Hello and welcome to the blog!
This time actually I’m actually going to be talking about some racing rather than all the business/networking things of late which have helped me get here… I signed with KCMG to do the final points-scoring round of Formula Masters China and the invitational race at the Macau GP.
I’d been out of a racing car for nearly 11 months as I was busy raising investment and sponsorship into my new company Dan Wells and Investors Ltd. Thankfully with the company up and running I can now primarily focus on driving! I have a great management team around me including long time Formula One team commercial director Ian Phillips, my father as CEO of the company, and now Will Fewkes who is looking after the company and myself on a full-time basis. Will flew out to Hong Kong just over a week ago and has been straight into the deep end, but he’s done a fantastic job and ensured that everything ran smoothly with myself and my sponsors over the race weekend.
I headed into the weekend confident that we could fight at the front of the field. I finished 2nd in the Formula Pilota China Series last year but the changes in this year’s regulations including the new Giti tyres and move from the turbo Fiat engine to the normally aspirated Volkswagen detuned F3 engine gave me a few things to learn in the 3 practice sessions I had on Thursday. The first session was really just acclimatising to the braking of the car, getting up to speed etc but then once we got down to the smaller things I quickly realised the throttle application and way you carry the carry through the corner is quite technical and required a particular style which we had to adapt to. I was happy in practice because I was more often than not quicker than my championship contending team mate on old tyres but when we put new on he found much more time than me! But this is normal for a driver who has been out of a car for a while. I managed to qualify the ENZI Footwear backed KCMG car in 7th after dropping down from the top 4 in the last few minutes of the session when I came across traffic and others improved. We were making steps in the right direction however so I was relatively pleased.
I had a total of 23 guests over the Shanghai race weekend thanks to ENZI Footwear, Start JG, and LinkedIn, and the crowd was amazing for a Chinese race – the atmosphere was really something quite special. To be driving again, racing, and seeing the realisation of the plan we’ve been working on all this year was very special. The start of race 1 was simply great (one of my specialties for anyone who knows my racing!) as I went from 7th to 4th by turn two, braving it out around the outside of the long winding first corner in Shanghai International Circuit. I ultimately crossed the line in 5th, managing to beat the newly crowned 2013 Formula Masters Champion Aidan Wright in my debut race in the series.
In race 2 we had qualified a disappointing 9th but managed to come home 7th, making a double overtake around the outside of turn 8 on the opening lap. My team mate and championship contender Akash Nandy had started 3rd but ended the race just in front of me so we had a bit of work to do for race 3 the following day!
I was feeling more confident on the Sunday, I guess partly because of the biggest crowd and the enthusiasm there, but also because my ‘race rustiness’ had gone and I was raring to go. Again I went for the outside line around turn one and gained some places and came home P5 once again after a couple of safety car periods. The pace was good and we were just a couple of seconds away from the podium but given all the other drivers had raced at that circuit this year, and competed in the series for the whole year plus other testing in Europe while I had been sorting the business side of my racing, it was a good achievement.
The Shanghai round was just a warm up race in preparation for my closest ‘home’ race – the Macau GP. The race takes place on Nov 9/10 and it is my favourite circuit – now I’ve had some experience with the car in this setup I’m looking forward to seeing what we can do around the long twisty barrier bound circuit.
I’d like to say a huge thank you to my investors in Dan Wells and Investors Ltd without whom this wouldn’t have been possible, and to all my sponsors, especially Choctails, Start JG and Joint Dynamics. It was awesome to have so many people there to support me too and we now have a busy week to prepare for Macau with a little bit of driver coaching in Zhuhai too so I’ll be sure to keep you all up to date on how we go!
All the best.