What an absolutely bloody awesome weekend!!! There’s a lot to tell so I apologise for this being so long.
It took a while to come good; we tried a new set up in free practice that didn’t work so reverted back to our 2013 race winning set-up for qualifying. I was devastated when that didn’t work either. Slightly different tyres this year and different track conditions meant that the car felt nothing like it did last year and we were gutted, devastated even. We had such high hopes for this weekend and it felt like we had fallen at the first hurdle.
So we picked ourselves back up, decided that 13 was a lucky number and got to work. I have so many people to thank for this weekend but a special mention has to go to my engineer Matt Taylor – he started with us a number 2 mechanic many years ago now and has worked his way up to being my #1 and now my engineer. It was his work that (he correlated about 20 huge spread sheets worth of data!) allowed us to understand what was going wrong and how to fix it on both cars.
With a mechanical issue on Hunter’s car to solve as well the whole team and I were flat out getting everything right late in to the night on Saturday, and what a team of guys I have. Not one complaint or moan. The jobs needed to be done and done right so they just got stuck in! I’m so proud of my selection of such a brilliant group of people, every single member of the team is honestly an absolute pleasure to employ and work with.
Anyway, enough about those numpties! (LOL)! Sunday, Race 1… as I worked my way around the first lap Sherman felt alive again! The new set-up worked and we had great pace. The key then was not to waste it so my sole intention for the race was to stay out of trouble and survive but as I got back up to Ingram he got a bit over excited and started tapping me. Eventually we came side by side to turn 3 and I cocked up! I was concentrating on him and missed the fact that the guys in front had backed up and I very clumsily slid in to the side of Marc Hynes. I really hate situations like this, I really like Marc and I feel terrible that I made such a mess of his race, but no amount of apologising can make it better. I've been taken out plenty of times myself this year, it’s a very unfortunate part of the sport and accidents happen sometimes. Sorry dude L
Anyway, we survived to finish 12th and tweaked the new set-up for race 2. This time the gaps opened up and with a bit of luck, Karma and rubbing we were through the pack and able to stretch Sherman’s legs and he was on rails! We lost out to Andy (Jordan) on the soft tyres but they looked good so that boded well for race 3 when we would be running them. Other than that we picked cars off and to finish P5 was a great achievement for us.
Hunter, the world’s unluckiest man, had a clutch failure in qualifying so had to start race 1 dead last. He drove brilliantly to claim P14 in race 1 and then to get P10 in race 2 was incredible work for a rookie in a small privateer team like ours and meant that it was our first double top ten of the year. But his greatest achievement of the weekend… Putting me on the front row by drawing 6 for the reverse grid! Thanks dude, you’re a legend!
Right, race 3, firstly I really feel for Hunter. He had great pace all weekend and was looking good to move further in to the top 10 but he foolishly attacked the front bumper of the works Honda with his back bumper, ending Gordon’s championship challenge and both their races…
For me, well I was lucky to have such a fantastic opportunity but had a lot of work to do and didn’t know how my tyres would hang on… The pressure was on! Once again though my dream team gave me a fantastic car and I set about going fast enough to stay ahead of Menu, but slow enough to ensure they lasted the whole race. The last few laps I was 100% driving as hard as I could, I had no grip left at all but I had enough to stay ahead and WOW what a feeling! I thought nothing could compare to that first win 12 months ago but this was definitely on a par. The grid is incredible this year, it’s world class and the BTCC is now the most competitive championship that I can think of in the world. I was on the podium with one of my idols Alain Menu and we managed to beat six other champions and manufacturer-backed teams and we did it all as a family run team from a shed in Pershore with half the staff of most teams…
Again the response was humbling, the cheers and applause we get continues to humble me, our fans keep all of us in the team motivated and I can’t tell you how grateful I am to have that incredible support. Heaven knows when I’ll finish responding to everyone on social media! A big shout out has to go to Exocet and DUO – we are truly very lucky to have such great sponsors who have become great friends.
There are so many people to thank and every single fan, sponsor, team member, guest or supporter of any kind can take satisfaction from this achievement. We wouldn’t be here without every one of you.
Anyway, I've got to head off to the studio now for Tin Top Tuesday. If you haven’t tuned in yet to BTCC pit lane commentator Alan Hyde’s awesome online radio show (see the big sticker on the back of Sherman) you should because it brings the fans just that bit closer to the BTCC drivers and we all love it. 8.00pm Tuesday nights after each race weekend – just go to www.tintoptuesday.com and click on Listen. You won’t regret it.