So the time had finally arrived! My first ever race weekend. We were heading in to the unknown on the back foot for a mix of reasons from no test day to scrub in the tyres to my mechanic having to work! Late night work Saturday in the garage was spent applying new stickers, putting the race tyres on and ensuring everything was in place for the morning.
The promised heavy rain arrived just in time to leave us an extremely wet track for qualifying and this led to strong words of warning from my pit crew and others in the garage to be careful on my slippery new rubber. Especially as you must complete 3 laps to be allowed to race! Once I got on track I was just focusing on building up slowly, getting my laps in and avoiding lots of spinning BMWs! The session was red flagged briefly before we all headed back out which led to a very busy track that was difficult to find space on. I don’t think I ended up putting in any laps that were remotely clear but the car survived the session and I was on the grid! Once the results were out I was 40th out of 42, so not last!
The first ever wait in assembly area was the slowest 15 minutes of my life! Finally we were lined up on the grid, warm up lap done and the lights came on. I didn’t make a great start, but I didn’t stall which for my first ever race start I mentally noted as success. On the run down to the first corner I went round the outside of fellow newcomer James Barratt and got settled in to my race. Come the end of lap 1 there was some drama to avoid up ahead when contact led to a spinner in the middle of the road coming out of the chicane. Eventually the 2 cars that had come to grief came back past me and I set my sights on Brendan Murphy up ahead. I spent most of the race getting closer and closer getting more and more confident as I went but I just couldn’t get close enough to have a look at getting past. This meant I would complete my first ever race in extremely difficult drying conditions with no issues and in 25th out of 29 starters.
This time I lined up slightly less nervous and with much improved track conditions. I was starting off the back and this time only surrounded by people who were out of position that quickly disappeared. After the first few laps I found my confidence and flow which led to me beginning to haul in the few cars battling ahead. This was the story of my entire race as I pushed harder and harder, setting a faster time than in testing and visibly reducing the gap to the cars ahead which increased my confidence. This time I avoided getting lapped and was extremely pumped getting out the car from the thrill of finally getting to push hard in the dry attempting to catch those ahead. I may have been the last finisher but I’d gained a lot of experience from this race that I intend to take forwards to Brands Hatch.
The aim going in to the weekend was to finish both races with no damage which we achieved. The fact I didn’t come last in my first ever race and then went on to not get lapped in the second race were positive baby steps towards progress and I now can’t wait to get back in the car at Brands where we will be better prepared and aiming to take a step up performance wise. Many Thanks to Kev and Paul for helping me keep the car running all day long.