All the action from the opening rounds of the 2018 British Touring Car Championship, including a stunning maiden victory for Power Maxed Racing’s Senna Proctor
After what fell like a near interminably long ‘off season’ the British Touring Car Championship finally fired into life at Brands Hatch, the Kent circuit once again playing host to the opening three rounds of the UK’s most beloved race series. Here’s how those teams running ITG filters got on.
Honda Yuasa Racing
An off season of change saw the works Honda squad begin 2018 with an all new car and a partially new driver lineup, its new Civic Type R now driven by Dan Cammish and Matt Neal, the former a multiple winner of the British Porsche Carrera Cup. It even fell to the new boy to make the initial running, Cammish recording what would have been a sub 47 second, pole winning time…had he not gone through a red light in the pit lane shortly afterwards, erasing his previous times at a stroke. He was nevertheless able to set another scintillating lap time to line up in P4, just two places ahead of his illustrious team mate.
Race 1 began in tricky circumstances, off-and-on rain serving to make the Brands Hatch Indy circuit a deceptively tricky place on which to go motor racing. The result was a non-score for Matt Neal, the team leader’s car coming together with the older Civic of Matt Simpson, sending the multiple champion into the Clearways gravel and out of the race. Cammish took to this touring car business like a duck to water, fighting in the top ten and showing an impressive turn of pace to bring the new Civic home in P8.
A less than ideal tyre strategy saw both Honda drivers on the back foot; Cammish opted for a wet tyre which faded as the race progressed and a clear dry line appeared around the track, and he was unable to prevent himself from slipping down to P16. Neal opted for the dry Dunlop tyre but did so after the formation lap and was therefore forced to start from the pit lane, denying the him the option of making full use of his slick tyres. He finished 29th.
Race 3 saw both Civics finish within seconds of each other, Matt Neal putting in a typically stirring performance to climb from P29 to P12, one place behind his ever improving team mate. Both drivers will hope for better luck when the BTCC pitches up at Donington Park at the end of the month.
Dan Cammish currently sits 16thin the title standings, with Matt Neal in 22nd. Halfords Yuasa Racing are in 13thin Team Standings.
Power Maxed Racing
As if to underscore the wholly unpredictable nature of the BTCC, while the might of the works Honda squad struggled to make an impression, the ever rising force of Power Maxed Racing took another leap in competitiveness by leaping to the head of the field in a rain-sodden second race. And yet it all started off so innocuously, with Josh Cook and Senna Proctor putting in solid but not stunning performances to qualify in P12 and P21 respectively.
Race 1 gave few clues as to the drama which was set to unfold, Senna Proctor coming home a distant P27 and Josh Cook not classified, though the latter did display ample pace to record the fastest lap of the race.
It fell to race 2 to provide the bulk of the drama and what was undoubtedly the ‘feel-good’ moment of the weekend, and as is so often the case with the BTCC, it all came down to tyre strategy. The race began under sodden but steadily drying weather, conditions which effectively split the field down the middle, some opting to play it safe with wet tyres and others, including Senna Proctor, choosing to gamble on slicks.
Proctor’s risky call came good on lap 22 of 27, the 2017 Jack Sears Trophy winner finding his tyres perfectly suited to a quickly drying Brands, and he began to make real progress up the order from that point onwards. He battled hard with the Mercedes of Adam Moffat in the dying laps of the race, the two coming together on the run down to Graham Hill Bend and sending the Scot ploughing into the gravel. The way was therefore clear for Proctor to take a famous win, making him the 18thrace winner on the 2018 grid
Josh Cook’s race 2 was less rewarding, largely as he opted to go for wet tyres and was thus fighting a rear-guard action towards the end. Cook nevertheless raced bravely and cleanly to bring the car home in P15, a result made that bit better by his P10 in the third and final race of the day, five places to ahead of his younger team mate.
Senna Proctor lies in 7thin the championship reckoning, Josh Cook in 18th. Power Maxed Racing are in 6thin the Team Standings.
Photo Credit – Jakob Ebrey/Power Maxed Racing