5 Podium Positions Signal Strong End to PMR’s TCR-UK 2021 Campaign
Bank holiday Monday saw the 2021 TCR-UK Season Finale, with a short Free Practice session, Qualifying and 3 sprint races taking place across the single day event. Dan Kirby, who would finish his first complete season with the Warwickshire-based team, would go into the weekend 2nd in the Championship, just a few points behind 2020 Champion Lewis Kent.
Kirby would be joined by teammate Jac Constable, who became part of the team at the start of the year as BTCC Development Driver. The 22-year-old has proven himself worthy of a place at the front of the pack, bagging a brace of race wins, podiums and fastest laps in his first ever competitive foray into front-wheel-drive touring car racing.
Former international rally driver Will Butler would be taking to the track again, and would bag himself a career best position over the weekend. Butler has transitioned well from the world of rallying to that of touring car racing, bagging consistent Top-10 finishes throughout the season.
The team would be rounded off by European TCR race winner Alex Morgan. The Welsh racer has earned himself a reputation for being a formidable foe, scoring podium finishes in almost every race he entered. He would be ineligible to score points, as his late entry into the season meant he counted as a guest driver.
An early Free Practice session would see the plain white Cupra of Morgan top the times, with Constable’s Power Maxed & Ravenscroft car less than 0.07 of a second behind. Kirby would experience a misfire early on, meaning his fastest lap would net him P12, whilst Butler would cross the line P6.
Qualifying would see results that were not entirely dissimilar, with Morgan being pipped to Pole by 0.25 of a second, with Constable coming through to start the first race P4, and Butler just behind in P8. Kirby would experience the same issues as during Free Practice, meaning the Championship hopeful would be beginning Race 1 from P13.
Race 1 would see a strong battle at the front, as Morgan entered the first corners alongside the Pole car of Winfield, getting himself in front on the first lap, holding that position until the end of the race to take the chequered flag. Constable seized the opportunity to grab P2 at the same time, which he held for the majority of the race, before pushing wide on the penultimate lap and being passed by Winfield. With Morgan and Constable crossing the line P1 & P3 respectively, the team would bag their first double podium of the weekend, as well as Constable securing Fastest Lap.
Slightly further back, Championship contender Kirby was battling his way through the field to secure P6 by the flag, lessening the gap with his rivals. But, with two races to go, it was still all to play for. Unfortunately, Butler was unable to capitalise on his mid-grid place and strong pace, after being forced to pit with a puncture, meaning he would finish, albeit 3 laps down.
Race 2 would see the Top 6 finishers start in reverse order, giving Kirby Pole, with Constable starting P4 and Morgan P6. Kirby made a good start to take the hole shot, before an incident with Hart put him on the backfoot. Come Lap 3, Hart, Kirby, Winfield and Constable would enter the Old Hairpin, with the latter exiting first to take the lead, which he would keep until the close of play, taking the win.
Mid-session would see Kirby take to the grass, blocking his radiator intake and necessitating a visit to the pits for it to be removed, dashing his title hopes in one foul swoop. In the end he would finish 1 lap down, crossing the line P14. Team mates Morgan and Butler would fair better, with Morgan bagging P3, securing his second podium of the weekend, and another double podium for the team, whilst Butler would fight hard to secure P7 from his start at the back of the grid.
Race 3 would take place later in the day than is usual, and make use of the “Second Fastest” from Qualifying format, meaning that Morgan would start from Pole, whilst Championship hopeful Kent would start from the back of the grid. With significant delays accumulating throughout the day, the championship deciding race would be shortened to just 15 minutes, meaning tyre management techniques would be thrown out of the window, and it was all to play for.
Unfortunately for Morgan, a driveshaft failure on the start line would mean his race was over before it had even begun, giving Constable and Winfield the opportunity to find their way to the front of the pack to fight for the win. Unfortunately, contact between the two through Craners would send Constable into the gravel, ending his race, and his first season in TCR, in less than spectacular fashion.
Both Kirby and Butler would continue to fight, with the former crossing the line P2, securing his place on the podium for the final round of the year, although it wouldn’t be enough to hold his runner up place in the overall championship standings. Butler would drive his best race of the season, ending his year in fantastic fashion when he crossed the line in his highest ever position of P4.
In the end, the championship would be taken by 2020 Champion, Lewis Kent, but had Kirby not ended up on the grass in Race 2, it’s entirely possible that he could have taken the title.
Power Maxed Car Care Racing will return to TCR-UK in 2022.