So … it’s been a while since I’ve written one of these… so be prepared for an essay!
Last time I caught up was after a disappointing Snetterton, and a lot has happened since then both on and off track!
Firstly, we go north of the border to Knockhill in Scotland. I’d heard a lot about the circuit but it was going to be my first visit to the circuit, and what a place! It quickly became my favourite track, its short nature made every corner crucial, using all the kerbs and the elevation changes made it great to drive!
We were keen to have cured the engine dramas that we had at Snetterton and bounce back to the results we had predicted for the second half of the season.
Practice went really well! With no new tyres, we ran in the top four, very close to the pace. It was great to have Scot Rory Bryant onboard with the SV Racing team, who I could coach up to speed with the car and he could do the same to me with the track.
Qualifying didn’t go to plan as a small set up issue caused me to lose confidence and not get the best from the tyres. This meant we lined up sixth, out of position in our opinion, and with Knockhill being a tricky track to pass on we started the weekend on the back foot.
The first race wasn’t going well until the final lap, threatening rain showers sprinkled the track, and on the slick tyres meant we went skating. A safety car broke up the race as the rain continued to fall and with twenty seconds left on the clock, the race was green flagged.
I managed to get the cut back on Jamie Orton through McIntyres and then lunged Watson into Clarke to get up to 4th. One more lap and I would have been on the podium, but it was a good start to recovering the weekend!
So starting the second race I got a great start to jump Will Burns into the first corner into third. I was pulling a comfortable gap to fourth place but into McIntyres I locked the rears on the way in and began to spin.
I kept my foot in and managed to spin the car 360 degrees to only lose five seconds from a potential race ending moment. It was hugely disappointing to have lost a podium but it could have been much worse. I managed to bring the car home fifth which kept me in the mix for the reverse grid draw.
Starting P2 I held position off the line and was all over the rear of pole sitter Davenport looking for a gap. However at the end of the second lap I was hit and turned around by Watson at the hairpin putting me right to the back. Less than ideal.
I had to spin the car around and crack on to catch the field again, I managed to pass six cars on my recovery to sixth position, with the fastest lap, and ended up only four seconds off the lead which shows what could have been. Luckily the officials penalised correctly but it didn’t get the points back for a potential win. So it was a weekend of could have beens!
In the short amount of time in-between Knockhill and Rockingham I managed to get to the Moto GP at Silverstone with my sponsors which was a great day for everyone. The BRDC clubhouse offered great views of the racing which really made the day. Marquez again provided a master class with his overtake on Lorenzo and from then on game over for everyone else.
So moving to Rockingham, another circuit that I go well at and was looking to get back on form with. The weekend started well with good minimum running in practice to save our new test tyres for Silverstone too. But we were confident the car was dialled for quail. I managed to put a good time in to go second with a minimum amount of laps on the tyres which would be crucial come the races on the abrasive surface of Rockingham.
Race one was what we had been looking forward to. A fairly straightforward race bringing the car back on the podium. I had a chance at the win after pressuring Robertson into a couple of mistakes but couldn’t capitalize on them. It was great to be back on the podium after a bit of a drought and a great way to thank the team for their hard work and efforts.
I think I looked after the tyres well meaning I was in a good place for race two! I made an error off the line meaning I dropped to fourth before the first corner. My pace was very similar to Carl Breeze in third meaning it would be very hard to pass. However as the different tyre strategies played out, I ended up with my elbows out trying to defend from Tom Oliphant and Jamie Orton. I managed to hang onto fifth but with the mistake off the line, it should have had a double podium.
In-between Rockingham and Silverstone I took part in the annual BRDC Clayshoot. As part of my Rising Star status I thought it would be a great networking opportunity as well as a fun day out. I’ve been shooting once before so was hoping to improve.
The day took place at the fantastic EJ Churchill Shooting ground near High Wycombe. I was on a team with my guest and British GT race winner Phil Keen and Blancpain Endurance Series racer Oli Bryant. They were a great laugh and were sharp shooters too which helped keep the team average up as I was no good! A great day was had and a good amount of money was raised for Cancer Research UK! I’ll be back next year to beat my score!
