CarStore Power Maxed Racing banked another Jack Sears Trophy win on a days of highs and lows in the Kwik Fit British Touring Car Championship at Oulton Park last weekend [17-18 June].
The Bidford-on-Avon team arrived the 2.2-mile Cheshire venue keen to close the gap at the summit of both the JST and Independent Teams’ standings, after a strong run of form for the trio of Andrew Watson, Aron Taylor-Smith and Mikey Doble.
The ever-thorny issue of track limits in UK motorsport reared its head once more in qualifying. Watson set a lap good enough for fifth, and a spot in the coveted top-ten shootout, but the Northern Irishman had the time wiped for the smallest of transgressions.
In his absence, Taylor-Smith took up the gauntlet, and the Dubliner put in a stellar effort on his final flying run to put his Vauxhall Astra on the fourth row, in P8. Doble would start P16, with Watson eventually coming to rest in P17.
Race day dawned with plenty of optimism in the camp, especially with rain on the weather forecast later in the day.
Taylor-Smith’s push for honours, however, would be ended abruptly in the opening race. The 33-year-old was in the battle for eighth spot heading into the final lap but was unceremoniously dumped out of the contest by an out-of-control Daniel Rowbottom.
The NAPA Ford suffered brake issues heading into Druids, and after skirting the grass on the inside of the apex slammed into the Astra, pushing Taylor-Smith off and into the barriers on the outside at high-speed.
The whole team put in a stellar effort to repair Aron’s stricken car for the second contest, a mere 90 minutes later, but it would be a tall order for Taylor-Smith to go on and add to the points scored by Doble and Watson in the opener, the duo taking the chequered flag in P13 and P15.
The pair repeated their points-scoring exploits in the second race, this time P12 and P13. It also set up a final-race shootout for the Jack Sears honours, with a healthy gap to the next-best challenger. Taylor-Smith set about making amends, and a series of boisterous passes promoted him to P19.
Had the weather stayed true to the forecast, it may well have been a different story in the final race. As it was, all three cars had to line up on the unfavoured Hard compound Goodyear tyre, with a tall order to add to their respective points tallies in a tightly-packed midfield.
They rose to the occasion well, with Watson able to sneak the final points-paying position in P15. A last-lap power steering failure for Doble left him P22 and would crucially hand the JST honours for Oulton to Watson.
The pair have both closed considerably on current class leader, the top three now blanketed by just ten points. Their efforts have also promoted the team to second spot in the Independent Teams’ standings, the gap to the top now 35 points.
The UK’s premier touring car series now heads into a six-week summer hiatus, with Croft Circuit in Yorkshire due to host the next three rounds on 29-30 July.
Andrew Watson (#11) said:
“I’m delighted to win the Jack Sears Trophy here at Oulton Park, it’s great to be back.
“I had a bit of a scrappy qualifying and made the job a little bit more difficult for myself today, but I’m really happy with how I drove through the pack and scored some nice overall points too.
“The Vauxhall Astra was great, and the whole team at CarStore Power Maxed Racing performed well. You can’t take podiums and trophies for granted, so I’m delighted for myself and the team, and we move forward to Croft after the summer break.”
Aron Taylor-Smith (#40) said:
“We arrived at Oulton with a lot of potential, and I think we definitely made the most of that, as far as qualifying goes. I was really happy to make the top-ten shootout, and I think, in an ideal scenario, the weekend would have come to us from there.
“Unfortunately, I got taken out in race one by Daniel having an accident at Druids. Whatever the reason for it, we’ve had a chat and I’ve accepted the apology, and I do appreciate him coming to speak to me about it.
“But that was effectively ‘it’ for us, then. I’m so proud of the team for getting the car turned around for race two, and hopefully a bit of an overtaking show was a fitting reward!
“We’d hoped the forecasted rain would hit for race three and give us a bit of a boost, but it wasn’t to be, and then more contact forced us to park up.
“It’s definitely one that falls under ‘frustrating’, but I’m big enough and bold enough to lick my wounds, process the weekend and start analysing where we go from here to keep progressing at Croft after the break.”
Mikey Doble (#88) said:
“It’s been a very steady, very satisfying weekend for me at Oulton Park. We’ve scored a lot of good points overall, and in the Jack Sears, and if not for an unlucky failure in the last race, I think we’d have been up there fighting with Andrew for top spot.
“It’s clear to me, the progress we’re making round-on-round. We’ve gone from the back of the midfield at the start of the season, to now being firmly in the fight at the front of that group.
“I’m looking forward to a bit of a break, and then we’ll go again at the tyre test, and when we get back to racing at Croft. Thanks to the whole team for their hard work this weekend.”
Martin Broadhurst, Team Manager said:
“It would be extremely easy to have gotten deflated after the first race, and everything that happened with Aron, but I’m so pleased with how the team rallied as a group and came together.
“Of course, full credit to Andrew and Mikey for bringing home a good haul of points in his absence, and also getting us a nice moment on the podium with a Jack Sears win, but it’s been a real team effort.
“It’s a nice note to head into the ‘break’ on – I say that, because this sport never stands still, and we’ve already got plenty to debrief on back at base and look to implement at Croft.”
Adam Weaver, Team Principal said:
“Just to echo Martin’s comments, I’m so proud of the effort put in by the whole team. We’ve had a few occasions so far this year that have been testing, but the group passed again with flying colours, and to repair Aron’s car in such a short space of time is a real testament to the talent within the team.
“On-track, it’s important to celebrate the highs as well as discuss the lows, and Andrew and Mikey were fantastic again today. It’s great to see them both get their elbows out and fight for every point, and they’ve both got a strong haul of overall and JST points to show for their efforts.
“Thanks to everybody who keeps this re-building project moving along at such a steady pace – our partners, the drivers, their engineers, mechanics, the hospitality team – the list goes on.
“Hopefully we all have a chance to decompress, and then come back for the second half of the year ready to keep pushing on.”