It has been a while since I last did a blog so I thought I would do one more before the year ends on what I have been doing since the season ended back in October.
I have been really lucky so far this winter, having had the opportunity to be involved in some great events in a wide range of cars.
United Autosports Audi R8 LMS Ultra GT3 Test – Donington National
One of the fantastic opportunities offered to Carl and I from the guys at United was a full test in the British GT Audi as a prize for the race wins this year.
This was an absolutely fantastic experience for both us. Chances to test a full British GT spec GT3 car are few and far between due to the cost of running such a car for a day. Hence, a huge thanks is owed to United for allowing us to do this.
The car itself was everything I hoped it would be. I expected the acceleration to be the most difficult thing to get my head round, however, the braking was by far the biggest shock!
The role that the ABS plays is astounding. The braking point for a corner such as Redgate was so much later than anything I had experienced before, even though the Audi runs at over 550 BHP.
All concerns of locking brakes have to be put aside and instead Carl and I had to persuade ourselves to literally kick the brake pedal to get anything near the brake pressure that regular driver Matt Bell uses during a race.
We were both very lucky with the weather too. We had a little wet running in the first session and then the day dried out perfectly. A couple of Minis and an old Lotus Cortina proved slightly scary obstacles but for once both Carl and I came through it unscathed!
A fantastic day and a great feeling for me to drive the car I had aspired to compete in since my first race weekend three years ago.
Ginetta G55 GT4 Test – Silverstone
Myself and a couple of other drivers had a very kind offer from Tolman Motorsport to compete in their brand new Ginetta G55 in a test at Silverstone on the GP track at the beginning of November.
Due to some very English weather, our first day got rained off. So at the second attempt, Flick Haigh, David Pittard and I found ourselves at Silverstone on yet another bitterly cold, but thankfully dry, day.
It was great to get back out on the Silverstone GP track. It’s easy to forget how wide the place is, a very different experience to most other UK circuits.
The G55 was a really exciting car to drive in GT4 spec. The reduced aero and raised ride heights helped cure some of the understeer which we have struggled so much with in the Supercup cars.
The test was really positive and a great reflection of the Tolman Motorsport setup given the small period of time they have had to get on top of the car.
Zak Brown Collection and JMI weekend – Paul Ricard
Without doubt the highlight of my year to date has to be a recent weekend trip to Paul Ricard working as an instructor for United Autosports and JMI on a corporate weekend for some of their F1 customers.
Matt Bell, James Cole, Ian Parsons, Marcus Clutton and I spent the morning instructing passengers in three McLaren 650s’ which was an unbelievable buzz! The amount of power the cars had was insane.
However, stupidly I managed to switch all stability and traction control off on a wet track which made my car pretty skittish but that made it all the more fun for me and all the more petrifying for the passengers!
At lunch we all took the opportunity to see Zak Brown and Richard Dean complete some demonstration laps in some of the Collection which can be seen in the photos below kindly taken by Jakob Ebrey Photography:
The remainder of the day was spent doing passenger laps in our cars. James in his BTCC Avesnsis, Matt in the McLarens, Ian in the Ferrari F430 and Marcus in another Ginetta.
The circuit was a really exciting place to be in a big GT car like the Ginetta. Turn 5, Signes, at the end of the Mistral straight was a real adrenaline rush and the final sector was quite tricky to get right as it involved being on and off the power a number of times midway through a corner. A great experience nevertheless and something I will look back on very fondly.
Here is a short video from the weekend:
A final thanks from me, the support from everyone has been much appreciated this year and I look forward to discussing my plans for 2015 soon.
A big thanks to the TCF guys as well. Simon Paice and Dan Mason inparticular have been great support this year in the BTCC paddock and a real laugh as well.
All the best,