Evans Halshaw Power Maxed Racing claim Independents’ clean sweep at Donington Park opener

Evans Halshaw Power Maxed Racing’s pursuit for perfection left them wanting more from the opening rounds of the 2024 Kwik Fit British Touring Car Championship at Donington Park this past weekend (April 27-28) despite claiming a hat-trick of Independent race wins.

The Worcestershire-based squad were the class of the Independent runners as the curtain lifted on a brand-new season with Árón Taylor-Smith winning twice, while Mikey Doble also triumphed on his way to scooping the Jack Sears Trophy.

However, such is the desire to contend for outright race wins and podiums, the team were left focused on how they could make further improvements heading into the next few race meetings. 

Arriving at the Leicestershire venue off the back of a productive pre-season testing programme, both drivers enjoyed strong showings across Saturday’s two free practice sessions before heading into qualifying - which was running under the ‘Quick Six’ format for the first-ever time. 

Despite having to contend with changeable weather conditions, both Taylor-Smith and Doble progressed out of Q1 and then came oh-so close to squeezing into the top six, instead having to settle for seventh and tenth respectively. 

Race day saw heavy rain cause lengthy delays in the morning but when the action did get underway, both Taylor-Smith and Doble found themselves in the thick of the action. 

Taylor-Smith led the line in the opening encounter as he scrapped with Josh Cook and Dan Cammish on his way to seventh overall while Doble narrowly missed out on the top ten by taking the chequered flag in 12th.

Sunday’s second bout saw both drivers tally another double points finish as the impact of hybrid deployment began to become more of a factor.

Battling fiercely in the midfield, Taylor-Smith headed Doble to claim a second successive Independent victory, with the latter taking a big stride towards clinching overall honours in the Jack Sears Trophy. 

After missing out on the reverse grid draw for the final race of the day, the front-wheel-drive duo produced a near carbon-copy performance from race two as they again diced between themselves for coveted points.

Doble would find a way past Taylor-Smith late on to clinch his maiden Independents’ win of the year and with it, victory in the Jack Sears Trophy. 

Leaving Donington Park, Evans Halshaw Power Maxed Racing hold an 11-point lead at the top of the Independent Teams’ Championship while a mere three points is the difference between Taylor-Smith and Doble in the Independent Drivers’ Championship. 

Árón Taylor-Smith: “To kick off the season with a clean sweep of Independent wins is something we as a team can be extremely proud of as its a testament to all of the work that has been put in during the winter.

“I’m personally really happy to come away with P7 in qualifying as it outlines our pace over one lap. On race day we fought as hard as we could and importantly uncovered a few little areas that I know we can improve on heading to Brands Hatch in a few weeks’ time.

“This season has kicked off what I think is going to be a really successful 2024 and it’s nice to know that we have a package underneath us that is more than capable of challenging towards the front of the grid.”

Mikey Doble: “I’m satisfied with how our weekend ended, coming away with the overall Jack Sears Trophy and an Independents’ win in race three. It’s been a solid start with three top ten points finishes and a continuation of qualifying inside the top ten.

“We’ll go over the data from the weekend before we head to Brands Hatch and see how we can close the gap to those at the front. Overall it’s been a great first weekend of the year!"

Martin Broadhurst, Team Manager: “It’s been a bit of an up and down weekend I think because while it was great to take a clean sweep of Independent wins, establishing ourselves as regular top six runners is what we’re striving for.

“The weekend’s results leave us looking deep within ourselves and the engine as the hard work we carried out over the winter, and then pre-season, should have positioned us slightly higher up the order.

“I can’t knock the team as they’ve all worked tirelessly. I also can’t thank all of our fantastic partners for their support because the whole operation - from the garage to the car to team kit look slick. We’ve got work to do but I’m optimistic we can take a step forward at Brands.”

Adam Weaver, Team Principal: “If I’m honest I’ve got mixed feelings because while I’m extremely happy with the team, I’m somewhat disappointed with our results on-track. Of course, winning in the Independents’ Championship is always nice but we should be fighting for outright podiums and wins.

“Both us as a team and M-Sport, the TOCA engine providers, have a lot of work to do if we are going to mount a challenge to the guys at the front. Even with the new hybrid format Ingram and Sutton managed to run off in Races 1 and 2 - which wasn’t supposed to happen really.

“It’s nice to come away with a good haul of silverware but I’m very much keeping my feet on the ground and remaining realistic at the moment. We’ve got a fantastic team and I’m confident that we can take that next step forward.”

The 2024 Kwik Fit British Touring Car Championship season continues in less than a fortnight on May 11-12 around the Brands Hatch Indy circuit.