Rupert Svendsen-Cook: Valencia and Spa reports

Svendsen-Cook_15Hello everybody,

It has been quite a while since I last spoke to you and since then a lot has been happening!

After Hungary I went with a couple of friends to Spain for a week which was great. We all just chilled out and took things very easy for a few days. It was nice because we all live very different lives so for all 3 of us we had a lot of catching up to do and things to laugh at!! I spent my days sleeping a lot and then running on the beach and then sleeping again! The season had been pretty busy up to that point so I had some recharging to do.

I also had a family wedding which was very enjoyable. I had not been to a wedding in many years and I thought the whole thing was pretty cool! It was great to see all of my family come together because they live in so many different countries now that I don’t see them too much. Christmas will be the next time I see them all which I’m looking forward to.

My next race after Hungary was Valencia. It is quite a tricky street circuit really as it does not really flow like most other circuits and I found I needed to attack it quite differently. With such limited free practice time (25 mins) I needed to get my head around the place quickly.

The overwhelming factor all weekend was the temperature. At times it hit 40 degrees and for me it was definitely the hottest conditions I have ever raced in.

Qualifying was looking pretty good and I felt comfortable but unfortunately on just my third timed lap somebody missed their braking and hit me hard from behind. I continued the session but my left rear wishbones were bent and my car handling was seriously compromised. I just had to fight on as normal and still rather incredibly I managed 14th and 10th on the grid so it wasn’t too bad. I was disappointed but I knew I could fight back.

My first race did not get off to the best of starts though. At the first corner 2 cars had hit the wall and I was coming around the outside so my path was blocked. I just stopped. I had nowhere to go. I reversed up and continued but I came around on lap 1 in dead last position. Thankfully, the safety car was called out so it gave me a chance to bunch up to the cars in front. At the restart I just got my head down and pushed very hard. By the end of the race I finished in 10th! It was a good comeback from what could have been a much worse result. I had third fastest lap and so for the next race on Sunday I felt good!

My second race started much better. I had a great first lap but behind me there were so many shunts that we had 2 safety cars which left just 3 laps racing at the end. I made a few moves and crossed the line in 5th. I had great pace and after starting in 10th to finish 5th after so few racing laps I was very satisfied.

I felt very confident going into Spa in just a week’s time.

Spa came around very quickly as I just had 2 days at home before I flew out Belgium. Dennis came with me for Valencia but I did Spa all on my own. My Mum dropped me off at Stansted on Wednesday afternoon and I flew into Cologne airport which is only about 1 hour from Spa. You can hire a car in Germany at 18 years old so I had got myself a little car… which ended up to be a Fiat 500!! It was quite a funny car to drive really but just so slow and no feel at all in the steering! I cannot understand at all what the fuss is all about with this car! I trundled along up to Spa and had a really enjoyable meal with my team on Wednesday evening in an Italian restaurant in the Spa town itself. I have been with DoubleR for 2 years now and in that time I have built up some great friendships with them all and I always enjoy my time with them.
 
On Thursday it is quite a boring day with not much to do but me and my friend Michael ran the circuit around lunchtime which was good and tired me out a bit! It was good then because a few more of us got together and went up the road just out of the circuit for some lunch. It was me, Michael, Asad and Ollie and we had a good time. It is nice because when we race we are very hard with each other but away from that we can have a really good time and laugh about things.

Friday morning came around soon enough and free practice was upon me. Spa is a bit special early in the morning as the dew hangs around for a bit and the whole place feels a bit spooky. For free practice we tried a bit of an experiment which certainly did not work! But, it was good data and very good for me to feel the difference and also I knew where my time was for qualifying. Qualifying went very well until the last 2 laps where there was a yellow flag so I did not want to push anymore in case I lost my lap times but then others did and nothing happened about it so it was frustrating. Still, I was 6th and 7th on the grid and I cannot complain too much with that. My pace was truthfully more like row 2 but it was OK. Race 1 was very tough and I kept my nose clean but raced hard. I finished in 4th just off the podium but it was a satisfying result. The same story pretty much for my 2nd race. I came through to 4th again just off the podium with great pace but it was all I could do in that amount of time especially after the tow to the cars in front was broken so I had a pretty lonely race.

I was very happy with the weekend though. Consistently now I am a front runner. I have shown my speed consistently now and I feel ready to win. I want to win. It is certainly possible, just some things have not come together quite as I want. But I know that when I am ready and when my time comes I will win. I just have one more race weekend to do it at Monza, my favourite race circuit! We will see what happens.

Take care.

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