Lots of Learning

British GT Championship Round 6 - Donington Park GP

We went back to Donington Park last weekend as Championship leaders for the sixth race in British GT, but after a difficult weekend where double points were awarded for the three hour race we now stand fifth in the Championship with ground to try to recover at Snetterton on the 3rd and 4th October. We had started well on Saturday, concentrating on our race pace which was good over the long runs. Both Gus (my co-driver) and I aborted the one qualifying run we each did which meant that we did not feature highly on the session timing sheets but that did not concern us at all. Qualifying then went well in one way and badly in another, our accumulative best lap times put us in fourth place on the grid, in what was a very tightly grouped range of times across the first six cars. Unfortunately at the end of Gus’ qualifying run the engine blew. The team worked hard through the night replacing the engine, stopping at 4.30 am to have some rest and got back in the garage at 7.30 to finish off the installation. They did a great job so that we could take the car out in the morning shakedown at 9.30, then worked tirelessly and with precision through Sunday to be deservedly rewarded with the race Win by our #58 sister car driven by my team mates Jordan Collard and Patrick Matthiesen. Gus and I unfortunately only managed to bring our car home in eight place following a pit stop error which resulted in us receiving two penalties that dropped us to seventh on the road.

Gus had got off to a great start in third place which he comfortably held until our first of three planned pit stops. The Toyota jumped me in what was then my first race stint dropping us one place which I held to our next planned stop, where we incurred the two penalties that dropped us to seventh. In the last 45 minute stint I was battling with former LMP2 Le Mans winner, BTCC winner and GT Champion Warren Hughes, holding a gap of between 1 and 3 seconds in front but was caught by him when one of the GT3 cars dived past me on turn one with about five laps to go, giving Warren a run at me which he took and then held me to the line.

Finishing eighth in a double points scoring race was not what we were looking for, particularly with us having qualified in fourth place, our best qualifying result thus far. As for the challenges of the race we have to mark them down as things to learn from. The pit duration timing error penalty was an unfortunate driver mistake, which was compounded by getting a second penalty while trying to rectify the first fault. Individually and together they were expensive lessons now learnt. So on to Snetterton in less than two weeks time to do our best to improve our Championship position.