Senna Proctor hits top BTCC form at Oulton Park
A thrilling meeting saw Proctor claim a well deserved pole position for race one after a qualifying time just 0.001 off the best ever time around the undulating and narrow 2.23 mile circuit, then raced to victory in race three.
The 22-year-old had shown his rapid and consistent pace around the circuit just two weeks earlier in the two day annual Goodyear tyre test.
Immediately after one of the most exciting qualifying sessions of the season the BTC Racing man said: “After we were P1 here for the tyre test, there was a lot of pressure on me.
“We slipped down to second before that new tyre run at the end and then I just got the job done. I’m over the moon.
“Pole’s a really weird feeling because you’re so elated that it’s happened, but there’s still set up things to work on for tomorrow, so my mind’s already switched to race one and how to get the best out of it in those conditions.
“We did a race run at the test day, which was really positive, so I know we’re going to be quick and I know you can overthink things, so for me, it’s just going to have to be a case of getting the job done.
“I did just then in that session, so I’ve proved that I can fight up at the front.”
Raceday on the Sunday brought early showers and all the teams looked skywards to try and get the tyre choice and a car setup suitable for the changeable conditions.
Proctor lined up P1 on the softer ‘Option’ Goodyear tyre and the drama from the Saturday qualifying day escalated even further with a hugely exciting and entertaining and nail biting three races.
Race one began with Senna being passed by fellow Honda Civic FK8 drivers from the rival Team Dynamics outfit. But a sizable shunt back down the field on lap seven saw a red flag and a prolonged delay.
A full grid restart was needed and Proctor got away from the line much better than from P1 and in a frantic six-lap dash he ended up with a solid top 10 finish and no damage to the car.
Elsewhere a number of badly damaged cars were collected up and returned to the garages for the quickly approaching race two.
The second race was again full of drama and robust racing all across the 27 car grid.
But despite being very much in the thick of the action again Proctor yet again secured a solid top 10 finish and more valuable championship points.
Clearly a strong package, the ex-Scarborough College pupil,, in his Honda, was more than a match for the Kwik Fit British Touring Car Championship (BTCC) current leaders Ash Sutton and Tom Ingram.
Lap after lap Senna pressed and pressured former teammate Sutton whilst simultaneously fending off the hard charging Ingram.
Race three grid is determined by a reverse grid draw and with the sixth to 12th place finishers names in the bag for the draw.
And it was Proctor’s number that was pulled out of the bag and a second pole position of the day, much to the delight of all of those in his garage.
The final BTCC race of the weekend saw the drama crank up a notch further when the race was red flagged on two occasions, the latter incident ending the race ahead of schedule with only a couple of laps still left to run.
Five cars tangled in the mid-pack and the race was stopped to clear the cars and debris and a restart was needed.
On lap one of the restarted race Ash Sutton spun out of the race as he attacked Proctor for the lead.
Side-by-side through turn one Sutton attempted a bold move around the outside and contact sent him sliding down the order.
As battles began behind him Proctor seized his opportunity and lap by lap steadily pushed onwards and established a clear gap between him and the BMW of Stephen Jelley who couldn’t make any ground on the impressive Proctor.
Immediately after exiting his car in park ferme Proctor said: “I made such a mess of race one, it’s nice to be able to repay the team for all the hard work they’ve put in.
“Now I won’t go home kicking myself so much tonight.
“Obviously, we’d have preferred the race one win over the race three, but we’ll take it nonetheless.
“The first start was good, I had talked to Ash before and he just got tucked in front of me and I was happy to go with him really.
“Then on the second start, I got a cracking start and a bit of a run on him into turn one, and he just seemed to try and hang it around the outside.
“It was a case of ‘two doesn’t go into one’ and as he went on the exit curb and joined back on, I clipped him. It’s not the way I race.
“In my opinion, it was a racing incident. I’m just sorry to Ash for what happened, obviously we’re good mates so I hope it doesn’t affect that.
“I’m taking away that I need to get some practice starts done and not listen to as many people pre race one. But it was good!”
The BTCC next meeting is at one of Senna’s favourite circuits, Knockhill in Scotland. All of the races are shown live on ITV4 with the qualifying live at www.itv.co.uk/btcc