This weekend saw the first outing of the PMR Vauxhall Astra’s at the UK’s fastest circuit, Thruxton in the latest round of the Dunlop MSA British Touring Car Championship. The Hampshire-based
circuit is renowned for its tyre-punishing, high-speed corners and always delivers exciting racing. As always, PMR didn’t leave the circuit empty handed with points, the fastest lap set by Tom Chilton and the Jack Sears Trophy for Senna Proctor.
Anticipation was high for qualifying as Thruxton is such a unique circuit and a real test of the new Vauxhall's high-speed cornering ability, plus with the first twenty cars separated by less than a second, the tension was high. Both drivers were on the pace. However, Chilton donned new tyres, and set a session record sector one, followed by a flying second sector. Things were looking positive for a top 3 position until the red flag emerged causing Chilton to back off. Still, Tom Chilton qualified in eighth with Senna Proctor just behind in fourteenth.
Race one started as the sun was burning through the cloud cover. Proctor was the first of the PMR Astra’s to get off the line as Chilton’s view of the 5-second board was obscured, mix this with a short light sequence and the result was a slow start for Chilton causing him to drop five places. Chilton with a point to prove was the driver on a charge, passing Simpson on lap 9, Moffat on lap 12 and fighting with Andrew Jordan for p12. Unfortunately, a mistake from Jordan caused him to spin in front of Chilton making the Vauxhall driver brake hard to avoid him and resulted in Chilton losing two places. While the carnage was unfolding, Proctor had his head down and a steady race to cross the line unscathed in P14 and to collect the all important Jack Sears win and the resulting points.
Race two got underway with a bang, literally as Senna Proctor got sandwiched in between both MG’s resulting in all three cars leaving the circuit and Dan Lloyd hitting the barrier with force, causing a red flag. Luckily Dan Lloyd was ok, and Proctor made it back to the pits with a damaged oil cooler and tyre. The race got underway after the lengthy delay and Proctors car joining the back of the grid after its repairs.
After the restart, Chilton found himself a bit defensive but then got the bit between his teeth and took three places on lap 3. Proctors thoughts were firmly on the Jack Sears Trophy and race two was a case of damage limitation. The rookie made seven places by lap 6 when the race was red-flagged after a spinning Eurotech Honda hit the barrier.
After two action-packed races, it was time for the final race of the day. Both cars got off to a good start with Chilton in 11th and Proctor in 22nd. Both gained a place on lap one, with Chilton on a charge setting the fastest lap of the race on lap 4. Proctor focused and determined to make inroads in the pack in front, after avoiding the accident of Davenport and Epps, he made it up to 20th. It was then Chilton’s turn to avoid disaster when he passed the Honda of Smith only to see Smith lose control and spin across the track, luckily avoiding all contact, both drivers gaining a further place. Chilton was locked in an epic battle with Neal and only lost the place as the touring car veteran missed the chicane putting Chilton back to 11th, where he crossed the line with Proctor behind in 19th. Neal was later penalised 0.5 seconds for gaining an unfair advantage which saw Chilton moved back to 10th.
Tom Chilton commented, “The team have put together a mega car, and it's a case of could’a, should’a, would’a. I didn’t have the best start to the weekend, first the red flag in qualifying, then being unsighted and losing grid places for the start of race one. However, I got my head down and did what I do best, race for position. It was great to be able to be in thick of the action and gain places, but I just wish I’d have started further up the grid."
Senna Proctor Commented,“ It’s been an exciting weekend, race one was a steady way to ease into Thruxton, winning the Jack Sears was a good result for a steady race. The second was an action-packed affair, and I was thrown right into the action being sandwiched in between the two MG’s and honestly I think I was lucky to escape that one. Race three was more promising, and I wanted to keep it clean. To come away with the Jack Sears Trophy for the third weekend is real testament to the team and the rapid development in both myself as a BTCC rookie and for the brand new Vauxhall Astra, I am thrilled."
Adam Weaver, Power Maxed Racing Team Principal reflected, “The team have had their work cut out this weekend and have again risen to the occasion. It is only the third outing for our new Vauxhall Astra Touring Car, and we are still learning a lot. So to bag points, the fastest lap and the Jack Sears is a great achievement for the team and the drivers. They are a great bunch, and I’m proud to say they represent Power Maxed Racing."
Both PMR Vauxhall Astra’s will be in action again in two weeks time at the next round of the Dunlop MSA British Touring Car Championship as the teams head to the North East to Oulton Park. Full coverage will be live on ITV4 with highlights of this weekend's coverage airing this week.
Photo © Jakob Ebrey.
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