Brands Hatch – 1st of April
With one race meeting under my belt and my race car gleaming in the sun we set off for Brands Hatch. I keep my car at my parents’ house in Cleveland so it’s a long trek; roughly 5hrs door to door!!
Predictably having polished the car it rained on the way down and it arrived looking muddy. (How it manages to find mud on a trailer with a center board travelling down motorways I have no idea – but it always does!)
Spent Friday testing which was brilliant. By the second session I’d started to really settle into the car and my times weren’t too bad.
With one meeting, four races and a testing session under my belt I should have been more relaxed on Saturday morning but it’s fair to say I was more nervous than a long tailed cat in a room full of rocking chairs! With Signing on, first time drivers briefing and scruitineering all scheduled for the same time and at opposite sides of the circuit I ran about like a mad thing and wondered if it was an April Fools joke for new drivers. It wasn’t and was feeling slightly better once they were all done.
Qualifying was a brief affair with a damp track two separate red flag incidents bringing it to an early close. I only got 6 laps (one more than Mallory) and never got a decent lap in the bag however everyone was in the same boat. This meant I’d qualified 32nd out of 35 starters. The top 6 automatically qualified for the final. So I’d start the heat in 26th.
Race 1 – Started 26th Finished 18th
With a gap ahead of me on the start due to the crash in qualifying I had a nice piece of empty tarmac to aim for when the lights went off and made quite a decent start. From then on luck stuck with me and I managed to overtake 8 people during the 15 minute race. This included a fantastic battle all the way to the line with Danny Cassar which saw us swap places three times. In the end I was about a third of a car length ahead as we crossed the line for the final time. As I returned to the paddock I had no idea where I’d finished but a huge grin – what a race!
Race 2 – Started 24th Finished 21st
For the second race of the day I was on the left hand side of the grid. This seemed a dangerous place to be as anyone on the inside of the corner who had a problem was likely to slide my way. Tried hard not to think about that as I went down the outside of the pack round paddock hill bend and made up quite a few places, unfortunately I then bottled it going round the outside of the Druids and everyone I’d overtaken went back though – doh! So as we crossed the line for the first time I was still in 24th.
It then took me five laps to catch and pass the car in front and I managed to work my way up to 21st by the checkered flag. A great race but not a patch on the heat.
Roll on Snetterton
Had some fantastic battles, just need to work on qualifying now! Again the car goes back on the trailer in perfect condition (thanks to Graham and Jason who helped me mend a snapped wing mirror on Friday night). I’m now looking forward to Snetterton on Easter Weekend and wondering if I’m going to suffer withdrawal symptoms in May when the calendar calms down.