Power Maxed Racing were in action this weekend in the latest round of the Dunlop MSA British Touring Car Championship in the North East of
England at Croft. The weekend saw the team record their highest qualification of the season and find pace but suffer at the hands of some robust on-track action.
The weekend started as it went on for Hunter Abbott who seemed to have a target on his back, he had only just started FP1 when he received a hefty thump from behind courtesy of Jake Hill. The result was the geometry of the Cruze was knocked off and compromised Hunters speed for the session. Fletcher spent the session learning the track and finalising particular corners, a solid strategy for FP1.
Free Practice 2 was an entirely different story, with the car geometry restored by the team, Abbott was able to show his speed placing 9th in the session, fastest in the second speed trap and second fastest across the finish line. Fletcher also had a confident outing and made rapid progress when donning new tyres, improving his pace by 2.7 seconds.
All eyes were on qualifying as the Power Maxed Racing duo took to the North Yorkshire track. Both cars were building speed nicely until the red flag stopped the session with 10 minutes left to run. Hunter emerged from the pits with new tyres, warmed them and then set a flyer putting the Power Maxed Racing Cruze 7th on the grid just 0.065s off being on the front row. Having made a small mistake on a gear change on his fastest lap as well, 2nd would have been ours. Fletcher made great gains over his practice sessions, felt good in the car and showed great pace.
Sunday morning brought drier and brighter weather as the cars prepared themselves for Race One. Hunter got off the line and was in the leading pack entering the first corner; with oversteer from cold rear tyres sending him sideways into the Mercedes of Morgan. Both cars recovered at the same time but as Hunter's Cruze straightened he was sandwiched between Morgan and the BMW of Collard, breaking his suspension and ending his promising start. Fletcher got off the line well, was showing pace and mixing it with the pack and making two great overtakes. The safety car bunched him up, and while getting ready for the restart, he collided with the Subaru of James Cole, damaging both cars and ending his race, an incident for which he received two penalty points.
As the sun emerged from the clouds, the cars lined up for the start of Race Two, with both PMR cars opting to run the hard tyre for this race. Due to the first race incidents, both Power Maxed Racing Chevrolets were towards the back of the grid with Hunter starting last in 32nd position and Kelvin in 28th. Both drivers got a good start; Abbott worked hard early in the race to get the tyres to come in as he cut through the pack with some stunning overtakes to cross the line 19th. Likewise, Fletcher was also on a charge with good pace from the harder tyre. Showing his increasing comfort in the car, he managed many overtakes and crossed the line not far behind his teammate in 22nd having made up six places.
The rain started to fall just before the cars left the garage for Race Three forcing the team to make a call on wet or slick tyres, Power Maxed Racing opted for wet tyres as many in the field gambled on slicks. Fortunately, the rain increased vindicating the decision. Abbott was making significant progress from his 19th place starting position and was locked in a battle for 13th with Jeff Smith, Abbott pressured Smith, who made a mistake and ran wide at turn one and through the gravel trap. Unfortunately, Smith rejoined the track straight into the side of Abbott ending both his charge and his race. As the rain intensified, Fletcher was given a baptism of fire as it was his first ever wet race. The Lancastrian was doing well, and confidence was growing, finding areas of grip. Regrettably Fletcher was forced to retire just before the end as damage from previous contact had created a gap in the rear door causing the cold air to rush into the car and was steaming up making seeing out impossible.
Hunter Abbott commented,
"It’s been a promising weekend, we had really great pace. Race 1, being new to FWD showed as I didn’t quite have enough temperature in the rear left tyre which started the slide and forced retirement from the race and that’s my responsibility, Race 2 was good and race 3 was going well until Jeff decided to come back onto the circuit through me. It’s frustrating, but real progress is being made. Our pace has been building since Thruxton, and we’ve been in the top five lap times at Thruxton, Oulton and Croft. On-track incidents have been the scourge of my season; I’m going to work on my sixth sense over the break."
Kelvin Fletcher commented,
"I had a good weekend on the whole and learnt a hell of a lot more about racing in the UK's best championship. Competing in my first ever wet race was an eye-opener, but it's all valuable experience, and I am making progress."
Adam Weaver, Power Maxed Racing Team Principal, explained,
"It has been a tough weekend for the team and the drivers, for all the highs in motorsport you also get weekends like this one where nothing seems to go to plan. On a positive note, we are at the Goodwood Festival of Speed this weekend with our sponsors 3M and the week after we have two days of testing, we are looking forward to moving the car forward again."
The Dunlop MSA British Touring Car Championship takes a break until the end of July when it will return at Snetterton