Since my last blog I've been all over the place racing which has been exciting.
My last Formula Renault weekend really was a mixed weekend for me, I qualified 3rd and 4th for both of the races which I was very disappointed about this is because I knew I had the pace for Pole but just didn't hook a lap together which was a shame, Croft is a tight and twisty circuit so when I was in Traffic in this session it wasn't easy to get a lap in in a 20 minute session. In the first race I got a great start going for the lead into the first corner when I got a huge hit from behind by my team mate Kieran Vernon into the middle of the oncoming pack and Josh Webster had nowhere to go but hit me, top three in the championship were all out at the first corner. The Fortec team worked hard and did a great job to get us both out for race two as it was a race against time and the cars were badly damaged!
In race two I got a good start and overtook James Thorp off the line and managed to pull away from Kieran Vernon in 4th, I made a move on my team mate Josh Webster for 2nd place but it didn't come off. It was a good race for us and to have a 100 percent podium finish record in every meeting so far can only be a good thing. After Croft it was straight off to Belgium for the Spa 24 Hours where I was to be racing with Faster Racing in a BMW Z4 GT3 car, joining Xavier Maasen, and the two leading drivers in FIA GT3. The atmosphere at the track was amazing the whole week and to be racing against ex Formula One drivers and be part of the event was a great experience for me. The first time I drove the car was in Qualifying in the wet which was kind of being chucked in at the deep end, but it all went well and it didn't take me long to get used to the car and all used to the handling and driver aids the car has for the 24 Hours. Xavier Maasen qualified the car late in the evening after my qualifying laps we nominated him to take the two new sets of tyres to set the time when the track dried, which was late so it was a pole shoot out at 11pm! Unfortunately he hit the astroturf out of La Source and hit the wall so we had to start way back on the grid but it's a 24 Hour race and the car wasn't badly damaged so we were looking forward to the start of the race.
In the morning we had the driver's autograph session, which was pretty hectic! Loads of people turned up and it was non-stop for over an hour but great to meet them all. We then discussed the team strategy to the race and it was decided that I was the 4th driver to drive as I was one of the quickest at night. Xavier started the race and got the car up to 15th by the end of his stint which was a fantastic effort, when I got in the car we were still in 15th position and my double stint at night got us up to 9th overall and 2nd in class. It really is hard out there to not make a mistake, but my pace was really strong and the traffic wasn't too bad to work through. A strange but amazing sight was at 12am when I was driving out of Eau Rouge to just see fireworks everywhere, I felt like a little kid again staring at fireworks but I quickly had to stop looking at them as I was braking from 175mph for a right hander, it was impossible to see for the next corner due to the smoke everywhere! After my stint I was able to rest for an hour or so and eat something and have a massage and prepare with my trainer Stewart Wild for the next stint, I hadn't had any sleep but the team wanted me straight back out there to keep up the strong pace at night. I was due to do another double stint; I was feeling in great condition after all of the training I did with my trainer at Formula Fitness before the event.
The next stint at 3am to 5am I was really pushing harder as we were on for a close battle with two cars for the Pro Am lead which included a fight with the Mercedes with Olivier Panis which was great.
I got the car up to 7th overall and still 2nd in class on the same lap as the leader. I was pushing hard on every lap just to keep up the pace as we were really reeling in the leader and it was going to be close to the flag! There were a lot of slower cars spinning on the track through the night which made it tricky, when they kick gravel onto the circuit and carry it around the circuit. Turning into Blanchemont at around 150mph with a tiny lift and coming out sideways was interesting for sure. After my stint it was time to hand the car over again, and get some sleep which I didn't really do because I was too focused on how we were getting on. At 12pm with 4 hours to go, disaster struck something broke on the rear suspension spearing my team mate Harrie Kolen into the wall at the bus stop, we were out. I don't think I have ever felt that bad, crying my eyes out for a fair few hours, just to have something taken away from me so fast was hard to take and I'm sure my Grandfather would have been watching! I had great support from everyone at home and it was great to see everyone saw the job I did for the team, and my father was there to support me which is always special.
My father gave me good news on the way home to make the journey home a little easier, that I was to drive for Gulf Lamborghini in the Dubai 24 Hours due to my strong performance at Spa. Last week I tested the car in Magny Cours with Stuart Hall and Roald Goathe, where I showed great speed in the day and night matching Stuart's pace, we did great setup work for the 24 hours and worked well as a team. More testing is scheduled for next month when we will go to Spain for a few days and test more before the team head to Dubai for the race in January.
Next up for me is now shifting my focus to the Formula Renault BARC Championship, I currently sit 3rd in the standing on drop scores and I am still well in contention to win the title, so now it's a big push to win my first title and get also my first wins of the season. This weekend we are racing at Thruxton a circuit I know like the back of my hand!
I will do another blog after Thruxton!