So, Rockingham, I had a lot of pressure on me going in to the weekend. Literally every single person I spoke to said something along the lines of "you go well here" or asked "are you going to win again?". Various comments like these meant that I was fully aware that expectations were high but this is BTCC 2015; it’s a different beast to previous seasons.
Qualifying saw 20 cars within a second of pole position... and on one of the longest laps of the season; it is just incredibly competitive! And as I’ve said in previous blogs, when it is so tight you need everything right to be at the front. Hard work and determination can only get you so far and unfortunately we are fighting with one hand tied behind our backs with the Audi as a base car.
It’s a strange thing when you have so much expectation on you, yet you know you will only be able to do so much. You want to give a realistic and honest reply but it’s easy to sound defeatist if you try to explain why it isn’t that simple. And we certainly weren’t defeatist. Realistic, yes, but we gave it our all and if luck had been on our side it potentially could have happened.
So race one didn’t go to plan at all. As I changed engine maps as part of our start procedure the TOCA ECU had a melt down and went in to limp mode. That meant that I had to turn the master off and restart the whole system (like rebooting your PC when it freezes) all while the whole grid is flying by and I'm just praying everyone manages to avoid me. In this situation the new rule where your lap time in race one qualifies you for race two was a real saviour and I was able to start race two from P7.
It was a shame because 3 solid top ten results were very much on the cards. However that was completely out of my team’s hands. Otherwise I really felt we maxed out the package we had and sixth and seventh were as good as anyone could have done with what we have.
Looking ahead to Silverstone I am hoping that top-tens could be on the cards again. Our car isn’t as well suited there and top-tens will be a big achievement on such a competitive grid, but I really feel confident in my team and my ability that they are a possibility.
I don’t really like the Silverstone National lay-out we race on but I understand why it’s used for the BTCC – a short track means more laps in each race for the crowds and ITV viewers to enjoy. It’s also always a big crowd at Silverstone and to pack that many people into the confines of the shorter National circuit – particularly in the grandstands on the run from Luffield through Woodcote and onto the pits straights – always means an electric atmosphere. I suppose as well the racing around, the National circuit tends to be more exciting than any of the other Silverstone lay-outs which is never a bad thing in my book if that adds to the entertainment for the paying fans.
Look forward to seeing you all there.