The 17-year-old rookie soaked up intense pressure from, of all people, triple Champion Paul Rivett to achieve his maiden top-three result in only his seventh race in the championship at Oulton Park last Sunday.
And he admitted: “We all know how hot it was outside, so imagine the heat inside the cars – having Rivett there definitely made me sweat even more. He’s the last person you want to see in your mirrors.
“But there was nothing untoward, although we did have very slight contact entering Cascades on the opening lap. It was just part of what can happen when the racing is that close, but it was a real heart in mouth moment. I was pretty crossed up controlling it with two wheels on the grass.
“From then on, though, I knew so long as I got a better exit than him out of Cascades each time, got it slowed right down for the hairpin and got on the power out of there nicely he was going to find it hard to pass.
“I saw later he’d got a five-second penalty and there was a temptation to let him past knowing I would still get third but for my confidence going to Croft – for my own sake – I wanted to show everyone I could beat him fair and square. The sense of achievement and then the feeling on the podium… I had a lot of podiums in Ginetta Juniors but this one was quite special, because it’s the first at such a senior level.”
Team Pyro driver Proctor becomes the fourth new face to have appeared on the UK Clio Cup podium in just three race events – testament to the championship’s current levels of competitiveness and its ability to attract the very best in young talent.
And the timing couldn’t have been better for next up is Proctor’s home event at Croft in North Yorkshire (Sat 18/Sun 19 June) where he says he will apply the same thinking that paid dividends at Oulton
The Driffield racer, backed by top British Touring Car team BMR’s young driver programme, will go there having just completed his final year exams at Scarborough College…
Proctor added: “My father (ex-touring car racer Mark) and I realised perhaps we’d been putting too much pressure on ourselves at the first three events so took a step back and thought ‘why did we ever go racing in the first place – to enjoy ourselves!’ So I took the conscious decision to try to relax more at Oulton and re-set my goals and that approach seems to have made an immediate difference. Dad has been a big help there.
“I’ve always known my race craft is good so I’m focusing more on my qualifying now and again at Oulton we were able to put it in the front row of the grid for both races. That set me up very nicely for the two races which ended with a fourth and then a third. The adrenaline is still pumping…”
“I’m looking forward to Croft for obvious reasons but also, like Oulton, it’s a real driver’s circuit and it’s very rewarding when you cross the line knowing you’ve pieced together a good lap there. I'm sure we can have a good event again at Croft. I'm feeling confident going into the event."