Proctor was never far off the pace in his opening three UK Clio Cup events at Brands Hatch Indy, Donington Park and Thruxton and some handy points were accrued. The races were not without the odd bump however and at Donington he was involved in a high-profile roll entering the circuit’s notorious Old Hairpin bend which, thanks to one brave goose, attracted widespread coverage on social media!
But at Oulton Park, for rounds seven and eight, everything seemed to click for the young BMR-backed driver with two front row starting positions – one of which led to a first podium result with a third place in race two at the Cheshire circuit. Impressively it was achieved by holding off one of the very best in the business, triple Champion Paul Rivett…
“That turned out to be my best race of the season,” says Proctor. “We had great pace all weekend and holding off Rivett was very satisfying. I could have let him go because I knew he had a time penalty but I wanted to beat him on track for my own enjoyment!”
Significantly it was at Oulton that the 17-year-old (now 18) admitted to a change of mindset – be more relaxed. Another re-think would follow soon after his second podium result at Snetterton where he had to fight hard to deter fast-closing Pyro team-mate Josh Price.
“That was a bitter-sweet result,” admits Yorkshireman Proctor. “I’d qualified well for race one and finished it well. It was nice to celebrate another podium but at the same time I knew for race two I’d be starting back in 12th on the grid after a mistake on my second fastest lap in qualifying.
“Then we went to Rockingham and that was just a frustrating weekend all-round. I didn’t seem to gel with the circuit and from there on my attitude changed – it was all about going for the best result possible. I wasn’t really thinking about the championship any more...”
Proctor underlined his pace again in the season finale on Brands Hatch’s Grand Prix circuit where he came through for a fifth-place result having started from the pit lane.
“My car had been damaged in the accident that caused the red flag on the first lap and the marshals pushed me off the grid into the pit lane for the re-start,” he recalls. “The rate at which we came up on people in that race… I’m pretty sure had I started on the grid as normal then another podium was possible.”
In effect Proctor would spend the season’s second half shadowing his pal Price up the leaderboard. Eighth would be Proctor’s reward and it was very nearly more – in the end he was just eight points shy of Paul Streather who took seventh.
“I’d say my season went well and felt most of the time were regular top six or seven challengers and capable of pushing for top five results or even podiums,” reflects Proctor. “We learnt all the things we needed to learn – front-wheel-drive, qualifying, how a slick racing tyre works.
“Josh and I are good friends and we bounced off each together and moved up together. I enjoyed racing with him a lot – Mike (Bushell) was always slightly ahead due to his experience. But Josh and I were on a similar level.”
STOP PRESS: Proctor has since confirmed he will race for the factory-backed Power Maxed Vauxhall team in 2017’s British Touring Car Championship, joining a long line of ex-UK Clio Cup drivers who have progressed to the BTCC.
Renault Sport’s UK Motorsport Championship Manager Will Fewkes commented: “This is fantastic news for Senna and further underlines the UK Clio Cup’s reputation as the place to be for young drivers looking to be taken seriously by the BTCC teams. Senna certainly enjoyed an eventful season with us in 2016 and also some outstanding results – his performances at Oulton Park will always stand out. We look forward to seeing how he performs in his debut season of the BTCC alongside many other drivers with Renault Sport pasts and wish him all the best.”