I’ve just had my best race and I can already see how I can be even better. Running in second place and competing for the win in round 4 at Croft was exciting and felt very comfortable.
Prior to this, I had 2 test days, one at Snetterton and one at Croft where I set the pace. I was feeling very confident in myself, my car and my team Fox Motorsport.
The test at Croft was cut short by my biggest crash in a race car, so I only completed 2 sessions out of 5. But my early set pace was strong even by the end of the third, fourth and fifth sessions that I didn’t complete. It was a big crash that left me with a bit of neck pain the following day but was fine thereafter. It’s a chicane that you have to commit to from the previous corner at turn one where the car is under heavy lateral loads whilst heading towards the chicane.
It was such a small error, a wheel dipped in the gravel causing a snap of oversteer pointing me at the tyre bail on the entry into the first chicane. Many cars were torn up through similar skirmishes against that bail throughout the day, but unfortunately, I got another snap of oversteer and hit it full on and that required many components on the front of the car to be replaced. The Fox Motorsport engineers did an amazing job to rebuild the car and I was able to shake it down just before the end of the day. Thank you team. With the damage, the test day cost 3 times as much as intended and we only got to complete less than half the day’s running.
Back at the workshop the car was meticulously checked and prepared for the racing the following week. With the tyre bail removed for competition, the crash was not in my mind at all and I completed an OK qualifying with ninth position for race 1 and sixth for race 2. It was a long day, with qualifying running at 6 pm. But it gave my sponsor Tommaz White of Trustic Motors time to consider taking my car for a test drive!
In race 1 I worked my way up from ninth to break away with the lead pack of 4. Having only completed just over 1 test day at Croft, ever, I surprised myself with how well I knew how to exploit the nuances of the circuit. Battling with the championship leaders, I overtook them both to be in second by the midpoint of the race. My pace was strong and I was in a good rhythm to attack for the win.
However, the front clam bonnet started to rise under braking as the close racing had incurred some contact damage. I could still race but couldn’t extract every centimetre out of every braking point and precisely hit every apex. I dropped back to a comfortable fifth with the loss of pace. However, a car that had spun across the grass at the complex collected me as it came back onto the track. In a race car, you are on full throttle at every opportunity, going as fast as you can get the engine and gears to propel you from the previous corner. As the car was sliding toward the track, there was no time to calculate whether I would be able to go to the left or the right of it, depending on how far the car would come across the track as I was heading towards it. I scrubbed off as much speed as the brakes could but there was no time or space to fully avoid the car and it was race over, just 2 corners from the chequered flag. The damage looked superficial on TV, but such was the impact, every component on that corner of the car needed to be replaced including, steering, suspension, brakes and exhaust components, plus the wheel which was buckled and of course the bodywork. This was actually more damage than the previous test day crash.
Again the Fox Motorsport engineers had a big job in the time available before race 2 and engineers were diverted from my teammates’ cars to get the job done. A brilliant job to get the car out for race 2. Starting sixth I held that position for the first half of the race, but running closely behind other cars, everything was getting hot and the brake pedal went long. I held on for ninth. I needed to come away from the weekend to process what I had achieved as I was in my first battle for a win. I will be back.
We had to pull out of the official Ginetta test day at Snetterton in July to ringfence funds for the championship. I won’t be testing now until we go up to Scotland for the next round at Knockhill. But I am preparing in the simulator at SIMTrack Driver Performance Centre in the meantime.
We are now working hard to find that additional sponsor or sponsors that can keep me in a competitive position for the remainder of the season. Please share this video which is my new appeal for sponsorship and shows the full experience that sponsors could enjoy. At this crucial point in the season, we also welcome donations to keep me competitive. The funds will be used for testing, car maintenance and competing in the Ginetta Junior Championship. This is a crucial year for me to be able to show my full potential before turning senior next year. Please share far and wide. Thank you.