Pre-season we knew that Donington and Thruxton were going to be tough; there’s something inherent in our car that just doesn’t suit a certain type of corner and it’s that type of corner that both Donington and Thruxton have loads of. The plan always was to keep out of trouble and pick up what points we could and I think we’ve done that rather well; indeed we have more points at this stage of the season than ever before. Now I’m really looking forward to being back up to pace at Oulton and I firmly believe we will be fighting for wins at Croft so we should really be able to get our championship started.
Anyway, what happened at Thruxton? Well first of all I should point out
that all our guys did a sterling job and were as always a pleasure to work with
and be around, the hospitality team excelled and we had the happiest guests in
the paddock and in general I was just very proud of this group of amazing
people I have assembled that make up RAR. Anyway, going in to the weekend we
figured we had nothing to lose so we tried something a bit off the wall with
the set-up on Saturday. Clearly that didn’t work at all and we found ourselves
qualifying in a lowly 19th.
These days are really hard to swallow sometimes, I never claim to be the greatest driver but I know I’m pretty handy around Thruxton. I mean, have podium finishes (and mostly the top step) in every category I have ever raced around here apart from the BTCC so I can’t be bad. What’s more I absolutely love the circuit! It’s fast and requires bravery while there are also complex parts that require patience and technique – it’s a great challenge to drive. So as much as I love Sherman, sometimes as I watch the Hondas glide past me with ease, I can’t help getting some serious car envy.
Anyway, so after that train wreck we went nuts with the car. We discussed how we could get the car to work better and came up with a quite radical theory, so armed with my instruction to “be brave” Matt (Taylor) worked out Sundays set-up.
Race 1 was a pleasant surprise, OK we only finished 14th but I was with the pack and I felt with a little better balance I might be able to get stuck in to it. This was a big step forward for us and Thruxton. So we made some conservative tweaks ready for the next race.
Race 2 made for an interesting first lap after Morgan just drove in to the side of Andy (Priaulx) which in turn sent cars flying everywhere. I managed to keep momentum up and find a way through (more through luck than judgment I think) and as I came out the other side I found myself in the top ten and Sherman was running well, with the balance improved from race one I was able to push on. That was actually one of my best races from a driver point of view – every lap was bang on and I was really pleased with the job I had done. It also gave us some confidence for the final race of the day.
After finishing P9 in race 2 it was disappointing for #8 to be drawn for the reverse grid. We were expecting Morgan to have some sort of penalty for his actions at the start of race 2 which could have meant we were promoted to P8 and therefore get the reverse grid pole, but unfortunately for us it wasn’t anything that affected the results.
So from P9 we got a good run on the first lap and ran in P7 for a short
while but realistically I knew we didn’t have the pace in the car to hold back
Shedden and Plato. I wasn’t about to give up though and we had some good hard
but clean side by side racing. Unfortunately this allowed the pack to catch me
up and from there it went downhill with one desperate lunge after another.
I was disappointed with the standards if I’m honest, mostly from the new kids. It’s not cool when you give room through one part of the corner and then they just plough into you with their foot buried on the throttle through the next part. After the first hit poor old Sherman just wasn’t the same and as we only just had pace, a slight misalignment was all it took for us to start struggling again. In the end I just had to back it off and bring it home.
But even after a messy race 3 we still have a lot of positives to take from the last two meetings. Now we are looking forward to moving on to my wife Lucy’s local circuit, Oulton Park and, as I’m expecting to have a car I can fight with there, I’m really looking forward to getting stuck in and dragging a result or two out of the weekend.