So after knocking on the door of a great result for a few weekends we came to Silverstone, the home of British Motorsport and the BRDC. It would be my first opportunity to race in front of the BRDC as a member which I was hugely proud of.
The Friday didn’t go to plan at all. We recorded eighth in FP1 and FP2 which left us quite worried. We hadn’t run tyres as we can’t afford them and had to do the best we could and being almost 0.8s off the pace we didn’t think there was that time in tyres, however looking at others on older tyres we were bang on the pace.
Going into qualifying I managed to hook up a mega first sector up to go on pole by two tenths at the time. I decided that I wasn’t going to get close to that time again so pitted and we had to play the waiting game. We saw Robertson pitted due to a black flag for constantly exceeding track limits so we knew it was more secure, however I had to watch with nerves as Jamie Orton got very close however my lap was enough to secure my first pole of the year!
I felt the added pressure of starting on pole but managed to hold my lead into the first corner. There was a safety car scrambled at the end of the first lap meaning I would have to do my first ever safety car restart from the front!
Therefore I didn’t really have a plan to go by when the safety car lights went out… As I didn’t have a plan of when to go, Andrew Watson behind me had no chance of predicting me and I made a great restart meaning I didn’t have to defend and at the end of the race could save the tyres by the end of the race and bring it home for my fourth win of the season!
It was similar affair in the second race as I led off from pole, before the safety car was deployed once again. I made another great restart, breaking the tow and I didn’t need to defend. It was very cat and mouse between me and Andrew as I was able to pull a gap in the first sector where Watson was able to tow back up to me in the final sector meaning I could never relax or shake him off.
With two fastest laps in both races it was a clean sweep of points and we were back! The great results at Silverstone allowed us to jump back to third in the championship and close the gap to second. It’s still a long shot, and we can only do what we can but nothing is over until the final race!
Before Brands though, I headed to Buckmore Park this week for the Henry Surtees Challenge. For the first time in my career I headed into an event with a title to defend! It is an extremely competitive event which attracts a host of drivers from all over British Motorsport, which meant it wasn’t going to be easy to defend!
The format of the day saw two practice sessions, qualifying, pre final and final. The day started well with a first and second in the FP sessions in the wet which would set me well up for qualifying. On a drying track I knew it would be all about the final lap so I set myself up for a good tow on the lap to make sure it counted, however this didn’t quite match out as I caught the backmarker too quickly and was slowed on my final lap meaning I qualified fourth in group, and tenth overall! Work was to be done and I left myself right in the danger zone for the short races!
After spinning in front of the pack in the first start I made an ok start second time round. It was very hectic meaning if you were on the outside for any corners you weren’t getting back in the train. I really had to fight to get back in as I got forced out through the second hairpin. I had dropped to roughly 14th so quickly made my way through the pack including works BMW driver Alex Simms, Mclaren Autosport BRDC Award winner Matt Parry and sought after catching RSF star Oli Rowland.
After all the battling had sorted itself out, I hadn’t quite managed to get in the right place at the right time which was frustrating and hindered my progress but I bought the kart home sixth which set me well up for the main final.
I made another ok start before being loaded into hairpin two! This dropped me down to tenth-ish meaning I had it all to do again. I managed to get a break to track down FFord racer Jack Barlow and pass him for seventh, from then on it was tough as without sounding like making an excuse, the kart I had wasn’t the quickest down the straight meaning I got the best I could from the kart and even with a lunge on the last lap for sixth couldn’t make it any higher. I fully accept that it’s the luck of the draw when you’re hire karting and Club100 maintain the best hire kart fleet in the country so it wasn’t going to be any closer than it was!
I thoroughly enjoyed the event and the racing was seriously close! It was good to go back to my karting roots and lunge some people! I was even fortunate enough to pick up the best placed over 80kg driver award (min driver weight limit was 75kg, so that’s why I didn’t win ;)) and also a training session with IZone which I will put to good use when I know what I’m doing next year! Huge thanks to the HSF Foundation for a fantastic, day, event and prize! I will be back!
I’m now really looking forward to Brands GP in the G55 with the aero and power. Make sure to come and say hi if you’re at the finale and grab a signed poster at the SV Racing awning!
Thanks for reading,
David “finishing with a bang” Pittard #30