Where better to start than Croft.
Testing was always going to be difficult as I hadn’t driven a car in anger for about 8 months. I ended the first session in 9th place, 2.310 seconds of the fastest with a lap time of 1:26.333. Our tires were quite old which explained why we were a little further away from the front than we wanted to be. I felt a lot happier at the end of the session than I did at the start and was getting back to where I was 8 months ago.
The second session went better with some slightly fresher tires. I managed a lap time of 1:25.594 and shaved my time from the front to 1.570 seconds. What was more encouraging was that the majority of cars in front had a new set of tires at some point which was giving them extra time and also I was within 1 tenth of a second of being inside the top 6.
With a new set of tires the team were confident we could be in the top 4 in qualifying with some adjustments. I also knew that I needed to find some time in myself and also that I needed to be able to go a second or so faster with the new tires. It’s all well and good saying that new tires give you a second but you also have to drive it a second a lap quicker.
Qualifying was a tricky session, the clouds loomed over and rain was imminent. Knowing that I would possibly only have two laps at the start of the session where the track and tires were at their optimum I pushed hard from the beginning and was in 5th when a red flag came out. Whilst the clear up process went on it started to rain meaning the track would only get slower, also meaning I would start 5th for the race later that day. A fantastic achievement considering the time I had out of the race seat. My lap time was a 1:24.832, just 0.976 off the fastest time of the session and only three tenths behind 2nd. What caught me out was not having the experience on new tires, you can push so much harder and it’s about knowing that. I followed Carl (Breeze) on my fastest lap and he pulled away mid-corner at Tower and subsequently round the back of the track. Had I known how hard I could push I was confident I could have been lining up on the front two rows.
Then for the first race, I messed the start up, I let the clutch out too quickly and reduced my engine revs nearly stalling the engine. I lost 4 places on the run into the first corner. I fought my way back through the pack into 6th on the finishing laps. As I did the battle for the final podium spot erupted and I caught Andrew Watson after he had a moment. I had a last lap lunge which moved me up to 5th momentarily, only for the car behind to capitalise and make up two places. This meant I finished 6th, also my starting position for the first televised race on Sunday.
Learning from my start the day before I only lost one place, I was involved in a fight for 5th – 8th place. After a race long scrap with Andrew Watson and Pepe Massot we caught Matt Nichol Jones who was struggling with tires massively.
I passed Pepe round the outside at Tower, then Andrew up the inside on the exit to Tower and around the outside at the Stewart Esses. Number 6 was then picked from the hat so I was to start 3rd on the grid for the final race.
I got my best start of the weekend and held my position into turn one; the rain had started just a little making the track damp. I lost the back end of the car into turn two and ran wide allowing Carl and Tom Ingram. I then got overtaken by a car that took a short cut! After a couple of laps I found myself in fourth position battling with the car in Carl Boardley. I was faster but couldn’t overtake, then he slowed and retired from the race due to a mechanical issue leaving me with 3rd position. I then put in some really fast laps to pull a gap over the battle behind. In that time I set the 3rd fastest lap of the race, further showing the advances I had made during the weekend. As the tires started to wear off at the end of the race I had a comfortable gap in front and behind.
Going onto the penultimate lap the heavens opened with the thunder storm we expected 2 hours before my race started. By half way through the lap I had lost all visibility and the track had turned into ‘a lake’. The red flag was brought out and the race stopped meaning I had taken a podium and 3rd place.
I also want to dedicate the podium to Ben Gautrey, I had support from his foundation for the weekend who helped me find the budget to race!
I also want to thank everyone at Century Motorsport for doing everything they could to get me the podium, the car worked well all weekend. Also a massive thanks to everyone who bought one of the t-shirts and came to my garage tour!
Below is a preview and music video we produced over the weekend.
On Monday morning at 8am I set off to Lincoln to drive to Denmark with one of my best friends, it was a trip we planned for a while and was a welcome relaxing break. I spent all the journey on Monday morning on my phone replying to tweets and facebook messages. I also had an interview with BBC Tees!
We took my friends dogs over to a place called ‘Broger’ in Denmark – it’s as far into Denmark as you can go without being in Sweden. After two days we drove back (through Germany J). I got back on the Saturday just before work.
On the following Monday night I set off (in a plane this time) to Javea in Spain to meet the rest of my team for the LeMans 24hour Kart race. They were Tom Langford, Jake Rattenbury, Kent Cross, Baz Scott, Becks Boardman and Niall Shepherd our mechanic. After two days relaxing in Spain with Beck’s parents we travelled back across Spain and France to LeMans. (its a long way)
We then met Anton Spires and his granddad Kieth in LeMans, he was our final driver.
For starters, if you haven’t been and you’re a motorsport fan (you must be, your reading this) then you need to go. The sounds on the nights are amazing. There is always a bike or car going flat chat down the Mulsanne straight which you can hear from the Kart Track Campsite!
I was going to race in a 24 hour kart race on the ‘Curcuite de Alain Prost’, we were racing in the hire kart class, essentially the slowest class in the race.
We had a good day of testing on the Friday, I had about 25 minutes in the Kart and got to within 8 tenths of my pace from last year. The track was definitely slower due to the air temperature being that bit warmer. We were one of the quickest teams in practice so all was looking good.
I qualified our team in 2nd on the grid for the start of the race and took on the first stint. I got a good start, better than I had done in the Ginetta, and took the lead at turn one. I then gradually pulled away until about half an hour into my stint when I got caught up with some karts in the club class.
I got punted off at the next corner and fell back to 6th. I lost about 5 seconds but managed to pull it back working with the kart in 3rd place. At the end of my stint I pitted in the lead, we came back out in 3rd place. In between my first and second stint we fell back down the order due to a fuel problem. Our Kart would not run for as long as the other teams for some reason, we stopped out on track twice with an empty tank which cost us a lot of time. It wasn’t anyone’s fault, just one of those things with endurance racing!
We kept on climbing and falling back down the leader board eventually finishing 8th in class and around 33rd overall. We were each happy with our individual performances and had it not been for the fuel issue we would have challenged right at the very front!
A big thanks to Race Drivers Inc for organising the LeMans trip for me and to David Mason London for sponsoring me to compete in the event!
Thanks for reading the blog, for buying t-shirts and watching the videos. Hopefully I’ll have some more exciting news soon… until then,