I turned up at Oulton Park on Saturday morning seeing nothing but rain water everywhere! This wasn't what I was hoping for but it was set in for the long weekend and I had to just push my hardest. Saturday morning also saw a change of partner for me as my usual co-driver had licensing issues and Mike Simpson from Ginetta stepped in to race with me.
I used the free practise sessions to get used to the highly powered, lightweight bodied Ginetta G50 in the wet conditions but as qualifying approached it was time for a set of brand new slick tyres! I'd never driven on the 2012 Avon slick tyres but the more laps I did the quicker I got and the more comfortable I became. The new tyres were really grippy and there was always more I could push but with only a 15 minute session I didn't have a lot of time to find the ultimate limit and I managed 2nd position with Mike to go out next. He also managed 2nd place and was only 19 thousandths off pole. This was a great result and felt we could have a great race day!
Monday again was a wet horrible day and it didn't show any signs of drying up until we were all packing away. I started race 1 and pulled a gap between myself and the Lotus in 3rd place but struggled to keep up with the pace of Jody Fannin who was leading the GT4 category, a safety car was called out a few laps before the end of my stint and Fannin managed to sneak through where I was then stuck in the middle of 20 GT3 cars! This allowed the WFR car to get a substantial gap and once the safety car was off track I dropped to 3rd position just as I was about to pit. Mike jumped in the car and we dropped to 4th position but the gap was fluctuating and stood on the pit wall no one knew what was happening! The Lotus that Mike was chasing was docked 5 seconds after the race but due to an incident with a GT3 car we lost valuable time meaning we couldn't gain 3rd after all, and we also lost a bonnet!
Race 2 was started by Mike and in still the same conditions he spent all his time in 3rd place, when I took over the driving with just over half an hour left until the end of the race I maintained 3rd place. We had a speedy pit stop and although I was catching 2nd he was too far ahead for the pace I was catching him. We finished the race in 3rd place but I felt it was a great achievement even with small grids as over a long race anything can happen in an hour and we did a good job as a pairing. The 2012 Avon wet tyres were a lot different to last years and with no running until the races on the new tyres we did find it hard to find the perfect set up for the car. The champagne tasted good though and let's hope for some more podium results with the usual pairing of me and Dominic for the rest of the season as well as more competitors in the GT4 class.
I'd like to say a big thanks to Mike for driving with me and getting us on the podium in my first GT weekend & Century Motorsport for working extra hard as usual. Also a thanks to my sponsors CapMedia, Supagard, Geometric Manufacturing and FadalCNC for enabling me to have done the testing pre-season to make sure I was competitive and all the guys that supported me throughout the weekend.
My next race weekend is at the world famous Nurburgring in Germany between 17th and 19th May where we are the sole support race of the 24Hr race that weekend. In the next month I'll be working on simulators (and the Playstation) trying to get to grips with the track so I won't be at too much of a disadvantage going into the race weekend having never driven it before.