In my last blog I said that we had turned a corner and we were expecting things to start to turn around, well after only qualifying 23rd and not having a clue why… to say we were devastated would be an understatement. The car felt good and I had no idea why we were so slow, if something’s wrong then you can get annoyed at that but not having a clue was traumatising me!
Fortunately, we have access to Tom Ingram’s data, so once his car was out of scrutineering we were able to see that there was 1.7 seconds to make up purely in the braking zones and we were able to quickly identify the problem. That time would have put us on the first or second row of the grid so on one hand we were relieved and excited that the pace was there but on the other hand it was too late and we were stuck starting in 23rd. Either way, at least I could sleep that night knowing we had a good car after all.
The first lap of Sunday’s racing wasn’t great, I got boxed out and Andy (Andrew Jordan) passed me straight away so I tucked in and thought I would follow him through. A couple of corners later there was contact up ahead which shoved me onto the grass on the outside in one move and we were back to where we started. From there on in, it all worked a lot better and we gradually progressed to P13.
In race two, I got hung out again but had a great race trying to get past Gordon Sheddon. OK, he was limping a bit after his battle with Adam (Morgan) but it still wasn’t easy and I always seem to have a good fair race with Gordon.
Race three, and instead of getting boxed out I boxed everyone else out! It just worked out well and we found ourselves in a good position by the end of lap one. The car was feeling really good in those early laps and I was able to get involved and continue going forward. By the time I got to third, Collard had disappeared up the road and Gordon had so much pace I couldn’t even consider going after him. We had enough pace to keep a comfortable gap to the chasing Subarus, so held on.
I need to thank Simon Belcher for keeping faith in us. We have massively under-performed so far this year but he knew we would get there and kept faith even when Matt (my engineer) and I doubted ourselves. Likewise, our fans, they are something else, a mad bunch but their support is incredible!
On to Knockhill, I really can’t say how we will get on there. The car’s great now and I love Knockhill. I’ve gone really, really well there in everything I’ve ever race around there, in-fact if you were to ask me if there’s one place I am fast at, its Knockhill! However, it’s also a very unique circuit, rear-wheel drive obviously suits it well but power is also a really big factor to drag you up that long hill that is a big percentage of the lap time.
So with three fast rear-wheel drive BMWs, two fast rear-wheel drive Subarus which are also very fast in a straight line and two Fords which are in a different league in a straight line, we will be up against it. I think anything in the top ten and we will be doing very well but the Toyota was actually very fast there last year, so you never know.
We’ll give it all we’ve got anyway and we’ll certainly be aiming to mix it with those guys. If I had to pick who was going to be the top scorer, I would put my money on Rob Collard.