This time last year Max Hart was gunning for the TCR title. He started well, but for various reasons, mainly bad luck, it didn’t happen for him.
Undeterred, the Baltinglass man is back this year more determined than ever. He has changed team, car, and pretty much everything else. The car landed late, the announcement only made the week ahead of the race, with the car still away being wrapped. Max had moved to JamSport Racing, bringing his 2021 engineer with him, and sourced a Hyundai I30 N TCR car in Italy. Tis often the way in motorsport, when you are chasing backing right up to the start of the season. Add to this the fact that there had been great interest in the TCR series over the winter, with the grid size pretty much doubled, and some very well known names having thrown their hat in the ring. Max is not easily fazed though and despite his lack of running he managed to qualified his newly reliveried car fourth on the grid and, crucially, first of the Hyundais. In front of a capacity crowd (the TCR series were on the British GT Championship programme), Max rocketed off the second row and almost managed to grab second into the first corner. Third it was though and the body language of the Selco i30 suggested he wasn’t finished just yet. Initially, the lead trio lapped as one but as the Chris Smiley’s Honda began to ease away, Max piled the pressure on the second placed Isaac Smith before finally making it stick on the exit of Lodge. In a move described by commentator Paul O’Neill as “absolute precision”, the Irishman was up to second and keen to chase down the leader. time ran out though, and Max crossed the line second, for his first points haul of the 2022 season.
TCR UK reverse the top ten finishers from Race 1 to make up the Grid for Race 2, meaning Max would start ninth, needing one of his trademark rocket like starts to make up as many places as possible early on. He didn’t disappoint- an absolute flier meaning he exited turn one already up to fifth, clicing by the poleman into Cascades a few seconds later to snatch fourth! Before he could make any more progress, a safety car neutralised the race, two cars having made contact off the grid further back. As soon as they went back racing, Callum Newsham was next to fall to the flying Irishman. A few fast laps saw the Selco.ie machine close down Jessica Hawkins and Jac Constable but as Max was about to mount an attack, the safety car was despatched once again! As the safety car pulled in, Hawkins made a great restart, whilst Max took a brave run round the outside of Constable to just about make it stick on the run to Cascades- elevating himself to second. He immediately set about closing the gap to the W Series driver setting fastest lap in the process, and with a few laps to run, the pair were bumper to bumper. Unfortunately for Max, there were a few corners with waved yellow flags, stopping him from taking a lunch. Added to this, Hawkins was making no mistakes and she hung on for an impressive first TCR win.
Max declared himself happy with his points haul after race two, and crucially, left Oulton Park on Monday evening leading the TCR UK Championship!
Max Hart, Double Podium Finisher & TCR UK Championship Leader: “A great weekend at Oulton Park! Race 1 went very well and I was happy to settle for 2nd place. In Race 2, the reverse top10 grid was a bit crazy- after getting a fantastic start, the race was hit with 2 safety cars and multiple yellow flag zones. I still managed to get myself up to P2 and was happy to gather another chunk of championship points. I’m leaving Oulton Park at championship leader so I definitely can’t complain!”
Max is backed by Selco Hygiene Supplies, Pro-Tray, Kiltorcan Raceway, Carnegie Aggregates, Hyundai Motorsport, JamSport Racing, adapt Paper, Motorsport Ireland, Motorsport.ie, Momentum Capital Projects Ltd and Noel Roddy Racing.
Header Image: TCR UK/Jakob Ebrey Photography