Going to my favourite circuit in the UK was something I couldn’t wait for. I have always loved Croft and always gone well there, but I still never expected to have a weekend like I did!
In practice, I was somewhat nervous to begin with. The timing screens had gone down and my JHR Developments boys thought it would be hilarious to tell me I was ‘P8 –3.08’ which means eighth place, 3.08 seconds off the fastest. They left me with that on my pit board for five minutes and I was thinking, ‘surely I can’t be that far off, I’m pushing as hard as possible!’ It wasn’t until I came into the pits that they informed me I was in fact the quickest by eight tenths! Comedians, I tell you…
Practice did, however, show that we had awesome pace to be so far down the road in just FP1, and we maintained that form over the rest of the weekend, claiming pole position in qualifying by six tenths and winning race one by ten seconds. At that point, I knew I had a pretty amazing racecar underneath me – and in its striking new SKYCIG NRG livery, it looked every bit as quick as it went, too!
One thing to note was my starts at the weekend. Not to put too fine a point on it, up until Croft, they had quite frankly been poo, but I have worked extremely hard to improve them and that is now paying off. Progress came through lots of studying and a couple of practice attempts, and the upshot is that they have gone from being a weakness to a strength. I got great starts in all three races.
In race two, I again managed to pull away from the guys behind me whilst still being able to save my tyres, just like in race one. Tyres are such a critical factor over a race weekend that you have to maximise every opportunity to look after them.
For race three, I drew the reverse grid and picked out the worst possible spot, P6 – brilliant! That meant I would be starting back on the third row around a tight circuit like Croft with my main rival Carl Breeze ahead of me… That said, my start very much saved me, and by the end of the opening lap I was already up into second before overtaking Carl for the lead on lap two. Nice!
It wasn’t until I came around to complete lap four or five that I noticed on my pit board a sign saying ‘Breeze Out’, meaning Carl was no longer in the race. That was great for me, but I did feel for Carl because it was a difficult weekend for him and I’ve been in that situation before where you are trying your damndest to limit the points loss and something disastrous happens.
I managed to hold a gap to second-placed Matt Nicoll-Jones until close to the end when the heavens opened with a vengeance. I kid you not, the rain was coming down in stair-rods, and whilst that was huge amounts of fun, it was also a little unnerving when you’re the first person to get to the corners! They red-flagged the race with a couple of laps to go, and I think it was definitely the right decision to take.
That meant our Croft weekend concluded with a victory hat-trick for the SKYCIG and KX Akademy car and maximum points – I couldn’t have scored any more if I had tried! Combined with Carl’s issues, my results left me 102 points clear at the top of the championship table going into the summer break.
Break or no break, though, all I want is to get back into the car right now and be at Snetterton already! It’s another circuit I love, so fingers crossed we can have another stellar weekend and extend our lead. We still have lots of work ahead and plenty of improvements to make the SKYCIG / KX car even faster for the remainder of the year, and I can’t wait!
A massive ‘thank you’ as ever to all the guys at JHR and my sponsors KX, SKYCIG and Hansford Sensors – and to all of you for checking out my blog and for your continued support.
See you at Snetterton!