After a steady stream of points finishes in recent rounds, the team arrived at the 2.4-mile Hampshire venue in a buoyant mood, with the Vauxhall Astra boasting a strong track record at the UK’s fastest circuit in previous years.
That proved to be the case once again in qualifying, with the team beating a whole host of the championship’s household names to put all three cars inside the top ten.
The hero of the hour was undoubtedly Mikey Doble, the rookie a stellar fourth for the opening race, with team-mates Andrew Watson and Aron Taylor-Smith locking out the fourth row in seventh and eighth respectively.
From there, despite losing some ground, Doble and Taylor-Smith put on a thrilling display for the watching crowd, plus the live ITV4 television cameras. Heading into the closing laps, a four-car train headed by Doble ran nose-to-tail contesting eighth through 11th.
Taylor-Smith, at the back of the quartet, was able to take full advantage, sweeping by Ricky Collard’s Toyota, then lunging Adam Morgan’s BMW into the complex, to claim ninth, just behind Doble at the chequered flag.
A driveshaft problem on the way to the grid would force Watson to start from the pit lane, but the Northern Irishman put in a stellar shift to rise back through the field to P18 and gave himself every chance of salvaging some points across the remaining two races.
The second contest proved to be a bit more of a stalemate, in comparison, with Taylor-Smith enjoying a steady run to eighth spot and – for the second event in succession – the coveted reverse grid draw.
Doble banked valuable points towards his Jack Sears Trophy effort in P14, with Watson climbing another two spots to P16 in his repaired challenger.
Starting on the third row after benefiting in part from the draw, Taylor-Smith took a season-best result of sixth in the finale, the 33-year-old enjoying a prolonged stint up front as part of the lead pack.
Doble and Watson would both also progress to P13 and P14, marking a triple points score for the team, and also earning Doble the Jack Sears Trophy prize for the weekend as a whole.
Leaving Thruxton, CarStore Power Maxed Racing remain third in the Independent Teams’ standings. Notably, Doble’s strong weekend moves him up to the same position in the Jack Sears Trophy race, just 11 points shy of the leader.
The 2023 BTCC season resumes at Oulton Park’s Island circuit on 17-18 June.
Andrew Watson (#11) said:
“Obviously it wasn’t the results we’d hoped for, especially after such a strong showing in qualifying. I think we’ve definitely proved in my rookie season what I can do.
“As soon as I came out of the pit lane, I knew there was an issue, so we nursed the car round to the grid and the team found a problem on the driveshaft. Everybody did such an amazing job to get us back out there, with about five minutes to finish the job.
“An incredible job by the team, and I was able to get back out and gain ten spots, which gave us a chance for the rest of the day. From there, we battled through nicely and scored some good points, overall and for the Jack Sears.
“It’s a shame, because we should have delivered more today, but mechanical problems happen and it’s nobody’s fault. Lots learned, and plenty of positives to take to Oulton Park next.”
Aron Taylor-Smith (#40) said:
“It’s been a great day, with three top-ten finishes in what is widely regarded as the pinnacle of touring car racing worldwide. We know this is a strong circuit for the Astra, but I think regardless of that, we’ve also been able to keep moving the package forward into a real sweet spot.
“It’s certainly no small effort, and sixth in particular during the last race is something to be really proud of. This year, for me, is all about just being back in the fight at the front, and we certainly took another important step towards that this weekend.
“But it’s about more than me, and I absolutely love being able to reward the guys and girls at CarStore Power Maxed Racing for all their hard work. They’ve had a rough time in the last few years, and it’s great to see everyone upbeat and enjoying their racing.
“This is the most enjoyable year of racing I’ve had in probably about ten years. I think there’s a bright future ahead, and I can’t wait to keep the momentum rolling when we rock up at Oulton in a couple of weeks and see what we can do.”
Mikey Doble (#88) said:
“What a fantastic weekend it has been for me and the team all round. Having never tested the car at Thruxton prior to FP1, I had to make the most of Saturday’s practice.
“I knew early on that we had a fast car underneath us and we managed to make it count when it mattered. To qualify on the second row of the grid, ahead of multiple series champions in only my fourth BTCC weekend has to be my best achievement of the season so far!
“Race 1 the two BMWs jumped me off the line, but I managed to hold my ground well in the top 10 with a thrilling final 3 laps to hold onto 8th. Race 2 I had some contact early doors which hurt my car slightly causing me to slip back to 14th.
“After two Jack Sears wins so far, the goal was to win the overall honours for the day and with another 14th overall and P2 in the Jack Sears it was good enough to achieve just that. It was a fantastic feeling to stand on the podium spraying champagne after what has been a memorable weekend”
Martin Broadhurst, Team Manager said:
“Given it’s track record, we always expected this would be one of the strongest circuits on the calendar for the Vauxhall Astra, so it’s nice to capitalise on that and score some good points this weekend.
“I can’t say enough about the work the team did on Andrew’s car before race one. To fix the driveshaft in a little over five minutes, and still give him a car with which he could attack and make progress, is as much a testament to our team members, as it is the Astra.
“And from there, as far as we’re concerned, it’s all good news. Plenty of points, and a great moment for Mikey on the podium as the Jack Sears Trophy winner.
“We’ll keep chipping away on the performance side and see what we can achieve at Oulton Park.”
Adam Weaver, Team Principal said:
“Overall, it’s been a strong weekend for the entire team at CarStore Power Maxed Racing, and we’re certainly leaving with our heads held high.
“I sit in on a lot of the debriefs after each session, and the atmosphere at the moment is all positive. There’s a great harmony between the drivers and the engineers, and it’s really working to help extract the maximum we can from the car going forward.
“Long may that continue, and we’re all looking ahead to Oulton Park in two weeks’ time. A huge thanks to the team, both in the garage and looking after our valued guests in hospitality, for all their efforts.”