I wish I had a crystal ball. I wish I could see how this weekend at Brands Hatch is going to play out before we get there. I know we have progressed as a team and we are better prepared than ever before but what have the others got, have we done enough? I had been hoping that last week’s official test at Donington Park might give us some clues… My team-mate Hunter Abbott’s form was good – seventh overall and only half a second off the pace on a circuit that our cars have notoriously struggled at. It’s an encouraging sign that all the hard work – the new bodywork design to improve aerodynamics and developments underneath the skin to improve handling and stability – is taking us in the right direction. On my car we weren’t ready for the rain at Donington. We had been working through some big changes and gathering data. The plan had been to then put it all together, bolt on a new set of Dunlops and go for a time but my weather report was wrong (I clearly need a new app)! But we got through what we needed to and there are no points for setting a fast time in testing.
Unfortunately though I don’t think we can tell all that much about how everyone will stack up from Media Day. There were others like us who didn’t get a clean run at a time and there were also people who were bending the rules in order to show well, so the results sheets are really jumbled up. I think going in to this season it’s going to be intensely competitive, unpredictable and very open.
For a start you now have one former world champion, four former British champions, 10 drivers including myself who are proven race winners and many more like Hunter who have the pace, ability and hunger to challenge at the front… It’s just impossible to predict and I don’t believe anyone will know how they will fare until the chequered flag falls on Saturday’s qualifying session. Even then, with so many cars on such a short circuit traffic will be an issue and some guys will get lucky and some won’t so I bet there will still be people out of position.
I think FWD will have a big advantage in that qualifying situation; obviously they are notoriously advantaged in qualifying trim anyway but us RWD guys also have to use tyres in sets of four every time and because of that it then takes us longer to get them up to temperature. It means we will get fewer opportunities to set a time so on a busy track where opportunities for a clear lap will be rare the odds are against RWD. Normally this would even out off the line, but for 2015 we have been well and truly pegged back there… Sometimes I think going to a FWD car would be easier, but then where would the fun be in that?
Having said that I think the new rule where race one lap times will be used to form the grid for race two could work well for us. RWD is disadvantaged in qualifying and off the line now but generally our race pace is stronger as the FWD cars have to back their differentials and cambers off to look after their tyres…
And we have gone well here in the past; in 2013 we led the first race and ended up on the podium and last year we were all set for a very good points haul and maybe even a podium when my prop shaft broke on the grid so this year I hope I can convert some of that form in to solid results. I want to do well for my sponsors FAST Exocet and DUO Plc. It’s their support that means not only are we on the grid again for all our fans but also on the grid looking our meanest ever. Exocet have even brought out a new energy drink – Exocet Body additive! –which will be available from their merchandise stall. We’ll also have a few tins during our Owners Club get-together on Saturday evening. We’re doing one at every event this year and they promise to be even bigger and better than in 2014. Well I’d better dash – I’ve got to boss the troops about. We’ve got Sherman and Panzer to load onto the trucks and get them to Brands Hatch safely before our first practice session on Saturday morning… See you there!