Power Maxed TAG Racing re-affirmed its title credentials as Rounds 16, 17 and 18 of the Dunlop MSA British Touring Car Championship took place around the challenging curves of MSV’s Snetterton circuit in Norfolk. The hard-working team returned to action at Snetterton after a mid-season break punctuated by the annual tyre test, also at Snetterton, and the spectacular appearance at the Goodwood Festival of Speed.
Free Practice session 1 suffered the worst possible start, as Josh slid into the back of Senna’s slowing Astra on the out lap, causing the #66 car to miss the whole session.
Despite being on the back foot, Josh still managed to qualify in P6 for Race 1, although lack of running caught up with him somewhat in Qualifying 2 (a separate session for the Diamond Double Race 3) to place a slightly disappointing P11. Senna was frustrated, suffering a lack of balance resulting in a P19 for the qualifying for Race 1, only for his mood to darken with the weather to qualify P25 for the double-length Race 3.
Meanwhile Senna placed the second Power Maxed TAG Racing Astra in P14, less than 3/10ths away from Josh and with a bit of work to do on race day.
After a scorching summer, race day dawned with unexpected gale force winds and driving rain, creating a welcome rush on the heavy weight Power Maxed TAG Racing merchandise jackets before Race 1.
A soaking track greeted the first race and saw Josh get too much wheelspin on the initial launch, dropping a place to the fast-starting Subaru of Sutton, and going onto the defensive in the opening skirmishes.
Further back, Senna’s Power Maxed TAG Racing Vauxhall Astra was hidden in the spray, as he avoided the rebounding BMW of Collard, only to be hit on the rear corner by the second Subaru of Plato. Proctor pressed on before pitting at the end of the opening lap, resuming two laps down and circulating until the end of the 12-lap race.
Meanwhile, Cook had consolidated his position and pulled away into a clear 4th place, following the 3rd place Honda of Cammish to the flag and a comfortable and welcome return to Race 1 form.
Race 2 saw conditions improve to a damp circuit and Josh make a better start to hold 4th place, moving to 3rd as the race moved in to its second half. Showing blistering speed, the Power Maxed TAG Racing Vauxhall Astra dragged up onto the back of the works Honda of Cammish. A dogfight ensued with the clearly quicker Cook searching for a way past, knowing the race-leading Subaru of reigning Champion Sutton was pulling away.
Frustratingly, Josh finally made his move just as the Safety Car was deployed, passing on the blind side of a yellow and having to hand the place back to the Honda as the field formed in single file. At the restart, Josh took a lap to get back past and cruised back up onto the tail of Sutton, eager for the win. Sadly, we were now on the last lap and sturdy defence by the Subaru secured a fortuitous win by a narrow margin.
The cameras didn’t know which Power Maxed TAG Racing Astra to follow at one point as Senna was carving through the field like a hot knife through butter. Memories of his epic drive at Brands Hatch resurfaced as the Yorkshireman flew from 25th on the grid to a superb 7th after 14 hectic laps, reserving his place at the hot end of the Dunlop Forever Forward leaderboard.
Well-orchestrated 60th anniversary celebrations were dampened again by the weather, as the field lined up for the 21-lap Diamond Double race, although the field were once again on slicks.
Whilst Race 3 typically has a last chance saloon feel about it, the drivers were obviously conscious of the double championship points on offer, as the field behaved relatively well in the opening laps. Sadly, this didn’t apply to the cars around Senna as he was pushed wide, losing the benefits of a great start, although he still crossed the line in P16, up from P19.
When the Safety Car appeared after 3 laps for the crash between Smith and Oliphant (so much for the conservative approach to a long race...), Josh was up to P9 and Senna was P15.
By lap 5, Cook was now caught up behind Smiley’s wide Honda, frantically searching for a way past as his young teammate continued to move forward, this time coming around in P13.
