Thruxton was a circuit I had never raced at before, so the team gave me a two day test in the old car just after Christmas. I came into the weekend open minded about the situation, knowing that I had a lot to learn. There's knowing where the track goes but there's really knowing the characteristics of the circuit, which takes time and experience.
Testing actually went better than I expected. I was in the top five for most of the session and ended up seventh towards the end, so I couldn’t complain really. Knowing that I still had much to learn, I studied my fellow team-mates data to try to take as much information into qualifying as possible.
As mentioned in my previous blogs, I was eager to get this qualifying session nailed! I got myself into a certain state of mind where I was ready to put that one flying lap in. I set off behind Stephen Jelley, which was good knowing he had great experience. I brought my tyres up to temperature and knew this was the lap.
I followed him through and things went well in the early part of the lap – as I came onto the back straight just behind him, I could tell I had gained on him, which was great! This is where the good news ends unfortunately as although I was to eager to catch him on the last corner, I messed up my braking zone and locked my wheels up into the final chicane. It goes without saying that I was extremely disappointed with myself.
My heart sank when I found out I was tenth on the grid, knowing that I could have done much better. My Engineer and I studied the data – we found out I was on for fourth prior to the last corner, which would have been my best qualifying yet. I walked away disappointed knowing that I still haven’t sorted out a qualifying session yet this season.
I was obviously not in a good mood ahead of race one but I managed to get a decent start anyway. Everyone seemed to huddle up ahead of me unfortunately and there was nowhere to go in terms of trying to make up any places. We soon spread out through the race and I was lying behind Porsche scholarship driver Ben Hetherington. I managed to put my car up the inside of him on one occasion, although he held his line and the position. I had very bad understeer as the race progressed so I had to settle for tenth at the finish.
I got an even better start in race two and was able to get by my team-mate Sam Tordoff. I was lying in ninth but was chasing down Michael Caine, who I knew would be difficult to pass. That chance went later on when I was blocked by a backmarker while Caine pulled clear. There was a spinner in the race ahead of me, which moved me up to eighth at the chequered flag.
All in all I wasn’t happy with the weekend. I took a step back and had a look at the competition and my lack of experience at Thruxton however, and in the end I brought some points home and I'm now 6th in the championship.
Hopefully Oulton Park will be different as I plan to put the car further up the grid and hopefully finish with my first Porsche podium!
Thanks for the support and remember to visit my website at www.richardplant.co.uk or tweet me @plantyporsche.