JADE EDWARDS became the first woman on the British Touring Car Championship grid in 13 years at the weekend, helping Bidford’s Power Maxed Racing come away from the latest rounds at Silverstone with plenty of positives.
The lead up to the weekend saw what can only be described as a media storm surrounding the 30-year-old, who had made a splash as the first female racer to contest the championship since 2007.
Her first time in the car would be the Thursday immediately preceding the weekend at Donington Park.
With the car heading straight to Silverstone for the racing, Edwards was unable to push too hard at the test as it would be safer not to risk damage, but she was able to complete a good number of laps and bank important seat time.
Come Saturday, free practice one and two were to be a vital part of Edwards learning the nuances of the race-winning Astra on Silverstone’s short and fast National layout.
With the intention across the weekend purely to bring the car home in every race, the team were all keen to manage expectations, and with 45kg of new driver ballast on board throughout the day, Power Maxed Racing were expecting to be towards the back of the times.
With a lap of the layout coming in at under a minute, Edwards found herself just over a second off the front runners’s pace by the close of both sessions, which was a huge positive considering her lack of BTCC experience.
Qualifying saw Edwards unable to quite pull together a representative lap, still carrying full new driver ballast, meaning she would start race one from P26.
Race one saw her make a good start, making up ground throughout the race, and by lap 22 she had made her way up to P20, despite carrying the additional weight mandated by TOCA, before an incident with the Ford Focus of Andy Neate pushed her wide, dropping her down to P23 for the close.
Race two would be her first experience of the car without the hindrance of new driver ballast, giving her the perfect opportunity to fight her way through the pack.
Unfortunately, an error on the start line meant her chances would be limited, but despite this she put in a strong performance, with her times matching those of the driver in P10-15.
She would go on to pass Neate cleanly in the closing stages, crossing the line P21.
Race three was to be filled with drama, when a serious incident on lap six involving Rory Butcher saw the race red flagged, leading to a restart.
Despite being on cold tyres, Edwards would fight her way up to P18 before another incident with Neate would cause an off track excursion, leading directly to damage to the power steering system, ending her final session after just five laps.
Edwards said: “Overall, it was an amazing weekend. Our aim was to finish all three races and improve lap times each session.
“If it weren’t for power steering issues in race three, through no fault of our own, we would have easily hit and exceeded every target.
“PMR gave me a great car with a brilliant team around me, and I’m so grateful for the opportunity Adam (Weaver – team principal) and the team gave me.
“The weekend was positive from start to finish, and I sincerely hope this isn’t the end to my BTCC career.”