EXCELR8 SECURES TOP FIVE INDEPENDENTS’ SPOT
In its sophomore year in the Kwik Fit British Touring Car Championship, and the Hyundai i30s maiden campaign, Excelr8 Motorsport left Brands Hatch’s highly-anticipated season finale fifth in the Independent Teams’ Standings, following a pair of exciting announcements for the upcoming campaign.
With long-term sponsors Draper Tools committing to another year with the Suffolk-based team, 2021 will see the squad join with Trade Price Cars Racing to field a four-car attack with a quartet of Hyundais.
Damp and dreary conditions welcomed drivers Senna Proctor and Chris Smiley for the season finale and, with only one free practice session to get their cars set up, both drivers settled into the top ten during the 50-minute period.
With the rain continuing into qualifying, a wheel on the grass at Druids saw Proctor skate into the barrier in the opening five minutes. Having caused the session to be red flagged, Proctor consequently lost his best time and was unable to rejoin the session, which saw him start race one from 27th on the grid.
As conditions continued to present challenges throughout the field, Smiley struggled to challenge the top ten, but sealed 15th during the truncated session.
Determined to make up for the undesirable result of Saturday, Smiley was up two places on the opening lap, continuing forward to scythe into 12th as the session entered a safety car period.
His run would be temporarily halted by Adam Morgan and Tom Chilton, as conditions became trickier. Crossing the line in 13th, Smiley set himself up for a promising race two.
Similarly, team-mate Proctor worked through the field, gaining eight spots by the Safety Car’s appearance and maintaining his place to take 18th at the chequered flag.
After the rain of race one, the second race provided a new challenge, as the track started to dry and tactical tyre choice became a key player in the results. The Excelr8 drivers both opted for dry tyres, which proved to be a wise decision as the race played out.
Smiley made the most of a busy start, jumping four places in his #22 Hyundai to run ninth.
Proctor’s drive up the order was steadier, picking off his competitors one-by-one and by lap six, was on the tail of his teammate. By the end of the race, Proctor had gained an impressive 11 places, to finish eighth.
Smiley likewise was in a forward-thinking mood, finishing eleventh, which gave him the front row for the reverse grid.
Starting on the front row of a freshly doused grid, Smiley was determined to end the season on a high. Battling with polesitter Aiden Moffat, he found himself off wide at Graham Hill bend, dropping down the order.
The conditions were proving difficult for Proctor as well, who dropped outside the top ten, before losing his points position due to another incident.
Despite an attempt to re-enter the top ten, it was a 12th-place finish for Smiley, while Proctor took 19th.
At the conclusion of the day, it was fifth and seventh spots in the Independent and overall Teams’ Standings for Excelr8 Motorsport, a result the squad was delighted with and reflected the progress made throughout one of the most unique BTCC seasons to date.
“Thank you to everyone that has been involved with us this year, to see how the team has grown over the last 12 months is exceptional,” said Team Owner Justina Williams. “The hard work and dedication from our team has been key in developing the brand new Hyundais, and now we have had a chance to test them out at the UK’s premier motorsport venues, I’m eager for a new start as we head into 2021 with our partners.”
“We’ve been really proud of the work that our drivers have put in as well. Chris’ pace on Sunday in the last race, being the fourth quickest, proves how we could be easily battling for a win in the future, while Proctor’s overtaking was key to helping us secure fifth in the Independent Teams’ championship. I’m looking forward to the winter to get some testing under our belts and new season ahead.”
“We were really quick in that race three and could have been on the podium,” reflected Smiley. “We’ve made a lot of changes to that car and it’s really worked. My engineer has done a fantastic job having only started working with me the weekend before Brands. I cannot thank him enough.”
“We didn’t get the podium that we deserved, but I’m glad we got the points and we found a setup on the wet that works on the car, so it has certainly been a positive way to end the year. Thanks to all the sponsors that Justina has, as without them we wouldn’t be able to go racing and it’s a credit to all the team that have been working so hard this year.”
“It was fantastic to help the team achieve fifth place in the Independents’ standings as well as seventh in the overall Teams’ Championship,” concluded Proctor. “Qualifying and the rain did hamper the best running we had today, but my race one and two proved just how well this Hyundai can overtake when it matters.
“Without Draper Tools and all our sponsors investing in what we do, as well as the platform the BTCC provide for their marketing, it wouldn’t be possible to do what we do. Thank you to everyone who has been behind us this year.”