What is it with Thruxton and me? It's my favourite circuit to drive yet it always seems to be where I go through my lowest lows in racing.
In 2012 this event nearly broke me! I'd had enough and could see no way forward after a disastrous time with our then-engine builder and, on top if it, a huge crash in qualifying which wrecked the car. We were really staring into the abyss... It was actually a good friend of mine who said to me "Quitters never win and winners never quit" and that really sunk in and motivated me to get back on my feet and keep trying. It's been my motto ever since.
Then there was last year when we were so far off the pace it was a joke. Again a real downer. And now this weekend just passed. It's fair to say after qualifying I needed some time alone. We'd gone more than two seconds faster than we managed 12 months before but we were still 1.8 seconds off pole. It was a real head in hands, leave me alone moment.
The lads stayed pretty late on Saturday night working on the cars and I mucked in too, getting on my back underneath Sherman while we changed gear ratios on both mine and Hunter's cars (by the way he really is starting to show some serious speed now which is a great sign). Hunter was still in the hospitality awning when we were packing up so we took time to analyse Andrew Jordan's pole lap online - boy what we'd give for the Audi to behave like his Honda around Thruxton, although saying that shouldn't take anything away from him as his commitment was equally impressive!
So into Sunday and we all know the results. I was pleasantly surprised at our race pace. I had expected to be stronger in race trim (we always are) but we were closer to the pace than I expected. Clearly I need to analyse what we learnt this weekend and improve the car for next year here but I feel that just a small amount more stability at the rear and we would have been fighting inside the top ten - something that seemed so far away last year.
We had a very rare engine glitch in race 1 which dropped me out of the points in the closing stages and then the incident with Nick Foster in race 2 and a points finish with 12th in race 3.
But I guess what you all want to hear is my view on the race 2 clash with Foster. It's no secret I was very disappointed with Ian Watson's (the clerk of the course) decision to exclude me but I have great respect for Ian and I do accept that the replays don't cover me in glory and Nick did have a wild ride in to the barriers so he had to be seen to do something.
In hindsight my mistake was to try and back out of the manoeuvre when I realised that Foster was unaware that I was there. That makes me look really bad in all the replays. If I had relied on him to give me the space I was entitled to and kept my foot in the impact would have been door to door and would have looked very different but at the time. But I didn't fancy risking my life around Church corner for the sake of a single championship point and trying to back out seemed the right thing to do at the time.
It is upsetting though when you pride yourself on being a clean and fair driver to have your reputation called in to question by another driver when in fact I know it was his lack of awareness that caused the incident in the first place.
To reinforce my point of view I would like to take this opportunity to remind people of Silverstone 2012. It was a very similar situation in to Copse corner but I was in Nick Fosters position and on the outside of Dan Welch. I did the same as Nick did and turned in causing Dan and I to crash. The difference is that I am capable of accepting fault. I immediately apologised to Dan and then went straight to the stewards to hold my hands up - I told them that I had made an error of judgment which has ruined someone's race and I should be excluded!!!
So you can see that when the situation is reversed it's frustrating for Nick not to accept any responsibility at all and instead criticise my driving standards on live TV.
Anyway, rant over, and so ends another Thruxton downer but maybe not so bad as it looks. We were actually quite close on race pace and that's on the worst circuit for the Audi. Next up are Oulton Park - where I led last year - and Croft, which is even better for Sherman and Panzer. Both Hunter and I will be testing at Oulton this Friday along with some other teams. I'm determined to get our season back on track and genuinely believe that our fortune is about to change for the better...