Brands Hatch was bathed in sunshine for the opening round of the BMW Compact Cup. With 45 cars entered we needed to be split across 2 qualifying sessions and would each race in 2 of the 3 races. Without having the chance to do any pre-season testing or enhancements to the car due to limited funds I hadn’t set any high expectations – other than I wanted my first sub 1 minute lap at Brands Hatch!
My qualifying preparation was a little rushed due to being the last of my team to get a chance to check we would make weight on the scales, putting me at the back of the train for qualifying. The opening laps were a nightmare but I managed to find a good gap for a single flying lap which was good enough to put me 12th in my session. I came in rather frustrated at the lack of clear laps but was delighted when I saw the time I had managed on that lap!
I would be starting 16th out of 30 so firmly planted in the extremely busy midfield. Unfortunately being 16th lined me up on the outside of the grid and even though I got a good launch off the line I lost a place to Mark Morton who started inside me. Coming out of the first corner James Nutbrown had been spun up ahead and I had to take avoiding action which cost me another 3 places as I lost momentum. The early laps were then extremely busy trying to attack those ahead but not give the guys behind a chance to get through which was a tough job! I was overtaken a few times but also made a few places myself before the safety car came out to deal with an incident at the final corner. This interrupted a good race I was having with Jack Drury who would then escape me after I got caught out on the restart. The last 5 minutes of the race involved a little scrape as I got a bump from behind before I settled in to try and chase Jack down but ran out of time.
This saw me start in 15th which put me on the inside line. Another decent launch was hampered slightly by a few cars ahead making contact but I was able to minimise the places lost due to clinging to the inside. The whole race was then spent having an epic battle with Jack Drury again after he snuck past during a huge moment at Paddock Hill that involved him being on the grass. I was pushing him hard the whole race before finally sneaking through when he missed a gear coming out of the final corner on the last lap! We then spent about an hour chatting about the race with huge grins.
Overall it was a great start to the season considering the lack of Winter development and testing we did. Next up is Rockingham on 15th May and we still have opportunities for local companies to get involved from just £50!