think the standings would look very different, but we go into the final in a strong position.”
Senna Proctor, Power Maxed TAG Racing Vauxhall Astra #18 “It’s been a tough weekend overall, but we showed good pace and I’ve had two points finishes, so it could be much worse! With a top-ten, and some decent points on the board, we’re going to Brands Hatch with our heads held high, and determined to bring home some more silverware.”
Martin Broadhurst, Technical Director, Power Maxed TAG Racing “Overall it’s been a really positive weekend, and the team have worked incredibly hard to bring us the points. I’m disappointed with the contact that ended up putting Josh out of action in Race 1, as I think that with the pace of the car during the day, it would’ve given us the opportunity to challenge for victory in Race 3, but both him and Senna drove really well this weekend. Both drivers scoring points in two races is a strong result, so I’m happy with that. To go into the final second in the Teams is a fantastic achievement, and I’m looking forward to seeing what happens come the final round.”
Adam Weaver, Team Principal, Power Maxed TAG Racing “It’s been a good year for us as a team, and going into the final ahead of teams that’ve won the championship multiple times is obviously a boost for all of us. Josh drove incredibly this weekend, especially after being forced to retire so early in Race 1, and I’m convinced that had that not happened, we’d be even further up the table. Senna proved why he’s worthy of being a Jack Sears Champion by bringing in the points, with both putting us in a really strong position for Brands.”