Well, after an eventful Oulton Park and the first 3 rounds of the Ginetta GT5 Challenge I was looking for the complete opposite for the next three races at Rockingham.
Having shaken the car down for the first time on a drizzly March test day and raced there in 2010 in my first ever car race I haven’t really driven Rockingham at all! However it is a track I enjoy as apart from the banking which is a unique and awesome element to the track you don’t get much time to relax around the twisty infield with lots of places to dive up the inside of someone.
Myself and the NDS SV21 team started the meeting Saturday with a bit of uncertainty we had a pretty oversteery car at the twisty Rockingham and made some setup changes which were a bit of a gamble but by the end of the day we were happy with the balance of the car going into the additional free practice session and Qualifying on the Sunday.
Sunday confirmed that we were on the ball by a brace of 3rd positions in free practice and for both of the first 2 races. A few tenths behind P2 but Will Burns with new tires had the car completely hooked up and was streaks ahead of the rest. The battle it seemed would be for who came 2nd!
The first race started well, the front 4 all got a very even jump and all were extremely even going into the first corner demonstrating how even the Ginetta GT5 cars have been prepared! But starting on the inside line meant I was able to sneak up the inside of 2nd place Bailey and go with Burns over the first few laps to pull a gap. It was an uneventful race from then on as I controlled the gap to the cars behind to bring the car home for my first Ginetta podium in 2nd, I was very pleased to finally reward the team with some silverware are not driving well at Oulton!
Having stayed with Burns over the first few laps it gave me an opportunity to watch my video back to try and see how he was gaining so much time over the rest of the field. Having confirmed I was quicker in the midfield my time was being lost on the exit of the last chicane all the way to the first hairpin. We picked things out to try in the warm up Monday morning.
It’s fair to say Monday mornings warm up didn’t go to plan… back on older tires I took a few laps to warm them up, then exiting the final chicane going onto my first flyer I dropped in luckily just managing to stop before rear ending the wall. So took the next lap easier out of there, then finishing the lap trying what we observed the night before I slid out too wide and hit the concrete wall with the rear right wheel damaging the wishbones and hub. Not ideal. If I had completed my first flying lap I would have been right with the fast guys who set their laps later on in the session. So I wasn’t too worried however was disappointed to have damaged the car. Lucky for me I have the best, hardest working mechanics in the paddock; Steve, Jack and Patrick quickly assessed the situation and worked brilliantly to get the car repaired with time to spare for the 2nd race starting 3rd. Massive thanks to them!
Race 2 of the weekend started well as this time I got a great start and went to the outside of the first corner and slotted in 2nd again behind Burns. Burns, Myself and Basey-Fisher broke away from the field behind over the first 3 laps with Basey-Fisher just starting to put me under pressure for 2nd when on lap 3 my brake pedal went long on the stop into the first hairpin which made me think I need to tell Steve when I finish the race, however next lap the same again but much earlier meaning I couldn’t stop the car, luckily I took to the oval, did a quick U turn and dropped to 5th when returning to the track. I knew now that it would be a survival issue. So I nursed the car back as well as I could to finish 5th on the road, but 8th on the amended results as I was 1 of 5 to get a jumpstart penalty and an exceeding track limits penalty. It couldn’t have got much worse but I finished in the points!
Race 3 I was pretty fired up after the disappointments of the day so far and wanted to pull off a decent result from P8… and I believe I did! After getting a great start off the lights making up 2 positions, I box boxed in on the way into turn 1. Being on the inside I made up 1 more position then on the exit I was side by side with Bailey and managed to undercut him on the exit of Yentwood up the hill and then lunged Richards into Kirby later that lap. A great start straight into P3!
After the first lap battling, this time I had been gapped, so a fight back onto the rear end of Davenport was on the cards. I knew he had lacked a bit of pace over the weekend so I was confident of catching him. I passed him again on the cut back out of Yentwood and controlled the gap to the flag, a great result to end the weekend on and I firmly believe the momentum is with us now as we head into the short breaks in-between each race up until August!
We have maintained the gap to the front runners in the championship, it was a shame not to have got a good result in the 2nd race to close the gap but we were by far the fastest after Burns with his new tires, which is really positive and I’m feeling confident going to the Silverstone GP circuit, even though it’s a circuit I’ve never raced!
Again a massive thanks to SV21, NDS (Nationwide Driver Supply), Paul, Piers, Steve, Jack, Patrick and my Dad for their hard work and support and everyone who came to support me at Rockingham.
Since Rockingham it has been work work work, Mclaren is keeping me busy as we have lots of work to do, along with my University reports for my placement year, I’ve also managed to fit in a day’s instructing at Palmersport (all helps to pay for the damage I did!), as well as all my preparation for Silverstone as I am still learning a lot about my driving and myself as I aim to become a Pro Driver!
Looking forward to having a break and going racing ;).
If you’re at Silverstone come and say hello!
Goodbye for now!