A good job considering...
So overall we were happy coming away from Donington having made progress with the car, shown pace and taken away two sensible results. However, until race 2, it seemed like I had done something horribly wrong in a former life and fate was against us.
In free practice session one, we had issues with the new spec drive shafts which we had fitted for the weekend, meaning we got no running at all. During FP2 we started playing catch up but when Stuart Lines had one of his spins right in front of me at Craner curves, I was left with no option but to take to the grass at 200kph which did considerable damage to the front end of the car. That left us rushing to fix the car and working out what set up to run, and if I’m honest, when the rain threw another curve ball in to the equation it left all of us flustered going into qualifying, which led to us being very late out and late to switch to slicks.
So when everybody had just five minutes on a drying track at the end of the session my tyres were stone cold, and to top it all off I got held up by a back marker… Considering all of that, we should have been happy with 15th on the grid, but knowing that given a clean run at it we would of been good enough for the top 2 rows left us pretty frustrated with Saturday.
Sunday started in a similar vein, although we were running the soft tyres in race 1 so we didn’t have particularly high expectations of race one anyway. It started fine but then the safety car came out. The rule is that you race until the first yellow flag and once your past it then you reduce your pace and there is to be no overtaking. I got to the yellow flag and backed off once I had past it, the next thing I know Plato comes past me and then 10 seconds later Morgan comes past me… So OK, the Jason one could have been seen as marginal and he genuinely may not of been able to see the flag through my car, still, I found it odd they didn’t reverse the positions considering I finished right behind him, it would have been easy. But I thought Morgan’s was a disregard for the flag and to safety, which was clear to see on ITV’s coverage.
Anyway, like I said earlier we weren’t expecting much from race one, but it did lose us ground and put us in easier reach of the next guys on the quicker tyres, this time in the form of Matt Simpson. Our data shows that my car accelerated 15kph in 2 meters… and that’s while I was braking as well! He did apologise so there's no hard feelings, but it did drop us a further 4 spots.
So, race two, starting in P18 and I can’t see the lights, I get a rubbish start and end up getting clobbered by Alex Martin in turn one... At this point I finally ran out of bad luck and things started to turn positive. As I got up to pace and got a feel for the changes we had made for that race, I felt I had a good front end on the car (this was a breath of fresh air to me) and we were off. Finally I felt like my season had started. I felt like I could get on top of the car and make it turn rather than just sit there waiting for it and it showed. We worked our way up the order and finally got Handy Motorsports first ever top ten result! It felt good because we earned every position as well, and given one more lap it would have been 8th or maybe even 7th.
Race three was another step forward with the car, but I made a mistake on cold tyres at the end of lap one which cost us a top 5 result. That little slide and a bit of front wheel drive experience (I lifted as you would have to in a RWD car rather than keeping my foot in, doh!) lost me momentum and allowed Moffat and Jordan to pass me into Redgate. I then got boxed out trying to re-pass Moffat and lost a further five places as a train of cars came through. So one mistake cost me seven places and dropped me to P16, that’s how intense the BTCC is! But the car was good and we were able to get to work and pick them all back off one by one until we eventually finished 8th and further improved Handy Motorsports record.
On to Thruxton and I am really looking forward to it, it’s a great place and one of my favourite circuits! Its a circuit that I have gone very well at in everything I've raced apart from the BTCC. Sherman was a proper handful around there so I’m really looking forward to going there with the car we now have, and we must of run out of bad luck by now!? So hopefully we can have a clean run at the weekend. If we get that then I am very excited by the potential that the car and I have.
Hope to see you there.