Coming into the meeting I was feeling good, we had a solid off-season working both on the car and on my own driving. The team have developed a new rear aero package, giving a solid straight line speed increase at a small detriment to some rear grip. It also allows for much greater adjustability at different circuits which can only help!
Friday was a hectic days testing. Lots of drivers had been testing on Thursday as well which added some pressure. We spent all of the sessions trying to dial different settings into the new rear, adjusting ride heights, springs etc to try and find the best balance for the circuit that we could. By the end we had something that I was comfortable with and we shelved the car for the day.
Naturally, just before Quali it hammered it down. With no wet testing on the new rear it was going to be a bit of a learning experience. 4 Laps into Quali, after struggling to get a clean lap because of backmarkers the session was red flagged and I sat in second about 8 tenths off Richard Miles’ pole time. Sitting in the car waiting I didn’t think the session would restart and was a little frustrated, I knew the time was in the car and I hadn’t had the opportunity to do it. The session restarted with just over 3 minutes left, knowing this meant only two flying laps I had no choice but to overtake Richard and do them in-front of him. Both flying laps were good enough for Pole and I couldn’t have been happier. Performed under pressure.
Race One was back to dry weather. I made a decent start and Richard Miles stalling from second left me unchallenged into turn one. I managed to build a 3 second lead early while Danny Andrews and Paul Smith scrapped for second in the other two Mittell MC-53’s. Managing the pace from this point onward to take my first victory of the year with a solid drive.
Race two couldn’t have been more different….
I again got off to a good start, leading the train through turns one and two with no issues. Into Graham Hill bend however, I made a mistake losing the rear slightly and ended up dropping to third behind Danny and Paul. Once I managed to get past Danny into turn one several laps later, Paul had a 2 second lead and it was time to try to reel him back in. Over several laps the gap came down to 3 tenths and I was pushing hard.
I then made a poor mistake, while trying to stretch my vision through turn one I attempted to use as much of the exit curb as I could and in doing so managed to put a wheel into the gravel, losing all of the time I had gained. This would mean I likely wouldn’t be able to catch with the remaining laps. The next lap Paul’s engine blew, handing me the lead of the race. I would then cruise in for the next 3 laps while Richard Morris reeled me in to take the second victory of the weekend. This race was a great learning experience looking back on it, the process may not have worked perfectly but there is lots to learn and grow from.
All in all a good start to the season results wise and plenty to work on moving forward ready for the next round.