Hindsight is a frustrating thing for me as I look back on the first half of the season. A lot of things have gone right. I am able to focus much better for a race weekend now and I’m far less stressed out driving for Handy Motorsport rather than running my own team.
The car is a much more suited base car than the Audis. I think we would have really been pulling our hair out if we had continued with them and as an overall thing I’m very happy working with Simon Belcher and the Handy team.
We have made a lot of changes and there were a lot of firsts for most of the team so it’s really taken us until now for everything to fully gel and to find our feet but now we have a smooth running outfit that’s a match for any in the pit lane.
Where we went wrong was after qualifying for the opening round, having struggled with a cold right rear tyre on short runs we panicked and aborted our setup direction in favour of Tom Ingram’s setup. Unfortunately, a mistake was made somewhere down the line so what we had didn’t work and from there we managed to lose ourselves for a couple of rounds.
At Oulton park we finally got on top of it. We realised that my driving style is so different to Tom’s that I require a completely different setup to him. From here, we didn’t have a chance to go testing and doing all your work over race weekends is slow going as you can’t make big sweeping changes and risk losing yourself again.
The Dunlop tyre test allowed us to take the bigger steps that we had been wanting to take and after a morning of trying a few things we put them all together and were right up the time sheets on old tyres. The afternoon of the second day of testing was most pleasing as that’s when literally everyone threw new tyres on and went for a time so to be 4th on the time sheets bodes well for the next round and I hope, for the second half of the season.
The frustrating thing is that the setup we ended up with was very similar to the one that we were running pre-season. If the track temperature had been just a little bit higher at Brands that day then we wouldn’t have panicked and lost ourselves. The whole first half of the season could have been a totally different story.
Having said that, we have had some very solid results and I don’t feel like we have shown ourselves up, it’s just knowing that we have not reached our potential is a frustration.
Going in to the second half of the season I have a really good feeling. The car’s great again, we are starting to put things together for 2017 and we head now to some of my favourite tracks. Snetterton should be a strong one for us and I have always been strong at Knockhill all the way through my career. Rockingham has been the scene of some great wins and the Toyota went well there last year as well… In fact, I’m excited about all the circuits and I’m really hoping the second half of the season sees a return to form and we can start to challenge at the front.