It’s amazing to think that as I write it’s almost the penultimate Bank Holiday of the year here in the UK and the next one after this will be Christmas! This year is really flying by and many motor racing championships are now fast approaching their conclusion. The next time I compete in the Protyre Formula Renault BARC Championship at Silverstone at the beginning of October it will be the final two rounds of that championship as well.
So last weekend at Donington Park was the penultimate event of the series and there was plenty of activity as for the second time this season we had a triple header which meant a back to back double qualifying session on Saturday morning followed by a race on Saturday afternoon and two more races on Sunday and with the exception of a few spots of rain in the second qualifying session all of our on track action was conducted in very warm and mostly sunny conditions. Once again we had a bumper 27 car field re-enforcing just how popular this championship has been this year and a very large crowd helped by the fact that we were sharing the billing with The British Truck Racing Championship and what a bunch of great characters and great racing they produced!
I came incredibly close to grabbing pole position in the first qualifying session; in fact when the chequered flag came out I still had it but rival Josh Webster just ahead me on the road managed to grab an extra lap and with it pole for the first race by the slender margin of just a hundredth of a second! After just a five minute break we were out for the second qualifying session which would set the qualifying times for the grids for races two and three. Again it was incredibly close but this time it was my turn to grab pole by just seven thousandths of a second with what turned out to be the fastest time by any car (or truck for that matter) in any class for the whole weekend! Unfortunately my second fastest time of the session would only be good enough for grid four of race three so I knew I would have some work to do there.
Race One Saturday afternoon was a bit of a boring affair really. Josh and I both made good starts from the front row and pulled away from the rest of the pack and although I sat on his bumper for much of the race there wasn’t a way round to be found and with our pace being so incredibly similar achieving an overtake through any of the high speed corners was going to be difficult with the aero effect. At just over three quarters distance my tyres started to protest at the hard time I’d been giving them and with two more races still to come on Sunday it was better to back off and take the solid points for 2nd place.
Some weather forecasts on Sunday predicted heavy rain but though it clouded over a couple of times the downpour never materialised and our second race Sunday lunchtime in front of a very sizable crowd was once again in warm sunshine. I made a good get away from pole but it was all for nothing as before the end of the first lap the red flags were out! We re-gridded for a restart and once again I made a good clean get away and was pleased to be able to run in clean air for the whole race and gradually ease out a gap of almost 4 seconds. On the final lap I made a big effort to ensure that I bagged the fastest lap as well.
Race three was near the end of Sunday and with no sign of the predicted downpour I was pleased that I hadn’t had to work my tyres too hard in the previous race at lunchtime. Starting from grid four was not ideal but I would keep my head and see how things panned out. David Wagner made a good start from pole and the front four held station on lap one. But it was all change on lap two. As David backed us all up I seized my chance at the chicane and passed both Josh Webster and Seb Morris to go from fourth to second place in one go in a move straight out of the Formula Ford Handbook!
With all the excitement David had managed to get a bit of a break but it wasn’t long before I reduced that to virtually nothing and with all the squabbling going on behind I didn’t have to worry about defending. But once again I was in the dirty air and David to his credit soaked up the pressure that I put him under and with things panning out as they were during the race I was happy to settle for another second place making it a very satisfactory weekend in all!
I’d really like to thank Cullen Motorsport, Jamun Racing and Sarah Shaw for all their help this weekend. I couldn’t have done it without you guys and I hope you all enjoyed yourselves as much as I did. Just to prove we work hard and play hard we all managed a sneaky trip off to Alton Towers Water Park on Friday morning which was lots of fun and very refreshing in the sizzling conditions!
So now we have a quite a long break to the final two rounds of the championship at Silverstone at the beginning of October which I am looking forward to immensely as we get the chance to showcase our championship in front of a big crowd as we are with the highly popular British Touring Cars and we will also enjoy the benefit of live TV coverage on the Sunday.
However I will be far from idle during the seven weeks off. We have two race events and some testing coming up with Ryan Cullen in the Dunlop MSA Formula Ford Championship of Great Britain and it’s great to see Ryan making some very encouraging progress in recent test sessions. I hope he can translate that to good race results next time out. I will also be spending quite a bit of time helping out with the kart team as usual and there is a chance that I may be racing elsewhere between now and the final Protyre Championship event in October but I will keep you all posted on that if & when it happens!
Thank you all for your continued interest and support and a special mention for Lynn, Rod & Jude! You all know why!!
Bye for now