It’s now a year on from when I first started to let slip to people outside a very small circle that I was going to embrace my quarter life crisis and go racing! What an incredible year it has been.
To think that 12 months ago I hadn’t even done a track day and everything I knew came from far too many hours spent tearing up the virtual tracks on-line I really didn’t know how this would go. It was definitely a bit of a rollercoaster!
Round 1 @ Donington – Baptism of flood
From the start when turning up for the opening round with no idea what I was doing, without my mechanic and with no practice day before we were in at the deep end! Torrential rain would add to the difficulties but the car ran fine and I stayed on track all day with the help of my heroes for the day Kev Higgins and Paul Matthews! I was lapped on the final lap of my first race but avoided coming last which was an achievement considering how close to being physically sick with nerves I was beforehand! Crossing that line for the first time leads to a slowing down lap full of ALL THE FEELS. Race 2 saw me avoid getting lapped so an immediate improvement there.
Round 2 @ Brands – Hire from somewhere nearer they said, it’ll be easier they said…
So we hired the Transporter from a more local place and got the car wedged on there! Oops. Lesson learned. Front bumper torn off. We were out for the second half of our open pit test day and starting to feel comfortable in the car. Of course come race day the heavens opened (a theme was emerging here…) and the practice was largely useless! However in the slippery conditions I went reasonably well and had a much improved qualifying putting me 29th out of 40 and finishing 23rd out of 30 in both my split group races. I got to mix it up and have on track battles for the first time and came away with a big smile! Lots of friends and family down to support really made it a great day out. It was nice getting home at a reasonable hour for once as well!
Round 4 @ Oulton Park – bang goes my savings!
I reached out to a few teams for help and signed up with the Routec guys to get some support. Got my monies worth when 30 minutes in to the engine went pop. I was gutted as I LOVE Oulton Park and lost most my track time. SOMEHOW they got my engine (and Drinkwaters) changed over night and I could go again. They earn their money! I had a few good battles in the races but a poor quali session without a clear lap hampered my race results. I still came away buzzing having driven Oulton Park albeit depressed at how much this was going to hurt my bank balance! Also finally got to meet one of my Sim Racing team mates Chris Butcher who stayed to help us pack up. The journey home was too much and we ended up dropping over £100 on a crappy hotel room for about 7 hours which hurt the bank account almost as much as my soul.
Round 5 @ Silverstone – This is what it’s all about!
Silverstone was the first time I really felt like a proper racing driver. The test day went well and the track is SO good. Really helped me gain some confidence in the car through fast corners with the nice big run off areas and I learned a lot to take forwards. A decent qualifying session saw me 29th out of an incredible 43 cars (how many other one make series can boast that?!) The first race was a complete wash out. With visibility of about 2ft if that the first lap was ridiculous! Something felt wrong with the car and I pulled in to get it checked before rejoining just behind 16th on track albeit a lap down. I expected to be looking in my mirrors but something clicked and my wet pace was far better than I could have expected as I stuck to the bumper of the guy ahead. Although this meant a rubbish result due to the stop it gave me a significant confidence boost for the dry second race. I FINALLY made a good getaway and snuck between the 2 cars ahead before losing a bit of ground in opening turns chaos. The whole race was then spent battling hard and overtaking people and I was bouncing the whole way home with a huge grin on my face! The family were up again for this one which was great because I was proud of how I’d done for the first time.
Season finale @ Donny GP – IT WAS SUNNY
Routec had the car feeling better than ever although a mare of a test day with clutch and brake issues lost me half my running. I had a strong quali with 27th out of 40. This led to 2 EPIC races full of position swapping and close battles. My best performances by far with 26th and 23rd in full grid races. Once again I was smiling for hours afterwards! The first time I had a dry race weekend all year!
Massive thanks goes out to:
Louise – Not killing me for getting wet and cold
Routec Racing – Amazing work saving me multiple times and improving the car no end
All my friends and family that have come to support, it means the absolute World!
Alex for his help to get this all started, I definitely wouldn’t have got here
Kev for keeping me pushing on with the plans throughout and supporting ideas!
Compact Cup guys – organisers and drivers. I had a great experience in my first year with you all and hopefully I’ll see you bigger and better in 2016! Shared some great battles with many people.
It’s now time to turn my attention to sorting things for next season! Hoping to be back and much improved in the Compacts with a few exciting loosely related racing projects alongside. I’ll be upping my blogging game significantly over Winter so check back regularly to keep track of how I’m intending to up my game in 2016.
Many Thanks to everyone that has followed me this year while I took a leap and chased my dream. Although I’ve thrown pretty much every penny at it I don’t regret it for a second and really urge you to go and do whatever you’ve been putting off. Now. Stop reading and go do it!