Heading to Donington I tried my hardest to keep an open mind as we did for Brands and Thruxton, however after two strong results at both the race and test it was hard to not have my eyes set for the top three of the timesheets. So after finishing the weekend, I feel slightly disappointed with the results of seventh, sixth and third that I achieved.
The weekend started with a great track walk with SV Racings driver coach and BTCC driver Paul O’Neill, where I got the ins and outs of the fast and flowing Donington Park circuit. Testing started off promising with FP1 being the first session of the weekend meaning a very very slippy track.
A number of drivers noted that it was very easy to lock a brake especially into the big stop into the final chicane meaning that a lot of U turns were made, but we were relatively happy to run P7 only four tenths off the fastest guys on old tyres which was a good start.
In FP2 there was an opportunity to run new tyres and perfect the set up going into Quali. Rob Boston and SV Racing gave me a great car, we ended up P7, four tenths off the pace again, with still more to come with myself which was frustrating me!
With a down day in-between testing on Thursday and Saturday I headed home to stick my head in a book revising vehicle dynamics for my Motorsport Engineering degree while observing the data and video from the day before determined to apply what I had been told. The sector times were all there but I needed to put them together on one lap!
Quali was again the first session of the day meaning that the track was slightly green and slippery. It was noted that the fastest lap from the tyres were coming after five laps on the tyre so it took a little while to warm the tyres, and as I was getting to a good lap the red flags came out which broke up my run unfortunately.
After the red flag I went out straight away and managed to pick up a great tow around the lap but I out braked myself for the final chicane and went off which really annoyed me! I bent a wishbone as I went over the kerb but managed to go faster after the off which put me P8. If I had kept it on the track I would have been P5 which really frustrated me and put me on the back foot for race one. Again the sectors were there but not all on my fastest lap.
Going into race one I knew I could make a place up off the line and did just that. The real drama kicked off when Watson went off at the chicane at the end of the first lap meaning it was almost four wide going into the first corner.
I was behind the most inside car on the way in, having already made two places to then having that car spin right in front of me, meaning I dropped back to seventh again. I then spent the race attacking fellow TCF blogger Luke Davenport but having to defend from Tom Oliphant which was frustrating. If I could have passed Davenport I would have been happy.
Race two threw in a new challenge. Half hour before the race it threw it down. Having never driven the car before on wets it would be a step into the unknown. I made another great start even pulling level with pole sitter Charlie Robertson before the first corner! I got slightly unlucky exiting the first corner being muscled out but ran seventh when the safety car was deployed.
It was seriously hard to see the track through the spray and my screen was also steaming up which didn’t make it easy for me. People started to back up behind Harry Woodhead and I had been at the front of the queue for a little while. Having been passed by Orton, I managed to pass him again exiting Redgate, however Woodhead backed me up going into the chicane by braking early, and I knew Orton would be able to go back around the outside going into the chicane.
So in the second part of the braking area (not really knowing where Orton was as my windows were steamed up) I rolled off the brakes and went to the outside of Woodhead and just about stopped in going into the right! I thought I then might be under attack going back into Redgate but it seemed they also had a bad exit.
This allowed me to catch and pass Huyton for 5th, however having done the hard work I then messed up the exit of the final chicane on the final lap to lose 5th in a drag race to the line! If I had held on I would have been happy!
Everything happens for a reason and the sixth place gave me reverse grid pole for the final race! My team were convinced by the weather forecast that it would be wet. So going to the grid on wets was the decision. Driving to the grid I realized it was dry, at the top half of the track anyway… it was hard to make a decision to change then as we didn’t know about the bottom half of the track. A long delay cleaning up the touring cars gave us ample opportunity to finally make our decision.
With the majority of the field now pushed off the grid back into pit lane we joined them…. It was very painful to be pushed off of pole position not knowing it was the right decision yet. Oscar, Paul, Alex and Rob did a fantastic job to swap the tyres quickly and we joined the queue at the end of the pit lane to start the race. As we were last to make the call to change (being on pole with the most to lose) meant we joined the queue last effectively starting last! Not a good start.
The first few laps were very interesting pushing on stone cold tyres and avoiding people tripping over each other but I avoided the carnage and made it up to fourth position chasing the two United Autosport cars. I reeled them in quite quickly setting the fastest lap but then the pace evened out and I got to within a second. However Carl Breeze was given a five second penalty boosting me to third! Happy days!
A nice way to end the weekend and reward the boys for their hard work. I’m glad I got the final podium as the KX Akademy Clio lads bought it home 1,2,3,4! There was quite the party atmosphere in the awning afterwards and team manager Danny Buxton got soaked with 4 bottles of champagne!
From my ITV interview and scrutineering, still dripping in champagne and trophy in hand, I got to The Tesco Filling Station to join Jason Plato and Sam Tordoff on stage for their Q&A session in which I got a great applause for my results which was a great feeling stood in front of roughly 200 people!
Since Donington I have attended Media Training at Brand Pilot HQ with the KX Akademy learning the dos and don’ts of talking in front of the camera which was a really enjoyable day and I learnt loads! This involves much more planning going to the weekend and practicing our style of interview. The KX Akademy is hoping to carry on our success on track and practice our new skills on the tele for Thruxton!
We’re off to Thruxton only next weekend, I’m loving the short time in-between each race so I don’t have long to wait to get back out! We went really well at the test so I’m not kidding myself this time and accepting my hopes are high! We have a strange format of quali and two races on Saturday and one race on Sunday so make sure to tune in at roughly 1pm on Sunday to see the race!
My #KaptureKX competition will be running again for any photographers out there. The competition is aimed at anyone with a camera to snap a pic of one of the KX Akademy drivers and tweet it into #KaptureKX, the winner will win a signed, framed A4 print of their image! Details can be found here: http://www.davidpittard.co.uk/kapture-kx-photo-competition/
The KX Akademy will be running the KX QT again on the Thruxton weekend, make sure to follow @David_Pittard on Twitter to find out the details when they are released.
If you’re coming past the SV Racing awning please pop in and say hello!