I’m heading to the next Protyre Motorsport Ginetta GT5 Challenge races at Snetterton next month (7-8 Aug) brimming with confidence after good performances in the latest two events at Silverstone and Donington Park.
I was in mega form throughout the weekend at the famous Silverstone Grand Prix circuit – claiming my maiden GT5 pole and coming so very close to winning in the category for the first time – not only the opening seven-lap race but also the second, longer event.
I’d raced on the ‘National’ configuration in Ginettas last year, for the first time, but had never before raced on the GP track, having first visited Silverstone with my mother to watch a Ferrari Challenge event in 2017. I like Silverstone, it’s a really cool track but it is hard to get everything perfect, and it’s very technical.
I was very happy with my performance in both races at Silverstone. In Race 1, I just didn’t see the Yellow Flag that apparently had just come out and was being waved. I was on the far left hand side of the track, coming from third-place to overtake two cars on my right, while the flag was being waved on the far right hand side of me. My view was blocked by the cars I was overtalking – it was just unfortunate.
Although I crossed the finishing line first, I was later given a time penalty dropping me back to third. No complaints from me, rules are rules. In Race 2 the racing, like it’s been so far this season, was ultra-close with loads of overtaking. I was leading but was hit, a small touch spinning me around. I recovered to 10th at the chequered flag but it unfortunately brought an end to my 100% podium finishing record.
After Silverstone, I could easily have been reflecting on two victories as opposed to a third and a 10th place finish but that’s motor racing sometimes. But I felt I’d proven I could consistently run at the front and was very happy with my performance.
We then raced at Donington and I was very happy to score three podiums; my maiden win, plus a second and a third. Unfortunately for me in terms of the championship, Josh Steed also scored very well so I didn’t reduce the points deficit to him.
Qualifying went very well, bagging the third fastest time for Race 1 and ‘pole’ for Race 2. The fastest time for the second race was very satisfying as several drivers found themselves delayed by Yellow Flags and ultimately a Red Flag but thankfully, I got the business done early giving me the ‘inside’ start position, in relation to the first corner, for both races.
I snatched the lead in Race 1 on the opening lap and claimed the win by a narrow margin after a Red Flag brought the race to an early end. Luck was on my side on this occasion, unlike at Silverstone, as I made a mistake on the lap the race was Red Flagged and dropped to second behind my Elite team-mate John Bennett but the final classification was taken from the lap before. I’d have preferred to have won in ‘normal’ circumstances but a win is a win.
Looking back now, Race 2 was the one that got away from me. The bottom line is that I wasn’t fast enough through Sector 2, only the eighth quickest on my best lap. I led the opening eight laps over the start-finish line but not the last four and especially the 12th and final lap that really mattered. I had a healthy lead over Steed but he was very fast and caught me. We then battled it out over the final four laps to the chequered flag. But I locked the rears up approaching the chicane, which unfortunately allowed John [Bennett] to slip through on the final lap. I guess it wasn’t meant to be.
I was happy with second-place in Race 3 but not so pleased with the slight contact with John [Bennett] at the start. As team-mates, we need to avoid these situations, and the fighting between ourselves was the main reason Steed broke clear. I knew I couldn’t close the gap to him [Steed] and then I had contact with a back-marker which affected my car’s tracking, causing it to ‘crab’ on the last lap. Donington marked the halfway point in the season and there are still eight races remaining so everything is still to play for.
I feel very at ‘home’ with Elite Motorsport. My dedicated Elite mechanic is Matthew Precious. He’s a very nice guy. Chris Hodgetts continues to be a really big influence in my career. He’s always at a test, for example, which is a big help. He’s a great teacher and someone I look up to. Hopefully I can continue to benefit from his huge experience in the coming years. Over a race weekend quite often Seán Doyle, James Littlejohn and Jody Fannin are also present to give guidance to us Elite drivers, which is always very useful, while Elite Ginetta GT4 SuperCup racer, Adam Smalley, is often a great help to us all as well.