Thrills and spills for CarStore Power Maxed Racing at Thruxton
CarStore Power Maxed Racing made its second trip of the season to Thruxton last weekend (27/28 August) as the Kwik Fit British Touring Car Championship roared into Hampshire for the eighth event of the 2022 campaign.
The team arrived at the UK’s fastest circuit buoyed by recent improvements to its pair of Vauxhall Astras and hopeful of a strong weekend, kicking off Saturday by showing promising pace in the pair of free practice sessions.
With qualifying up next, both Michael Crees and Ash Hand headed into the session apprehensive at first, but with the pair posting solid times early on, their apprehension was short lived.
Hand would eventually clinch sixth-fastest with his team-mate marginally behind in seventh for Sunday’s opener, marking the team’s best result of the season and both drivers’ best-ever qualifying.
Sunday morning’s tranquil atmosphere proved to be the calm before the storm, as race one’s frenetic action unfolded and both drivers were forced to take evasive action in order to avoid incidents but came out relatively unscathed.
A career-best finish of fifth and the Independents’ win rewarded Hand’s work during the 16-lap contest, as Crees drove his #777 machine to a respectable eighth.
The second contest saw Hand lose out off the line but hold sixth in the early stages, before he was forced to retire with mechanical problems.
Having fallen back initially, Crees battled his way back to ninth between championship contenders Josh Cook and Colin Turkington.
After an herculean effort by the CarStore Power Maxed Racing crew, with a full engine change between the second and third encounter, the #97 car of Hand headed out for the final race of the day, with Crees starting from P3 by virtue of the reverse grid draw.
Unfortunately, a poor start saw Crees drop down the order, after he was pushed back to ninth in the first few corners. The Broadstairs racer fought his way back to eight at the chequered flag, having pressured title challenger Tom Ingram for seventh.
With Hand fighting hard from his starting position at the back of the grid, and setting the fastest lap of the race early on in doing so, the 28-year-old made his way to 16th by lap nine. Narrowly missing out on a points finish, a last-lap incident saw Hand finish the day with 17th.
“A much better weekend on the whole, but still a very tough one at times,” said Team Principal Adam Weaver. “As always, we showed our pace on Sunday this time however we had a great qualifying session and started in the starting positions we deserve. Unfortunately, the failure of a vital component put paid to what could have been for Hand’s weekend. He had a great quali and race one result, even with what we now know was a failing engine that eventually ruined his race two, which led to a frantic engine change and him starting at the back for race three. However, Crees had three solid finishes and we showed we have the pace. I’m still confident of that elusive podium before the season’s end.”
“A solid weekend,” added Crees. “My best weekend ever in the BTCC, which is testament to all the hard work that the teams around me are putting in. I’m gutted I couldn’t convert my start in the last race into a podium for myself and all the team to reward their efforts. However, that aside, I’m happy and I’m really excited for Silverstone – hopefully we can do as well or even better there.”
“A great weekend in terms of speed and personal performance,” reflected Hand “We just need to carry that on to the end of the season and keep building on what we have. This – our best result so far – will be one of many good results that come from our last nine races.”
“It was great to have the commentators and professional pundits commentating on our drivers and their successes through the weekend, which is how they deserve to be spoken about, but fate and fortune has not allowed it to show,” concluded Team Manager Martin Broadhurst. “They, along with all the staff at CarStore Power Maxed racing, are working harder than ever before. This season has been so tough and to have visible progress is incredible for us all. However, Thruxton was far from easy, and we will continue our relentless efforts to make sure we put on a great show for the final two events of the season.”