Going into Brands Hatch we expected to have a hard time in front of us. Our success at Donington meant that we had to incur a 20 second pit delay penalty, which we expected would leave us at the back of the field coming out of the pits at the race half way point, and with the highly competitive nature of all drivers there was a high chance we would have to settle for one of the lower positions in this 2 hour endurance race. Instead, we came away with third place and overall lead in the GT4 Championship!
We qualified in 5th, closely behind our sister HHC McLaren but some way behind the Aston Martins which had been absolutely flying all day. We planned for Gus to do the first race stint handing over to me to bring the car home.
Gus had a great start getting in front of the sister car and keeping us right in the fight. A small mistake on lap 7 dropped us behind the Mustang and the sister McLaren before the race settled down through to almost the end of the first hour. With a minute to go before the pit window opened for refueling and our driver change, Gus got a puncture and at the same time a safety car was called following the Bentley GT3 running off at turn 5. The team took a last second decision not to pit Gus immediately, so he had to drive around a full lap on three wheels to avoid us otherwise stopping outside of the pit window and having to stop a second time to make the driver change. The luck of there being a safety car at the same time meant that we lost less time that way.
Next lap he came in, we refueled, I jumped in the car and we sat stationery for an extra 20 seconds to serve our Donington success penalty. I came out with the safety car period over, a half lap behind my main rivals with just one car still behind me. One hour left to race to at least maintain position. I passed the Balfe McLaren when they pitted, and then with 30 minutes left our sister McLaren suffered a puncture following contact with a passing GT3 car. The flailing tyre threw rear bodywork onto the last straight causing another safety car period, giving me time to catch up to the back of the lead pack.
20 minutes left to go when the safety period ended, leaving me with a chance to attack the Toyota who was just a few seconds up the road. 10 minutes left and I had closed the gap, got alongside down the start/finish straight and managed to pass him around the outside of turn 1. From there the pack was a few seconds in front of me and I was building a gap to those behind. It looked as though we would come away with a very successful 5th place but the Astons decided to have a fight with each other on the last lap leaving one in the gravel and the other in front of us on the road but later given a 40 second time penalty, giving us a totally unexpected third place finish. An eventful day to say the least.
Big thanks to everybody who came to Brands to support me, to Core Modular, Hills Group and The RaceHut for making this season possible.
Can’t wait to go back to Donington Park for a 3 hour endurance race next on 19/20 Sept!