When I turned up at Brands Hatch on Saturday before the race I really wasn’t sure what to expect results wise. I hadn’t driven the car at all over Winter and the track conditions when testing on the Wednesday had done more harm than good to my confidence levels!
We had been given the privilege of garages for Sunday but this did not mean things went smoothly…the chaos of the FunCup lot leaving and the Compacts trying to get to garages nearly led to World War 3! It was about 9pm before we finally were able to start setting up properly in our designated garage and start applying the 2016 Championship stickers. I finally headed for home around 11pm having done all the hard work required…taking stickers off and putting new ones on! Leaving the Routec guys to the easy bits like actual work on the car…..
My alarm felt like it went off far too early Sunday morning! I left my house just after 6 to ensure a stree free early arrival at the track in good time for sign-on and scrutineering. This all went fine with no dramas! It was a new experience having the scrutineers come to us in the garages for the first time ever which was brilliant and saved a lot of time. If only it could be like that every weekend! Now it was time to get in the mood for qualifying and some final checks.
We had a few issues getting my car on the scales before my qualifying session due to a slippery garage floor so unfortunately I was at the back of the queue. This led to quite a frustrating session being stuck behind a group of slower drivers until I backed off for a lap to find some space and got one clear lap in. Shortly after this my session was ended slightly prematurely when my laptimer decided to detach itself and disappear from my view forcing me to pit to ensure it wasn’t in my footwell. I cut a rather frustrated figure as I backed my car in to the pit garage until someone showed me on the livetiming that not only had I smashed my previous PB but also finished 12th in session – a huge improvement! Not long after I was congratulated by my family and friends who were delighted to see that my position put me in group B…avoiding the last race of the day for the first time ever!
I never want to repeat the preparation for Race 1 again where me and Simon were still belting me in to my car as everyone started leaving the assembly area! Not the rush you need when starting in the brutal mid-pack for the first time. Obviously when I turned up at assembly fully ready for Race 2 we were sat there for a good 20 minutes….standard!
I’ve spent a lot of time going over video footage and my data since Brands Hatch and have marked out plenty of areas to improve on. I need to be bolder in the opening laps – both in pushing my car harder sooner and in my battles for track position. I’ll also endeavour never to fluff a restart like that again! I have to say though I came away with plenty more positives and was absolutely delighted to take my best finishes so far! I even gained a bit of another cars paint for the first time after receiving a little love tap to add to the excitement. I also know I learned a lot about the car by finally ‘growing a pair’ and just throwing it in to corners much faster than I thought possible…to find it sticking! Comparing data I was definitely strong at Druids and Graham Hill as I was almost matching my man Rich Miles (who took his first win in Race 1!!) through these sections.
So I’ve taken the positives and made sure to work on the areas I marked for improvement ahead of Rockingham. The team recommended testing the week before for the open pitlane day as we’ve got a lot to do! They’ve identified some things to improve on my car and I’m getting Simon Roche to help with some setup work and tuition for me. Hopefully this should me we can find time in the car and me which would lead to a nice little leap forwards. I’m really excited to get back out there and continue making those gains. The next aim has to be the top 10 where things will start to get steamy. Bring it on!