The Bidford-on-Avon team arrived at the 2.97-mile Norfolk venue looking to recover the front-running form the team displayed at the Donington Park season opener, after a subsequent, more frustrating trip to Brands Hatch a fortnight ago.
After placing all three cars within the top ten in practice, qualifying proved to be a frustrating affair for the team’s trio of Aron Taylor-Smith, Andrew Watson, and Mikey Doble, with a combination of track limits and persistent red-flag stoppages hampering their best efforts.
Taylor-Smith was highest-placed in 12th, and the Irishman got his elbows out in race trim to advance forward and round out the top ten in the opening race, just shy of an Independent race victory. Doble emerged on top of an inter-team battle with Watson over 17th and 18th spots.
Once again in race two, Taylor-Smith proved to be the star, defending like a lion on slower, medium compound tyres against a whole host of the championship’s chief protagonists to bank more points in 12th.
The 33-year-old’s antics were the focus of ITV4’s live television coverage for a fair majority of the 12-lap contest, and crucially earned the team a spot in the coveted reverse grid draw. Watson made it ‘one-all’ against Doble, the pair taking the chequered flag 18th and 19th respectively.
But luck fell against the CarStore-backed squad on this occasion and, with all three cars now running the Hard tyre, with a 2.5-second per lap deficit to the quicker compounds, it would be an uphill task to salvage anything from the finale.
Taylor-Smith fought hard to hold on for a hat-trick of points but contact from behind pitched the Vauxhall Astra into a spin at Williams, and after striking the barrier, the four-time race winner was forced to limp back to the pits, and into an early retirement from the race.
Doble and Watson battled on in a closely-packed midfield, with the former ending the weekend amongst the points in P15, Watson just behind in P17.
As a result of the weekend, CarStore Power Maxed Racing sit third in the Independent Teams standings, with Doble and Watson now fourth and fifth outright in the Jack Sears Trophy stakes.
Another quick turn-around means the team will return to action at the high-speed Thruxton circuit in Hampshire on 3-4 June.
Andrew Watson (#11) said:
“The weekend started quite positively; we had the pace yesterday to qualify inside the top ten. But track limits scuppered that, and we struggled running back in the pack today.
“In the last race, on the Hard tyre, the ambient temperature dropped a bit, so I think we just missed the window. It was just about staying on track and scoring some Jack Sears Trophy points.
“A difficult weekend, but we’re still feeling positive. The team did everything right and ran well, there were no mistakes from that side, so fair play. We move on to Thruxton.”
Aron Taylor-Smith (#40) said:
“I feel we got everything we could out of the CarStore Power Maxed Racing Astra this weekend, and I’m particularly pleased with the performance in both races one and two.
“It’s always nice to be battling against the manufacturer-supported programmes, and to put on the show that we did. I particularly enjoyed race two, it was nice to be right in the thick of the action from the start to the end.
“Race three was just unfortunate contact from another driver, which put us out of the race. There’s nothing I could have done to avoid it. It was a shame because the car felt very strong, and I think we could have challenged for a top ten.
“But that is life, after reviewing the judicials, there’s nothing more I could have done. Overall, I’m very happy with our performance.
“In my opinion, we were strong from the get-go all weekend, which bodes well heading to a historically strong circuit for the Astra in Thruxton. We’ve shown our potential across all three races, and we can build on this at the next round.”
Mikey Doble (#88) said:
“It was nice to get an entire weekend in the dry conditions under my belt. The car felt really good, and I’m really pleased with how the team, and I are working to develop it and keep pushing forward.
“That was reflected in my best qualifying of the season yesterday, and in the races today, we definitely held our own out there.
“The first two races were steady, we kept out of trouble and put a good showing in. Race 3 was definitely the highlight; against all odds, on the Hard tyre, the car felt really good and we narrowly missed out on being the top Jack Sears Trophy scorer.
“It was, however, good to come away with a points finish in the last race, and it gives us something to build on next time out at Thruxton.”
Martin Broadhurst, Team Manager said:
“In some respects, it was a case of ‘what could have been’, but it’s a mark of how far the team has come in such a short space of time that we are scoring points consistently, even on the tougher weekends.
“The results definitely don’t reflect the pace in the cars, but it was a messy qualifying session, with red flags and so on, and once you’re in the pack, it’s very difficult in such a closely-packed field to make any real progress through from there.
“But the team and drivers performed really well to extract the most we could from the situation, and we can go home tonight comforted in the knowledge that we’re in the right ballpark, and one day soon, the progress we’ve been making will come good.”
Adam Weaver, Team Principal said:
“There’s no hiding that we’re a bit disappointed to only leave Snetterton this weekend with a handful of points.
“But, to put a positive spin on that, I’d rather know we have more pace in the car and just need the stars to align for us, than be in a situation where we’re left scratching our heads.
“That isn’t the case at all, and the entire team at CarStore Power Maxed Racing continue to astound me with their hard work, dedication, and positive attitude as we continue to re-build the team back to being a race-winning outfit on a regular basis.
“Thruxton is a circuit that should suit the car, so the important thing here is to take the points, chalk the weekend off as another mark on the development front and keep the momentum rolling to the next one.
“A final word of thanks to our hospitality team as well, who continue to deliver an excellent experience for all of our valued partners, sponsors and team guests on a race day.”