KNOWLE’s Will Powell is looking forward to the next Kwik Fit British Touring Car Championship event at Thruxton this weekend (28-29 May) after making a solid start on his BTCC debut in far from ideal circumstances.
Despite his extensive racing experience in other categories such as GT3, GT4 and TCR racing, Sutton Coldfield-born Powell only began his very steep BTCC learning curve when he made his maiden run in the ultra-competitive series at Brands Hatch (15 May).
The reigning Britcar Endurance Champion embarked on a very public test session in front of ‘live’ television cameras and a large crowd at Brands, Powell not having driven the Team HARD. Racing Cupra Leon before the first practice session.
Not only is Will trying to learn about the complexities of the hi-tec car but he’s racing against vastly experienced BTCC drivers, like Jason Plato, who has contested over 600 BTCC races.
Powell finished all three races staged in dry, wet and damp conditions, in the Autobrite Direct with JourneyHero Cupra Leon, ultimately clocking-up 185 valuable miles over the two days despite various new car teething issues and impressively set the fifth outright fastest lap time in the opening race, the second quickest in his ‘Independents’ class.
Powell said: “I’m really looking forward to the next three races at Thruxton which will hopefully be more ‘normal’ than my recent BTCC debut at Brands Hatch allowing me to get more to grips with the Cupra Leon.
“Brands was a massive learning curve for me. Trying to understand the car in varying weather conditions, often racing on slick, ‘dry’ weather tyres on a wet or damp track, was hard work and no two sessions were the same.
“My Cupra Leon was built up by Team HARD. Racing in record-breaking time which meant the first time I drove it was in FP1 – they did an amazing job. But with any new race car, you get problems with these normally resolved in a test session. This was a baptism of fire in the public spotlight but there was no choice.
“The car had hybrid deployment issues in qualifying and the opening two races. In Race 1, the team put me on slicks on the grid even though the track was wet and damp in places, which meant I had no heat in the rear tyres for the opening laps. It was a handful but as a dry line appeared late in the race, I managed to set some very competitive times and that bodes well for the future.
“Race 2 was again with no hybrid but no turbo either due to a boost pipe splitting during my practice starts, just a bit of bad luck. I then unfortunately made a poor start in Race 3 and also ran wide on the slippery track causing the car to overheat having blocked the radiators requiring a pit-stop to clear the ducts.
“Overall I cannot thank my crew and the team’s management enough for the faith they’ve shown in me and this is a long-term project in BTCC. I’ve now racked up a couple of hours running in the car and I’m looking forward to the next three races at Thruxton which will hopefully be more ‘normal’ and will allow me to get to grips with the Cupra Leon.”