Hello and welcome to another instalment of my blog.
Last time I spoke to you was after Shanghai, and there has been a lot going on since then! There was a two week ‘break’ between the Shanghai and Macau rounds of Formula Masters China Series, and for every single day and night I was like an 11 year old boy at Christmas – I was going to be driving the Macau circuit for real! I’ll be honest, I did have trouble sleeping at times due to the excitement.
The Macau circuit is a special one. Unchanged in decades, it is properly old school and punishes mistakes severely. With the limited practice time (30 minutes), you have to be sure to be up to speed quickly, while not going into the barriers which will seriously compromise your weekend! Pulling out onto the circuit for the first time was just amazing – and half way into the session when I started pushing a bit more, the team came on the radio. They said ‘you are P1, you are P1’ – I just responded by shouting ‘this circuit is so damn awesome!!!’. I enjoyed driving it so much. We didn’t get a clean end to the session when we encountered traffic on the last 3 laps, but I was happy because I felt I was still ‘within’ myself and there was more to come.
This weekend was the first time in my career I’ve had a dedicated driver coach – I thought, if we’re going to do it, let’s do it properly! We spoke with Marko Asmer (ex-BMW F1 tester and well respected for his work in racing paddocks worldwide) and he coached me for the weekend. I was pleased at how well we worked together, including KCMG, and Will Fewkes, my COO.
For qualifying, we decided we only needed to make very minor changes to the car, and that the rest would just come in driving. Qualifying was pretty special. I had about 20 guests in Macau over the weekend, including one of my investors, and it was great that my team boss Paul Ip was there in good spirits too. We were P1 for the entire session – by 3 seconds at some points… I was really pleased because I was able to go out, do one warm up lap, and then put my time in on lap 2. The session was red flag interrupted, and we were P1 until the point that Akash beat me to provisional pole in the last few seconds of the session, and then the red flags came out again for an incident on circuit which deleted my final flying lap time. But never mind, a KCMG 1-2 in the Macau Grand Prix was a pretty good result!
Unfortunately, race day was wet, and the race officials cancelled the normal race start procedure and instead we started behind the safety car, which stayed out for 3 laps. There were then 6 racing laps where I could try to overtake my team mate – and we got to within 9 tenths by the flag after what must have been a tense last lap for the team, but ultimately finished P2. I was pleased with our performance though – a year and a half since last driving in the wet, never on that tyre, straight into a race situation, and my fastest sectors were 4 tenths quicker than anyone, and we were 33 seconds up on the 3rd place finisher.
I’ve never been so disappointed to be standing on the podium for, but I did manage a few smiles – and we got by far the biggest cheer on the podium with all my supporters there! If I ever doubted how competitive I was before, I certainly know how much I want to win now… At the end of the day, after my management team and I worked so hard all year, and I was just doing gym work to make sure I was fit to drive the car, I took a front row position in the Macau Grand Prix, and finished on the podium, we showed how competitive we were and I had so many people there to cheer me on… Just as I imagined at the beginning of this year! I still remember speaking to people in Jan/Feb 2013, and saying I was going to be racing in Macau, I didn’t know how I was going to do it, but I knew I was! It was a special weekend and one that I will never forget.
We now have a very busy winter working on our plans for Japanese F3 with KCMG in 2014 – but first, I’m going to be doing the Angor Wat half marathon in a week’s time with my dragon boating team, the Panda Paddlers! – raising money for the Cambodian Children’s Fund. If you would like to sponsor me, please go to https://www.ccf-hk.org/panda-paddlers and donate some money and wish me luck!
After that, I am going to be testing a Formula 3 car for a couple of days which I am very excited about as you can imagine… There will be more news soon, but I’ll let you know when I can! Before we know it, it will be Christmas, I will be in the UK, then we will have the Autosport Show, I’m sure 2014 will go by in the blink of an eye too. Let’s just hope I’m driving for the entire season this time, and we win a championship, though, eh?
I’d like to sign off this blog with a thank you to all of my investors, sponsors, KCMG, friends and last but not least, family! I can’t describe how impossible this task would be without their support. Special mention to Jonathan Cummings of Start JG, Simon and Hilary Delamare of Choctails, Dixon Wu from Keypad Magazine, Christian Ward from ENZI Footwear, Colin Symmonds from Joint Dynamics, Paul Ip from KCMG, and Angela Cummins for ensuring I was able to get the most out of myself on a race weekend. I can’t thank everyone here (this blog would be another page longer, seriously!) but I’m so grateful for everyone’s support.
Next up, F3!