Carl Breeze feels his 2014 Michelin Ginetta GT4 Supercup campaign was “not a bad season overall”, with the Ginetta stalwart feeling he just “missed out on that key ingredient” required to put a successful title challenge together.
While it was Breeze’s sixth successive season in Ginetta competition this year, a move to United Autosports for their debut campaign in the series provided him with a new challenge as he aimed to add to his 2012 Supercup title.
A late deal to sign for the British GT regulars meant Breeze entered the year without a pre-season testing programme in his new GT4 specification G55 though. With an undeveloped car, and a nightmare opening weekend at Brands Hatch, Breeze was on the backfoot from the off.
“We didn’t get the car until two or three days before Brands so there was no time to test the car. We were straight into the first round which meant it was obviously difficult, we had a lot of issues with the cars handling,” Breeze told TCF.
“We came away from Brands with only one score on board, already seventy points off the lead, so there was a lot to do and it’s fair to say for the first two or three rounds we struggled a lot with the car.
“From Oulton onwards we were back in the mix with the pace, as we showed at Croft and then Knockhill which was obviously a highlight.”
The two northernmost trips of the year certainly proved to be the standout meetings of the season for both driver and team.
At Croft, Breeze notched his first two wins of the year along with a second place, before replicating those results around the tricky Knockhill circuit, two more wins being followed by second place behind team-mate Luke Davenport.
Breeze picked up 204 points out of a maximum 218 from those weekends, his tally of 103 at Knockhill being the biggest single points haul by any driver in the Supercup all season, on a weekend in which he beat the all-time Supercup win record in his 100th race in a category.
The Ginetta stalwart feels a rare chance to get some pre-event running in at Knockhill was the key to that success, and is frustrated he couldn’t replicate the pace on more occasions.
“We actually tested at Knockhill on the Wednesday before with most of the other front-runners and it gave us a bit of a headstart with the development of the car for the weekend. We hit on a set-up that seemed to work,” Breeze reflected.
“Qualifying was intense, we’d been quickest all of testing and with one lap to go we were P7 but then snuck it into pole position. From there, winning the two races and the one-two in the last race was brilliant.
“It’s been a little bit frustrating that we haven’t had the killer pace more often really. Knockhill and Croft showed that when we have the car on the money we’re pretty much unbeatable, but it has been too few and far between.”
Ultimately Breeze was left to rue a lack of consistency with car set-up and pace that left him relying too often on his characteristic fast-starts and renowned defensive driving ability to grind out results.
“In a championship like this you just need to have a dry set-up and a wet set-up that you know you can bolt on the car and that it will be quick, and that’s something we struggled to get,” he pondered.
“If you do the qualifying averages for the top six drivers through the year, I would imagine we were fifth or sixth on that list as we’ve not really had the outright pace to be on the front row of the grid where you need to be really.
“We’ve only had one pole position out of ten qualifying sessions, and maybe one or two fastest laps, so we’ve had to rely on being good out of the gates. Our first lap pace has been a strong point, getting off the line well and making up some places, then trying to run a consistent pace through the race.”
While Breeze came up short in his pursuit of a second title, with another nightmare meeting at Brands in the final rounds eventually leaving him third in the final standings behind champion Charlie Robertson and David Pittard, the 35 year old is pleased in the circumstances to have taken the title battle down to the wire.
“It’s not been a bad season overall. It’s great to win the Team’s Championship, which is good for the team’s resumé, and to take the championship right down to the penultimate race is something I’ll look back on with pride,” he concluded.
“We’ve been able to get some wins and some podiums along the way, but we’ve just missed out on that key ingredient this year. We were like a Jack Russell snapping at Charlie’s heels for the duration of the season, and when you look at the performance of their car they were so fast at every race, so I couldn’t have asked for any more.”