Will Burns feels his 2014 season has been a success after taking four podium finishes in the Michelin Ginetta GT4 Supercup, though admits a difficult season finale at Brands Hatch has put a dent in his hopes of returning to the grid next year.
Burns’ maiden Supercup campaign proved to be a story of three chapters, with a tough start to the year being followed by a superb mid-season run, before fortunes turned against him again at the end of the campaign.
Unfortunately for the Academy Motorsport racer, the season began with four retirements in the first nine races, including a double DNF caused by contact from rivals at Donington Park, but there was cause for optimism with three top six finishes.
The turning point for the Cases Engineering-backed driver was a solid seventh and fifth at Oulton Park that began a superb run of eleven consecutive top five finishes, a feat no other driver on the grid managed all season.
That sequence of results included a maiden podium finish at Croft, an eventual seasons-best second at Snetterton and a pair of thirds at Knockhill, results that Burns hoped to build on that in the final two meetings of the year.
Unfortunately for the 24 year old though, the trips to Silverstone and Brands Hatch proved to be nightmare outings. Incidents and mechanical failures led to four consecutive retirements, the most dramatic being an engine blow-up at Brands that left him sitting out the final race of the season.
While the year didn’t end as he’d hoped, Burns told TheCheckeredFlag.co.uk he was pleased to have regularly fought in the top six of a competitive Supercup grid on a budget much smaller than a number of his front-running rivals.
“At the start of the season I had a bit of a nightmare trying to get the set-up sorted with the car. We were on the backfoot from the start really as we couldn’t test that much, and I struggled a bit without a team-mate all season to keep me on my toes,” Burns reflected.
“Halfway through the season we managed to get on track with it and push for some good consistency with my results and a bit of success with some podiums. I’m really pleased that I could mix it with the front-runners.
“I thought I could maintain that at the end of the season and attack at the sharp end, but unfortunately circumstances has really hampered that. I’m really pleased with how much me and the team progressed though.
“I’m a much better driver now. I’ve got my consistency sorted out one way or another, and it’s made me realise that I can mix it with the experienced drivers, like Carl Breeze, which gives me great confidence for next year.”
While Burns is ready to build on his promising maiden campaign, the Weston-Super-Mare resident admits the engine failure at Brands Hatch is a huge blow to his hopes of returning to the Supercup grid next year.
With the expense of replacing the engine, Burns heads into the winter needing to find additional backing to ensure that not only does he return to the grid, but he does so with a chance of battling at the front again, and accepts he may need to assess other options outside the Supercup for the season.
“It’s hampered me going in to next year, I need to have a look at things over the winter and see what I’m going to be doing,” Burns added.
“I really haven’t got the biggest budget out of everyone on the grid, and a big chunk of money has gone straight away to replace the engine, money we would have been looking to use for testing, entry fees and other things.
“It’s always good to try and join a competitive championship on the TOCA package, but I need to be realistic and look at the costs. I want to be fighting at the sharp end and I’d need even more money than I put in this year to do that. It’s back to the drawing board now really.”