Wow! What a weekend sunny Knockhill turned out to be. As soon as I arrived there on the Friday afternoon the sun was out and the forecast was looking good for the weekend which was good because the few times I have raced there were in the dry.
I went around the track on the Friday night with Jason (Plato) on the buggy and we had a close look at the track. We both picked up that the run off mesh beyond the kerbs was breaking up and was very sharp which could cause a puncture. Sometimes you walk around a circuit and nothing has changed and you think this is pointless but I'm glad to have stopped and examined the track closely.
On the Saturday I used Free Practice 1 to familiarise myself with the track. I posted some good times and the Chevrolet Cruze was feeling strong and well dampened over the kerbs, which was unusual as it has been a problem with the car up until now. I and my engineer sat down afterwards with Jamie, my data engineer, and we looked at some laps from last year to see where I could improve.
Qualifying was the biggest surprise of the day. I set a reasonable time on my first set of new tyres but it was half a second off so I thought 'where am I going to find all that time'. I went for another shot at it and I went four tenths quicker and was now in P2. I then went for my third shot and stuck it on pole I couldn't believe I had gone quicker than (Gordon) Shedden who was the favourite heading into qualifying.
On race day it was a bit cloudier but there was still no threat of rain. Race one was a good result to get second place but I was a bit disappointed. Everyone was cheering me when I stepped out of the car which was a great feeling to start the day off.
Before race two I had the autograph session which normally takes 20 minutes. In race two I made a poor start, dropping me down to ninth, which was frustrating. I struggled to make any places up with the success ballast I had on, all the other cars directly in front were carrying no weight. The starts are letting me down at the moment but the team and I are working hard to tailor things to how I like it.
After race two Jason and I went to the hospitality to do a Q&A in front of the guests. Then straight after that we went to the Chevrolet stand to do a Q&A in front of the spectators and fans. It's really hectic at that time of the day and there is just enough time to have a quick plate of pasta for lunch.
I was starting race three from where I finished race two which was ninth. I was a bit unlucky with the reverse grid which didn`t go in our favour. From where I started it was hard to see the lights on the gantry so I had to use the repeater lights which were on the pit wall. I had to twist my head to see them which is tricky when you have to wear a HANS device.
The start was a bit better but I got too much wheel-spin, although I managed to hold my position. I could see by lap 10 (Andrew) Jordan was in third and I knew I had to close the points he would gain. I got past (James) Nash at the hairpin and by this time Jordan had dropped back with (Rob) Collard alongside into the hairpin. I followed Collard through and got in front of Jordan on the next lap. I am now four points off the top 10 so that is my aim for the remainder of the season.
I desperately want to win and do it off pole but we have been a bit unlucky this season. In the meantime I will be at work in the office. It's not long until Donington so I am counting down the days already…
Photo credits: SJK Photography