PROMISING WEEKEND ON HOME TURF FOR EXCELR8 MOTORSPORT
Excelr8 Motorsport celebrated a quintet of points-scoring finishes during the latest rounds of the Kwik Fit British Touring Car Championship, as the squad headed to its home circuit for the penultimate race weekend of the campaign.
The Suffolk-based team at last enjoyed a circuit where the data gathered at pre-season testing could be put to use, giving the pair of Hyundai i30 Fastback N Performances a new lease of life.
Showing pace during qualifying, drivers Senna Proctor and Chris Smiley would narrowly miss out on the new-for-Snetterton Top Ten Showdown, securing 11th and 13th on the grid respectively for Sunday’s initial contest.
Race one saw the pair push forward from the off, with both Hyundais breaking into the top ten by the conclusion of the opening lap.
Despite a valiant defence, a persistent Josh Cook would get past them both, resulting in a ninth-place finish for Proctor.
Having spent the majority of the race fighting to retain his top ten position, Smiley went on to take 11th at the chequered flag.
Race two saw Proctor dive forward off the line to take eighth from Cook, only to find himself back in ninth by the end of the opening lap. Despite holding position during the early stages, the #18 Hyundai dropped to 13th place.
Smiley endured a near-race-long battle with the Ford of Ollie Jackson, with his ballast-free machine getting past his team-mate and into the top ten.
A crash for Jack Goff brought out the safety car on the penultimate lap, bringing about a one-lap dash to the finish, which saw Smiley hold on to his seventh top ten finish of the year, while Proctor came home a respectable 13th.
Smiley’s tenth proved vital in the third and final race of the day, as the reverse grid draw gifted him pole position.
Swamped at the start, the Northern-Irishman dropped positions off the line before settling into a defensive drive in fourth place, rubbing bumpers with numerous championship frontrunners.
Contact with Dan Cammish on lap six saw the #22 machine off the road and into the barriers, resulting in the 28-year-old dropping to the back of the field.
Smiley would recover to take 23rd, snatching the place from Jack Butel on the final lap.
Proctor spent much of the race holding his own in the midfield and, as his team-mate tumbled down the order, set his intentions on a top-ten finish.
Despite crossing the line in 11th spot, the 22-year-old would be granted a third top ten finish of the day, as a penalty awarded to Aiden Moffat promoted the Driffield-racer to tenth.
“Such a bittersweet way to end what was a fantastic weekend for the EXCELR8 Motorsport team,” said Team Owner Justina Williams. “We’ve been working exceptionally hard to prepare for Snetterton and we showed that step forward on Sunday, holding our own against some of the series top drivers
“I cannot express how proud I am of both Chris and Senna for their driving this weekend, as well as the whole team who have been working with both drivers to get them dialled in. We’ve learned a lot and I hope we can now end the year on a high.”
“We’ve made a big step forward with the car,” added Smiley. “Making a lot a changes, we’ve looked at the areas we were struggling at, so when we rolled it out for FP1, it was completely different to how I’ve had it before. The car felt really race-ready.
“It was a good day for me, pace-wise. Thankfully, the weather held out too and it was quite a nice day for October. The car is a lot better, so it was only a shame that Cammish took me off in race three. We were on for a good result, but when that happens unfortunately you cannot do much more.”
“Race one and qualifying were good for us, so we can’t complain too much at the pace this weekend, it was just an anomaly in race two,” concluded Proctor. “That was a shame but, overall, I think we found a few little tricks in qualifying that really worked.
“We made a few changes through the weekend, but it was just trying to figure out how to improve them in the right way. The race two anomaly was because of a non-ideal setup, which we tried to make the most of, but it didn’t work unfortunately.
“In that last race we certainly had the pace to run with the people at the front, it was just a shame how it all panned out as we lost too much ground at the start for it to be meaningful at the end.”