Since my last column, there’s been good and bad news on the racing front so let’s get the negative stuff out of the way first! My GT Cup Championship team-mate, Paul Bailey, has decided to withdraw from this year’s remaining races and I can fully understand his reasoning.
We suffered engine issues with his “customer” Brabham BT62 Competition at Brands Hatch a month or so back, the car’s first outing since a new engine was fitted. We had to switch to his 10-year-old and very rare McLaren MP4-12C Can Am for Race 2 and although we won the GTO class, the McLaren is uncompetitive compared to the more modern cars we’re up against.
Not surprisingly, Paul is very disappointed with the Brabham’s unreliability and so believing that we’d struggle for the remaining races, he’s pulled the plug on the entry. After that Brands event, we were placed sixth overall in the championship standings and second in GTO but I have to agree with Paul that continuing would have been a massive uphill battle.
I feel really sorry for Paul who has spent a lot of his own money on this car. We twice made history in it last year, having achieved the first-ever class victory for a “customer” Brabham BT62 Competition in June, we went on to achieve a first outright race victory in the world for a “customer” BT62 at Silverstone in August.
My next race was with Matty Graham when we claimed sixth place in the Valluga Racing Porsche 718 Cayman GT4 RS Clubsport in the British GT Championship at Donington Park at the end of May.
Competing in the GT4S class and sharing the driving duties of the AL-2 Teknik UK/PyroDry supported Porsche in the three-hour race, we battled for a podium placing for much of the race.
We didn’t quite have the ultimate pace plus we had a 15secs ‘success’ pit-stop time penalty which didn’t help our cause. I started the race with new brakes but by the end, the brake pads were badly worn. We were also lacking straight line speed compared to the other Porsche. So a combination of little things added up to us not being quite as competitive as we wanted and needed to be.
I was back in BGT action at the end of June with two, one-hour races at Snetterton but despite two, top-six placings, we’ve decided to discontinue in the series. Elements haven’t quite worked out how we all envisaged and out of respect to our partners at AL-2 Teknik UK/PyroDry, we’ll take a ‘rain check’ for the remainder of 2022.
But as two chapters close another unexpectedly opened when I got an opportunity to return to the Porsche Carrera Cup GB in mid-June. I posted sixth and seventh positions at Oulton Park.
I raced with Toro Verde GT for the first time and it was great to be back in the Porsche GB paddock. Started Race 1 from eighth on the grid, the qualifying times were very close, had a really good start and carried good momentum until it was red flagged after cars were going off in all directions.
Sixth place returning to the series was a good result for me. Race 2 didn’t go to plan; I held my sixth place start position for a good part of the race but didn’t have the pace to move forward. It took too long to get temperature or pressure into the front tyres which ultimately cost me. I had a hefty lock-up causing me to run wide at the hairpin losing a position.
The 992 is surprisingly quite different to the 991 Gen 2 car. Everything just feels a little bit more sophisticated; cockpit and controls are dissimilar. The handling characteristics are very different as well, being able to roll a lot more minimum speed into the corner as opposed to the ‘older’ Porsche.
It actually feels closer to a GT3 car with a little more aero. Engine, gearbox and braking feel sharper but I got used to the car quickly having driven it for the first time a couple of days before the Oulton event for the first time.
The team did a great job in welcoming me, we gelled and got on very well together. I felt really calm and relaxed with them. Jules Westwood, who heads up the team, did a fantastic job and I’m now eagerly looking forward to my ‘home’ race at Knockhill at the end of this month. I’m indebted to Peter Gronbjerg at PyroDry who is making racing on home turf happen for me.
Coincidentally the last time I raced there was in the Carrera UK Cup back in 2020 in the In2Racing MacConnal-Mason Gallery 911 where we finished third. From memory, before that, the last time was in the 2012 Celtic Speed Mini Cooper Cup!
Being a Scot, people immediately think that I know the track like the back of my hand but as you have read, I’ve not really been there that much. It’ll be nice to be back there and I have always enjoyed Knockhill. It’s a small but technical ‘driver’s’ circuit so again I am looking forward to hustling the new 992 around there for the first time which should be great fun.
I’d like to complete the season but the Thruxton rounds are very close to my partner Emma’s due date for our first baby. I’m going to make a late call on that closer to the time but we will cross that bridge when we come to it . . . I don’t think I’d be forgiven if I missed the birth!
Most recently, I was on a Supercar Driver Magazine Alps tour with some friends of mine. We shared a Porsche GT3 RS in which we toured the Alps and ended up in Monaco for a few days which was nice.
It was nice to hang out with some car enthusiasts and go and talk all things motorsport and cars. Very different to what I have done in the past but it was a nice experience all travelling in convoy through some iconic roads and stunning scenery in the South of France. But I must say that now I’m counting down the hours until Knockhill.