Welcome back to another instalment of my 2012 Season Review!
We pick up from Ordos, Inner Mongolia, once more. The dusty venue, where the track is shaped on the outline of a horse (it’s true!) would hold Round 3 of the Championship where we came away with another win (by 8 seconds this time) but also a couple of 6th places after I burnt out my clutch in race one! We were still on target with our goal to win the championship being just a few points behind so celebrated the win in style once more in the amazing city that is Ordos. It is quite a bizarre place in that there is the most amazing infrastructure and architecture, but only with about 6 people and a dog living there!
The month between rounds involved some sleepless nights where I felt the clutch give way (doh!) but also some productive partnership work whereby a UK based friend of mine, who I actually met at the Dan Wheldon Charity Kart Race in 2011, expressed in an interest in our racing program that year – and lo and behold ‘Choctails’ became a partner for this season and ensured that the championship challenge would continue in Guangdong, southern China, in a few weeks. Choctails are homemade British chocolates combined with your favourite cocktails – and trust me, they are delicious! Although I try not to eat them all…! Choctails are now incorporated into my Gofundme.com/becomeapartner page whereby the more you sponsor the more lovely chocolates you shall receive!
We head to Guangdong on a train from Hong Kong to Foshan, before taking a taxi onwards. It was quite a journey on the slow train there, and you see some amazing sights of farmers, paddy fields, and factories. The Guangdong circuit is relatively straight forward in that you have 5 corner, mostly hairpins, and 2 long straights. We immediately were very confident in testing and were 0.5s up on our rivals! Unfortunately, some of the best laid plans fail and we were taken out of the lead in 2/3 races and crashed into in the other one. It was a weekend we should have come away with maximum points but instead came away with a quarter of what we deserved! It was completely gutting to be so quick but not even come away with a podium. I still had to make a race weekend video out of it, so decided to use Britney Spears’ ‘Hit me baby one more time’ – I think it got a few laughs! Regardless of this we were still only 20 points off the Championship lead and believed we could do the job in the final two rounds in Sepang, Malaysia.
Before then, however, we had the Singapore Grand Prix Exclusive Hospitality with Wooloomooloo which I was to attend. This was one of my favourite out of car memories of the 2012 season because my sponsors Choctails had come out to promote their chocolates, and Sideways Driving Club had run a competition to win 2 passes to the Grand Prix fully paid for, and the winners, Kris and Tess, thoroughly enjoyed it! I had Friday walkabout passes and to stand about 2 metres away from a Formula One car in Singapore… Wow! You can literally feel the gearbox selecting another cog through the ground – I’m not kidding. The sight is immense, but the sound is just unbelievable too. As we watched the cars fight for position on lap one it was something to behold – if you ever get the chance to go to Singapore for the GP – I would highly recommend you take it! At the end of the Grand Prix we still had some Choctails left over and plenty of Dan Wells Racing / Choctails leaflets so we decided to go down to the exit of gate 7 and do a bit of promotional work! We had the biggest of crowds, and everyone loved the Singapore Sling Choctails, and I was trying to sign as many leaflets as I could! It was one of those moments that I know when I do race in Singapore, I can think back to standing on the exit of gate 7 shouting ‘British racing driver British Chocolates!’
Onto the racing now for the final two rounds of the Formula Pilota China Series. They were to be held at Sepang, a circuit which we had not seen until the Thursday, while our competition had tested there about 5 days a month for the last 2 years, in both F3 and Pilota! Bear in mind in 2012, we did 2 days of testing, both in Zhuhai, in early April pre-season… We went out for the first session and after being the quickest car in Guangdong, we went to being 2.4s off the pace! It was quite a challenge, but it was testament to the team we got the gap down to within 3 tenths by the end of the weekend. We had qualified a disappointing 5/5/6 – but my normal fantastic starts and absolute dogged determination ensured we came away with 3 podiums and as 2nd highest point scorer that weekend. We now trailed our competition, Antonio Giovinazzi, in the championship, but still had an outside chance for the final round.
I flew into KL on the Wednesday (having raised sponsorship for my flight, hotel and race insurance) but without the knowledge as to whether I would be racing that weekend. Thankfully I got the phone call from my manager David Madgwick that it was to go ahead – and I can’t explain to you the feeling I got in that moment! Typical Malaysia weather played havoc over the weekend but we managed to come away with a 2nd place to secure Vice Champion status in the 2012 Formula Pilota Series with KCMG.
I have so many people to thank for 2012 – I have a list of 188 people on my laptop that helped in one form or another, but without doubt without all of you who sponsored me on my Gofundme page I would not even have made it to Round One, and I have to say a huge thanks to my manager David Madgwick and BAM Motorsport Promotions, Paul Ip and the whole team at KC Motorgroup and my primary sponsor VISA Global Logistics. Also, I have to say a big thanks to HK based events agency Nearly Friday who ensured I was able to make it to each round! I won’t say any more names as it will get boring but you know who you are!
After the last race, it was nice to be able to go out into Kuala Lumpur, see the Twin Towers, some amazing sights and taste some great Asian cuisine. No matter how hard this is, or how many sacrifices I make, I have to remember one thing – I am living my dream and am the luckiest guy on the planet. Sometimes I have to pinch myself… But I love everything I do, the racing, the fitness, the business, but I suppose with something so all-encompassing it would be difficult to do without a deep passion for it! It was nice to be able to fly back to the UK for Christmas. I spent time with my family, met some great new friends, had some great nights out too of course (something I’ve not really done previously) and I’m full refreshed, recharged and ready to go again!
Our next challenge is Japanese F3 in 2013, again with the great support from KCMG. Please keep following me on twitter @danwellsracing, like me on www.facebook.com/danwellsracinguk and if you would like to be kept up to date with press releases then please send an email to [email protected] and I will put you on the list!
Until the next time