It’s been about two months or so since my last blog, and till two weeks ago there wasn’t much to report. In the pre-season this year things were looking rosy, we had two title sponsors on the table and we were pretty sure that these would both develop. Unfortunately, within the space of a week it all fell through and with about a month to go until the start of the season I had no drive lined up.
A couple of weeks before the start of the season I had a phone call from Charlie Kemp at HHC Motorsport – he had seen one of my sport marketing blogs and wanted me to run the social media and PR at HHC – give us a follow and a like on facebook and twitter. I was really pleased to have been asked and it provided me with a perfect work experience placement to support my university studies at Leeds Met.
So I took off to round one with HHC, over the weekend I had loads of people ask when I would be back in a car, and quite honestly I didn’t know. I was speaking to a few people including Simon and Jake Hill and Thomas Baker from Parr Motorsport and Torque. He put me in touch with Paul Robe, who runs Parr Motorsport and things developed from there into me getting the Porsche Guest drive car for Donington Park two weeks later – I was ecstatic.
Having sat on the side-lines for ten months it was always going to be a bit of a challenge but I was looking forward to it. Due to the fact that Donington aren’t allowed to run three noisy days in a row the test took place on Thursday. I was immediately into the top six on the time sheets, the front of the grid felt like miles away but I knew as I got more comfortable I would get quicker.
In the second session I found half a second and was feeling much happier in the car, now up to fifth and with a day until qualifying I could see the nine tenths I needed to be on pole. The main issue I was having was that I wasn’t bringing the front tires ‘in’ quick enough. The Porsche has the engine in the rear end so the front tires do not get worked as hard. Generating heat and grip into them is much harder than it is in a Ginetta.
Also on the ‘day off’ I made this video:
I was learning all the time and went out for qualifying with a good idea of what I needed to do – and I got it! My first lap was a 1:07.3, pole at the time was a 1:06.8 and p2 was only two or three tenths up the road. I got the idea of how to bring the tyres in and I knew there was still time left in the tank. After a brief chat with Alan Hyde I got back out on track for my second run and improved by another tenth of a second, good enough for fourth. I was happy but I also had a small lock up at Coppice which cost me p2 or maybe even pole.
Race one was a standing start and these race cars don’t have clutches that are easy to work with. I made a bit of a mess of it, and ended up last as I came out of Redgate on lap one. The rest of the race was spent trying to make my way back through the pack. It was great fun overtaking the other cars but my pace showed I could have run right at the front so to finish sixth was a little disappointing. Most importantly I knew I had the pace and that race two was a rolling start.
The second race started much better, I retained fourth as I exited turn one, losing one to Victor Jimenez and gaining from Michael Meadows going off. I settled into the race and let the tyres come in before I started to press on, I immediately caught Victor when I pushed and was ready to go for a move. I ran wide at the Old Hairpin as I caught a bit of understeer behind Victor.
As a result I dropped back behind Paul Rees, I quickly caught him back up and got passed. Then, the heavens opened. There seems to be something about me, one off drives and wet ends to the last race. I hadn’t so much as turned a wheel in the wet so I had no idea what to expect, it didn’t help that we were all on slicks, so I thought. I was expecting the red flag, it was a bit dangerous out there on slicks, and the cars have too much power for the grip in those situations. Two cases of locked brakes sent me into the gravel at Redgate and Coppice, when I lost tyre temperature I was skating around and going slower and slower.
I crossed the line in fifth, which for my debut in the Porsche Carrera Cup GB, was a great result. However I really wanted a podium.
I want to say a massive thank you to Porsche Cars GB and Parr Motorsport for their help over the weekend, it was a fantastic to get back out and for sure a career lifeline that I fully intend to make the most of. Also a massive thank you to everyone who came to watch and supported me throughout the weekend!
Unfortunately I won’t be racing at Thruxton this weekend, I will be there with HHC Motorsport. I am hoping to be back out soon but don’t currently know what I will be racing, as ever the budget we can find will determine that.