To add more spice to an already spicy mix, rain started to fall on the back of the Snetterton 300 circuit, wipers frantically clearing water as the drivers searched for both grip and visibility, Power Maxed Rain Off doing its thing to maximise visibility for Astras #18 and #66.
Cars were running 3 and 4 abreast as openings were sought and doors frantically shut. In the melee, and with Cook still stuck behind Smiley, the rear bumper of Cook’s Astra was left flailing as Turkington got far too close, the BMW in a very tight Vauxhall sandwich with Senna searching for a way past the former Champion, as the squabbling foursome started losing touch with the train battling for 4th place ahead.
Josh was then unceremoniously punted wide by Turkington at the final corner, with Senna put right behind. The Mercedes of Morgan snuck past Senna and then proceeded to shunt Josh wide, only to then spin across the bows of #66 and into retirement.
Entering into unknown territory for tyre degradation, Senna now passed Josh on lap 15 and entered into a great battle with Turkington and Smiley, pulling alongside the BMW as they tousled over a small but important part of Norfolk. All this hard work was then undone on lap 17 as Smiley repeated Turkington’s move on Josh, firing the #18 wide at the last corner, dropping Senna back to P12 and putting the Honda into retirement.
As the race entered its last stages Josh re-joined the fight with Turkington, the two battle-scarred challengers (actually caused as they came together on lap 3) crossing the line a few tenths apart in P6 and P7. A recovering Senna managed to recover a place on the final lap, only to be penalised 0.1 sec to be reclassified behind Jackson. Unfortunately, this also had the effect of losing another place to Thompson with the Power Maxed TAG Racing Astra now classified in P12.
Power Maxed TAG Racing once again just missed out on the Dunlop Forever Forward award with Senna scrapping expertly from P25 to P7 in race 2 and P20 to P10 in the double-length Race 3.
Snetterton sees the Championship enter the second half of this 60th anniversary year and marks a welcome return to front-running performances by both drivers.
Power Maxed TAG Racing now sits 2nd in the Teams’ Championship (by one point following the Proctor penalty), 3rd in the Manufacturers’, and 5th and 12th in the Drivers.
Roll on Rockingham.
Josh Cook, Power Maxed TAG Racing Vauxhall Astra #66 said: ““It was a great weekend for me. P2 in Race 2 was, obviously, a great result. I’m gutted that I didn’t quite have the time to get past Ash Sutton, and even he admitted that he was right on the limit, and if we’d had another lap I would’ve taken him. The car performed fantastically all weekend, and Martin Broadhurst and the team pulled out a corker. I’m really proud to have done Euro Repair Car Service, Glide Parking and Helix Clutches proud this weekend.”
Senna Proctor, Power Maxed TAG Racing Vauxhall Astra #18 said: “I’m really happy with my pace over the weekend. The incident in Race 1 with Jason was really frustrating, and undoubtedly cost us some points, but I couldn’t be happier with Race 2. Both Josh and I were held up for a number of laps by Smiley, and after passing Josh, a coming together with the Honda cost me a number of places. Still, we pulled a good amount of points from the weekend, which sees us in a great position in the championship.”
Martin Broadhurst, Technical Director, Power Maxed TAG Racing “Both the cars had really good pace throughout the day, and I couldn’t be prouder of both Josh and Senna. From a technical perspective, we were slightly on the back foot after an incident in FP1 meant Josh was unable to finish the session, but, as always, the team worked relentlessly to make sure we were on the pace from the get go come Race Day. All in all, we’ve come away from the weekend with a good points haul, and that can only help our championship campaign.”
Adam Weaver, Team Principal, Power Maxed TAG Racing ““What a weekend! The 60th Anniversary celebrations were always going to be something special, and the racing today was some of the closest I’ve seen all year. Both Josh and Senna did us proud today, and even with a couple of issues beyond our control, we came away with some really positive results and, more importantly, points.”
Power Maxed TAG Racing back in BTCC title fight