We made it through the season and ended on a real high! I’ll start with the climax at the end of the season and then go back to what we had to overcome to get there.
The scholarship season ended with the last round of the championship in October at Brands Hatch on the GP layout. Thanks again Ginetta for the scholarship to launch my circuit racing career. We then decided to do the Winter Series in November. It was a really tough decision because we would have to fund the Winter Series ourselves as it’s not part of the Scholarship season and so the costs will impact on the funds that we need to build to be on the grid next season.
The Winter Series is a one shot weekend at Brands Hatch on the Indy circuit consisting of qualifying and 2 races on the Saturday and then another qualifying and 2 races on the Sunday. The motivation behind doing the Winter Series is that it would play an important role in my preparation for next season with lots of race seat time. We announced our intention to do the Winter Series and Integrated Air Systems parachuted in and covered the entry fee. Thank you Graham Marginson!
The end of the Ginetta Scholarship also marked the end of the scholarship livery and so the Winter Series was the launch of my new livery and the renewed support of my sponsors who have all enjoyed the journey and have all pledged support for next season with increased input! Thank you Integrated Air Systems, Trustic Motors and Mammoth Insulation Services. We could not do it without you. We are seeking more sponsors to come onboard to replace the scholarship funding, to help with pre-season preparation and running in the 2022 championship. My car will also be running a logo in to show appreciation for donations, both private and public, as these contributions are a crucial part of my pre-season preparation budget. Please get in touch via https://mauricehenry.com/contact.
After racing at all the circuits, I had chosen Brands Indy as my favourite circuit. That proved to be the case as I qualified 3rd on both days! On Saturday, my 2nd best qualifying time was 7th, for the race 2 grid slot and on Sunday my second best qualifying time was 5th, for the race 4 grid slot. To put myself on the second row both days was a huge step forwards in my development. I knew the racing would be tough as it would be my first time racing up the front, which is a different type of racing than in the mid-pack, but I held my own.
In race 1 I made a decent start and only lost 2 places. I was defending well as I settled into a rhythm, but this dropped me back from also being on the attack. Eventually it took some contact from behind to nudge me out of the way. I caught the slide but the lost momentum dropped me down to 8th. In race 2, starting 7th, I got a better start. Over the course of the race I gained a couple of places and lost of couple of places to finish 7th. Lots to learn but if I can keep my qualifying inside the top 10 I can start to develop how to survive up there. In race 3 I started 3rd and finished 5th. The coverage was great and Tom White of Trustic Motors who came along for the weekend to support me really enjoyed it!
Race 4 was the only wet race of the weekend. I am comfortable racing in the wet but for some reason I just didn’t hook it up and we will have to look into that. I’m glad to know where I need to focus. I started 5th and finished 8th. So my best weekend yet with two 3rd places in qualifying, a 5th place in a race and 7th overall in the championship.
All in all, a solid weekend and I can go into the winter break in a better position than if I had not done the Winter Series. Now read on to look back at what I had to overcome in the previous couple of rounds to get here.
Just 3 weeks prior, I had my most eventful weekend, at the last round of the summer championship, at Brands Hatch on the GP layout. Friday testing went well, but the red flag in qualifying cut it so short that I got caught out and didn’t manage to set a representative lap time, which put me down in 25th. My 2nd fastest time put me in 12th for race 2.
In race 1 I worked my way up to 16th. Race 2 was ended on the first lap by an incident that I wasn’t involved in but was collected and came off the worst. Every corner of the car was badly damaged, It hurt my back and I also lost a scrubbed tyre due to a broken wheel. But the Fox Motorsport engineers worked into the night rebuilding the car and completed it in the morning. Due to the DNF i’d have to start from the back of the grid in 29th for race 3 on the Sunday. The team rebuilt the car perfectly and I could only feel the new tyre on the front right corner not biting as much around the left hand corners but I was able to drive around that. I put in as many overtakes as I could in the short race to take 13 places in just 5 racing laps before the race was ended early due to a red flag incident. This also secured vital points to help the Fox Motorsport team clinch 3rd position in the team championship!
I really needed those rounds, to bounce back from the previous round at Donington. A weekend that promised so much, fell a bit short. It was a great weekend of progress, but you like to show it in the results and that needs the racing to go your way. Qualifying was going well; I kept going quicker in each sector, but every lap I hit slow moving traffic on an apex of a corner and so didn’t get to hook up 3 good sectors in any single lap. This resulted in qualifying 20th for race 1 and 21st for race 2.
It was disappointing for me because my sponsor, Graham Marginson had planned a big day out for his team on the Saturday and with 14 guests, I wanted to put on a good show, without mid-pack incidents. Nevertheless, the Integrated Air team enjoyed an insightful day inside the Fox Motorsport race team environment and they enjoyed some great racing as I was able to climb up to 14th in race 2 which set my grid position for them to watch race 3 at home on ITV on the Sunday!
You always hope to get some of the TV coverage in the Sunday race. Mine came in the form of contact from the rear putting me into the back of my good friend Fergus Chalmers, sending us both off at high speed down towards the Craner Curves. I managed to restart the car and finish 26th.
So, what season it has been and you can see why the results in the Winter Series were so important to me. It’s been so tough, to come into the season from a standing start and try to progress against all the odds. It will be even tougher next season but we will know what we are facing this time. You will often see me say ‘we’ instead of ‘I’. It’s just automatic as my Dad and I have been working together on this journey since the very beginning. Thanks Dad.
A big thank you to The Checkered Flag for giving me the opportunity to share my journey as so much goes on in a racing season that is not depicted solely by looking at where you cross the line in the results. We head into the winter break with a summary video of the season, to be first seen on The Checkered Flag as a thank you to Editor-in-Chief, Vince Pettit. I look forward to working with you again.
Thank you to the Fox Motorsport team for developing me and keeping a good car under me. Looking forward to 2022.