Points windfall and JST win for CarStore PMR at Croft
CarStore Power Maxed Racing scored a decent haul of points and took the lead in the Jack Sears Trophy as the Kwik Fit British Touring Car Championship returned to action at Croft this weekend [29-30 July].
Refreshed after the summer break, and with the wind in their sails after a strong showing at the in-season Goodyear Tyre Test, the Bidford-on-Avon squad made the trip to Yorkshire looking to build on a positive first five rounds of the 2023 campaign.
Good pace in practice translated to a fourth row starting slot in qualifying for Aron Taylor-Smith in the leading Vauxhall Astra, with team-mates Mikey Doble and Andrew Watson in P15 and P20 respectively, and in with a good shout of scoring some points.
And so that proved to be the case, as the trio got their elbows out and mucked in with the rest of the UK’s brightest touring car talents on a typically eventful race day in front of a capacity crowd – and millions more at home watching live on ITV4.
After being shuffled wide at Clervaux on the opening lap in race one, Taylor-Smith rallied well, and the Irishman steadily returned through the order to complete the top ten. Doble and Watson similarly went on the offensive, rising to P14 and P17 at the chequered flag.
Using up the best of his Goodyear tyres whilst stuck behind slower cars hampered Taylor-Smith’s progress in race two and, once released, he could only scale back as far as P12. It would be Watson that triumphed in the inter-team battle with Doble on this occasion, finding a way past to claim the final point in 15th.
All three drivers then turned in a weekend-best showing to round out the day, with Taylor-Smith recovering from a grid penalty to storm nine places up the order and take ninth. The 33-year-old’s defensive prowess was on display once again, holding off a succession of challengers to end the triple header with a windfall of points.
Doble and Watson were similarly on the move to P12 and P14, that despite Watson being forced onto the grass at Tower on the opening lap and falling to the back.
Crucially for Doble, that netted him not only the Jack Sears Trophy victory for the day as a whole, but also promoted the rookie to the lead in the class standings, with Watson similarly leap-frogging the competition into second spot.
Seven points separate the pair, with CarStore Power Maxed Racing also cementing a solid second in the Independent Teams’ Championship. The series heads next to Knockhill, Fife over the weekend of 12-13 August.
Andrew Watson (#11) said:
“Everything today was hard-fought for, I would say. We gave ourselves a lot to do with qualifying not going to plan, but we fought through the pack well, scored really good Jack Sears points and got up to second in that championship.
“It’s not bad, from that point of view. I got run off in the last race, but touring cars is rough, so I felt the brunt of that! Overall, not a bad weekend, we closed up the championship lead, and I’m learning lots. Plenty to digest before Knockhill, which I’m looking forward to already.”
Aron Taylor-Smith (#40) said:
“This has probably been, historically, a tough circuit for the Vauxhall Astra over the last few years, I don’t think it’s been inside the top ten for a couple of years here.
“The work that the whole team have been doing, both at the tyre test and here at Croft this weekend, has gotten us back into that ballpark, and having the ability to fight.
“The penalty in race two was unfortunate. Everybody’s entitled to their opinion, but I felt it was a bit on the harsh side. But that’s life!
“We started 18th, and on the hard tyre, so to come back through to ninth was a real positive, everybody did a great job. Of the five circuits left in this second half of the season, Croft was probably the hardest, and we’ve gotten that out of the way now.
“I’m really excited for Knockhill, and I feel like we can do a really good job there, too.”
Mikey Doble (#88) said:
“Three great races today, and I’ve come away with the Jack Sears Trophy, my second of the season, so I’m proud to win this once again.
“I think we’ve taken the lead of the Jack Sears standings, so that’s the main objective we had coming into the weekend achieved.
“But three very solid results. We didn’t make as much progress as we’d have liked on the soft tyres, but on the hard tyre, the car was mega. Credit to the team, and everyone who’s prepared the car.”
Martin Broadhurst, Team Manager said:
“This isn’t historically the strongest circuit for the car, but I think the results we’ve achieved this weekend just continue to demonstrate the progress we’re making with the Vauxhall Astra at the moment.
“Our one-lap pace was good enough for all three drivers to be in the top ten, as Aron was, and in race trim, we were more than able to hold our own against a range of different cars, including a BMW, which would have been un-thinkable at Croft just a season or two ago.
“A huge thanks to the whole team for their effort and dedication. We really are taking steps in the right direction every weekend. I’m looking forward to Knockhill, and what we can do there.”
Adam Weaver, Team Principal said:
“It’s another decent haul of points, and we’ve got both of our Jack Sears Trophy-eligible drivers to the top of that championship now. As Croft weekends go, historically, that has to be up there for us!
“It was great to see the guys have a chance to make progress and get their elbows out during the races, too. We’re in a position out of the box every weekend now where we can be competitive and ‘have a go’ – and that’s a real testament to Martin, our team and the drivers for engaging in that process so enthusiastically.
“It’s an exciting time to be a part of the team, and long may that continue. Thanks as always to our partners and the staff behind-the-scenes, including the hospitality – without it, we don’t go racing, so their support is always much appreciated.”