Power Maxed TAG Racing arrived at Rockingham for Rounds 19, 20 and 21 of the hotly contested Dunlop MSA British Touring Car Championship, bolstered by a return to podium form at Snetterton two weeks ago. On what is allegedly the BTCC’s last visit to Rockingham, the teams and fans were looking forward to a return to the hot, dry weather of what used to be called the summer.
Free practice showed the pace of both Power Maxed TAG Vauxhall Astras, with Senna sitting in a comfortable 3rd in FP2, giving the Team a sense of optimism leading into qualifying.
Unfortunately, despite essentially repeating his FP2 time, Senna ended up finishing Qualifying in P17, whilst Josh just couldn’t find a balance, which restricted him to a frustrated 11th row start.
The dry conditions of Saturday were replaced with changeable weather for Race Day, with grey clouds threatening to affect Race 1.
The start of Race 1 saw both Power Maxed Racing Astras make solid getaways, jostling for position through the banked Turn Oneand onto the flat out run to the tight hairpin at Deene. It was here that Jordan’s BMW and Tordoff’s Ford came together, spinning in the middle of the track and causing chaos behind.
In the confusion, Senna was hit hard on the right rear corner, but managed to hold in P15.
Needless to say, the melee caused a Safety Car which lasted until lap 4. On the restart, both Senna and Josh managed to make some progress, the Yorkshireman moving into P13 and Somerset’s finest moving up to P18, as he was fastest car on the circuit.
By lap 12 however, Josh’s race was run as he brought car #66 into the pits, retiring with a power steering issue.
That left Senna, celebrating his 20th birthday, to bring car #18 home in P12, after a largely uneventful race, despite light rain falling sporadically through the 18-lap race.
Surprisingly, post-race inspection of Senna’s right rear Dunlop tyre showed the outer carcass to have been ripped open in the opening events of the race, remarkably with no loss of pressure or even damage to the wheel; testament to the build quality of Dunlop tyres.
Ahead of race 2 there was enough threat of rain in the air to prompt debate between drivers and engineers as to whether to call for wets. However, the rain held off and the multi-coloured field piled into the hairpin on the opening lap, with both Power Maxed TAG Racing drivers immediately showing their determined intentions by pushing hard, Senna up two places and Josh up an amazing nine before yet another Safety Car.
On the lap 4 re-start, Senna immediately set about hunting Chilton down for P6, with a great move out of Pif-Paf to set off after Smiley, whilst further back Josh was up two more places into P17.
After yet another Safety Car (this time for Caine’s stranded VW), a very racy Proctor duped Smiley with a great switch-back move at the hairpin to move into P4, with his sights firmly on the BMW of Turkington ahead. Setting super-fast lap times, it didn’t take long for the Power Maxed TAG Racing Vauxhall Astra to catch the BMW, and with a good exit from the final chicane the birthday boy bravely and expertly drifted down the inside of the Irishman into the banked and greasy turn 1, securing P3 by under braking for the hairpin. P3 from P12 was yet another example of Senna’s racecraft in challenging conditions, which did not go unobserved by ITV’s commentators David Addison and Tim Harvey, only for a couple of grassy moments through the chicane on consecutive laps to allow the fastest-lap-setting Toyota of Ingram through to snatch the final podium: a great drive nonetheless.
Earlier, the aforementioned Safety Car had caused a bit of consternation over the Cook radio as the BMW of Collard seemed to overtake under the yellow flag. This was quickly forgotten as Josh battled past the squabbling Austin and Cammish head, surviving a rub to slot into P14.
Over the last couple of laps, Josh moved his way expertly into a strong P12 finish. From P28 on the grid, it was another great drive for the Bath ace, and with Senna finishing P4, Race 2 had certainly been a race to be proud of for Power Maxed TAG Racing.
A fully dry track greeted the 31-car grid for Race 3 with Senna starting P7, followed closely by Josh in P12.
With the race reduced to 14 laps after a delayed start (Collard’s BMW had stopped on the green flag lap), Senna was slow away and got out-dragged down to the hairpin, only to be confronted by sliding cars galore, as the dry track the drivers had quickly become wet, greasy and a nightmare for most of the grid.
Senna, perhaps keen to make up lost ground, also slid wide, and dancing on the edge of the track, showed great car control to recover and continue, albeit down in P9 with Josh a couple of cars back in P12.
And then, another Safety Car. This time the kerfuffle was at the chicane. Once again, the field bunched up and were unleashed at the end of lap 5, this time over an extended 16 lap race.
Josh was battling hard, resisting Lloyd for P13 until the Honda forced the Astra dangerously wide, causing contact which delayed both and poetically caused the Civic’s retirement.
As the race wore on, the success ballast from Race 2 carrying Proctor sportingly over the now-wet track, the door opened for Cook, allowing the #66 Astra to challenge Oliphant ahead, a task he managed to complete on the last lap, crossing the line in P12, with Proctor in P14, rounding off an ultimately frustrating day for the Power Maxed TAG Racing squad.
Next stop is Knockhill in Scotland where Power Maxed TAG Racing hope to return to race-winning form in time for the Championship run.
Power Maxed TAG Racing still sits 3rd in the Teams’ Championship, 3rd in the Manufacturers’, and 8th and 10th in the Drivers’.
Josh Cook, Power Maxed TAG Racing Vauxhall Astra #66 said: “The whole weekend has been frustrating for me. Both the car and I have been on the pace, but the power steering hose failure during Race 1 put us on the back-foot right from the get-go. It just shows how close the championship is; we didn’t qualify anywhere near where we wanted to be, but were just 0.8 of a second off pole. I’m gunning for another win at Knockhill.”
Senna Proctor, Power Maxed TAG Racing Vauxhall Astra #18 said: “Race 2 went really well, and although we missed out on a podium in the closing stages, I’m glad we scored enough points to keep us at the sharp end of the championship. Race 3 didn’t go quite to plan, but we’re back at one of my favourite tracks in a couple of weeks, and I’m confident we can grab enough points to propel us back to the top.”
Martin Broadhurst, Technical Director, Power Maxed TAG Racing: “Obviously I’m disappointed we missed out on a podium in Race 2, but Senna defended really well, and it was only the tyre degradation that cost us another trophy. Josh drove hard throughout the day, and I believe that without component failure causing retirement in Race 1, we would have been on the podium by the end of the day.”
Adam Weaver, Team Principal, Power Maxed TAG Racing: “It’s been a weekend of ups and downs, what more can I say? Senna’s P4 in Race 2 has given us the points needed to ensure we’re still in the top 3 in both the Teams’ and Manufacturers’ Standings, which I’m proud of. We’re heading to Knockhill in a strong position, and I’m confident of some good results up there.”