From Rookie to Racer: Part 2
Silverstone, Brands Hatch and an invitational at Donington Park were up next
Snetterton ended on a high and it was onto Silverstone next. I was becoming more capable in attacking and defending after the practice I had in making up places after poor starts! This gave me the confidence to push the car further to its limits.
Silverstone – A very big track for a very small car
After some lacklustre qualifying I was going to start 7th for the first race. I finally managed a good start carrying good speed into the first corner and overtaking 6th. Keeping up with 5th allowed me the opportunity to pass him at the end of the hanger straight. The leading pack was fighting it out amongst themselves helping me to stay with them. One car spun at the first corner gifting me 4th, but credit to him he eventually took his place back several laps later.
Ginetta Train. Photo: Jakob Ebrey
My racing up until the second race was continuous progress, until I experienced a race not go my way. A great start had me nearly side by side with 3rd who pushed me out onto the grass into the first corner, but pushing hard to keep up led me to spin out coming out of Becketts. In last place I had a lot of work to do but unfortunately I couldn’t remain composed. Avoiding a spinning driver ahead, I came off the track hitting a Pirelli advertising board and spinning out again. Luckily the board was only made of foam. Making up places, I aggressively went on the inside of 7th into the first corner but spun out again when I couldn’t control the car on exit of the corner. I finished the race 9th. The result could have been better if I had stuck to my laid back driving style!
The trick is to always keep smiling
Brands Hatch – making my TV and online debut
In the weeks leading up to the Brands Hatch I was questioning whether I would continue to take part next season. The big investment, of time too, needed for me to compete for a podium place was weighing heavy on my mind. I didn’t go for the Friday test day and, so, qualifying would be my first time back in the car after two months. To add the pressure, the track was wet. To my surprise, I couldn’t have enjoyed myself more. The car felt so comfortable in the tricky conditions, sliding out a little coming out of corners but I had so much fun controlling it. At one point I was in 3rd place until the track started to dry out…I ended up qualifying 5th.
I had a great start in the first race but a coming together of the leaders caused one of them to spin out in front of me, which meant I had to take evasive action losing places. Fighting back and being lucky with a few competitors losing control ahead, I finished 5th.
The second race to our surprise was filmed for TV and the internet as a support race for the British GT and Mini Challenge. Little did I know, I was in the quartet that would provide nearly all the action for the cameras. It was fantastic racing; constant defending and attacking to try and clinch 5th but, in the end I settled for 6th. After the weekend, as the championship came to a close, I knew I had to continue my motorsport journey. Link below for the full race and a little snippet of the footage:
A lap of action
Donington Park – Gatecrashing the GRDC+ finale
I was set on racing next year so I thought it would be great to get some extra practice at the end of the season. We were invited to participate in the final race weekend of the GRDC+ championship at Donington Park where the cars were kept the same, except for this race we were allowed to upgrade to sticky tyres, better shocks as well as full flexibility with the car setup. The tyres and shocks were on, the car was rebalanced and the test day showed me what the car could do. To add to the drama, I would be competing against 31 other drivers in 3 races over the weekend.
Rubbing shoulders with the class above. Photo: Jakob Ebrey
These races were a new experience; the standard of racing was much higher, and there was very close racing across the entire grid. I qualified 14th and finished the first race in 14th. The second race was much more aggressive, and, unfortunately I ran into the back of another competitor mid race as a number of cars bunched up into the final hairpin. For the remainder of the race my steering was offset, but I managed to finish 14th again. In the last race, I built up a great rhythm but the car felt like it was feeling the damage from race 2; it became less comfortable under braking as the race progressed. Eventually losing control in a hairpin, I managed to recover but lost places whilst trying to wrestle the car back under control and finished 17th.
I am excited for next season in which I will be moving up a level to race in the Ginetta G40 Cup with SVG Motorsport as my team. The championship is made up of six race weekends including, no doubt an unforgettable experience, racing at Spa in Belgium. I will be practicing on tracks across the UK until next Easter, and I hope you will continue following my journey. If you would like to get involved as a spectator or sponsor, please do get in touch.
Photo Jakob Ebrey