Looking back to last year, it’s difficult to put into words the emotions I’ve gone through!
Off track it was amazing and unforgettable, getting engaged to Emma and then having our first child, wee George. But in terms of motor racing, not the best of years but as always, I’ve learnt a lot for the future!
My GT Cup season was over almost as soon as it had begun when Paul Bailey’s Brabham suffered an engine issue and unsurprisingly, he decided to withdraw from the series. Then my British GT campaign in a Porsche 718 Cayman GT4 RS Clubsport, which started in April, ended after six races when co-driver Matty Graham, my partners and I, felt it wasn’t moving forward in the right direction.
So then it was an unexpected return to the Porsche Carrera Cup GB in June. I was delighted to immediately post solid sixth and seventh positions at Oulton Park, and the rest of the year looked to be heading in the right direction – bright light shining at the end of the tunnel for once – life on-track was good! There was me thinking perhaps my luck had changed for the better…
But I guess I must have unknowingly run over a few black cats in my lifetime as at the next event, on home soil at Knockhill, I was hit into a barrel roll in testing resulting in massive, unrepairable damage to the Porsche. With guests there from all over Europe, it was a huge blow – almost as big as the one I suffered to my head!
Looking back now as we start 2023, honestly, from that point on back at the end of July, we never recovered and my Porsche GB season, infuriatingly, whimpered out.
I went to Silverstone at the end of September with a brand new Porsche but frustratingly couldn’t extract any pace from it whatsoever – it had a mysterious underlying issue. The Toro Verde GT team threw a lot of time and effort at it and so I thought ‘okay, things can’t get any worse, so onwards and upwards to Brands Hatch’.
But after testing a day before the Brands finale in October, I knew they’d been unable to cure the problem despite their very best efforts. The car was a pig. It is never ideal arriving at a race event having an underlying problem because you are then playing catch up and it’s not the place to try and rectify it.
But in a desperate attempt to improve things, we changed all four dampers after practice had been a disaster but it didn’t make a bit of difference in qualifying. We’d also made further significant changes to the set-up but again there was no improvement to the handling of the car indicating an underlying issue. It left me and the team hugely frustrated so we made the joint decision to withdraw from both races.
We would have been racing massively out of position and I think when that happens its quite dangerous. Without the pace to go forward it doesn’t look good on anyone so all parties decided to draw a line under the programme.
As you can imagine, I’m now even more determined than ever to organise an exciting programme for this year. As ever, these things take time while patience is required – something I’m not good at – but I hit the reset button soon after Brands last year and will be working extra hard over the winter to see where we can go racing. Things are looking good – that’s all I can say…
Despite the disappointment of last year’s racing, I’m eternally grateful to those who have supported me including Peter Gronbjerg at PyroDry who supported me throughout the season in the various championships – literally through thick and thin. However, onwards and upwards towards bigger and better things in ’23. Hope to be speaking with you again very soon.