Brand new BTCC Vauxhall Astra impresses at Donington test
The Power Maxed Racing BTCC team chose Donington Park to give their brand new factory-backed Vauxhall Astra its first test yesterday (Thursday), with the team reporting an extremely successful day’s running at the Leicestershire circuit.
The car fired up for the first time only yesterday morning, and hit the track moments later with BTCC newcomer Senna Proctor at the wheel. With many hours of testing available during a general test day at Donington, remarkably, and despite the freshness of the car, the team was able to get plenty of miles on the clock as well as completing race runs towards the end of the day.
Team Principal Adam Weaver commented: “The test day went really well. Aside from a small issue with the electronics in the morning, the car ran impeccably all day without a single issue. For a brand new car that literally started for the first time on the day, it’s very rare for a first day to go this well, so we’re pretty happy.”
The teams’ deal with Vauxhall was only announced in November, so it’s been a race against time to get the car ready ahead of the season, as Weaver explains; “There’s been several hundred man hours put into the car over the winter, plenty of late nights and a lot of weekends. It’s been a massive team effort to get the car ready, and to run without fault today is a reward for those efforts.”
As to why the team chose Donington for the car’s first test, the location and challenging nature of the circuit were high on the team’s list of priorities; “First and foremost it’s a good track with lots of variety undulations and there’s a lot going on here to test the car. The other benefit is we’re only based 45 minutes away so it’s beneficial from that respect and being based right in the middle of the country. It’s a track we know well and we’re coming here on Season Launch day and the Donington event is early in the year so it’s worthwhile being here to do the first ever test for the car."
BTCC race winner Tom Chilton and rookie Senna Proctor have been signed up to drive the two cars this year, with Clio Cup graduate Proctor given the honour of driving the car for the first time yesterday. He commented: “It was unbelievable to get my first taste of a touring car and a real privilege to be the first person to drive the new Vauxhall Astra. It was a special day, and a real big thanks to everyone at Power Maxed Racing for getting the car ready so quickly.
“We were able to do everything we needed to do, and we’ve already put a lot of miles under our belt. We turned a lot of laps towards the end of the day and did a couple of race runs. We’re already getting to grips with the new car after just one day.
“The car felt fantastic straight out of the box. It’s the first touring car I’ve driven and it’s been a big steep learning curve but a lot better than anything else I’ve ever driven. Tom is out testing next week, and the more mileage we can put on this car the better."
On the benefits of being paired with an experience driver such as Chilton, Proctor added: “Having Tom as a team mate can only benefit me, he’s a wealth of experience. He’s been racing in touring cars since the day I was born but he’s still young and I’m obviously very young, but with Tom and myself in the team I think it’s’ going to be a very good year.”
Touring Car fans will be able to see the new Vauxhall in action at the BTCC Season Launch day on Thursday 16 March, with free entry from 12.30pm. The BTCC race event at Donington takes place on Easter weekend (15-16 April), with tickets starting at £15.