GINETTA GT4 SUPERCUP 2018
RD.2 - Donington Park
Following off the back of Round 1 at Brands Hatch, I arrived at Donington on Thursday for testing with high expectations, hoping that I could transfer my one-lap pace into race results. In the dry running on Thursday I had a couple of changes to make to the car but felt as though the pace was there in the dry given a few driving corrections. However, the warm weather wasn’t set to last into Saturday after a day’s rest on Friday. True enough, a chilly, rainy day greeted me as I woke up on Saturday and presented me with a new challenge; I’d never driven Donington Park in the wet and the only practice I’d had was in the simulator on Friday. Regardless I ventured out for qualifying and all my nerves disappeared. The car and balance felt amazing. It filled me with confidence to throw the car into a corner and hold the slide if I pushed slightly over the limit. The pace was clear, and I was getting faster with every lap and racked up my second front row in as many race meetings and would line up 2nd for race 1 later on Saturday.
Starting 2nd, I made a solid start but dropped a place and left turn one in 3rd place. My pace was quick, but I didn’t want to get involved in a battle with the car ahead as that’d back us both up into the 4th placed car and I desperately wanted a podium finish. I held station in 3rdand was coming under increasing pressure from P4 but I used my previously acquired experience from karting to good effect and held off the advances of 4th and for the first time in car racing, and my first time for over a year and a half, I finished an amazing P3 in my 4th ever GT4 Supercup race. Words couldn’t describe the euphoria I felt stepping up onto the podium to the applause of the spectators and it’ll be a moment I will never forget for the rest of my life. I ended Saturday floating on a cloud overjoyed by the day’s success, but I knew when Sunday arrived I’d have to do it all over again. Twice.
Sunday presented dry, but still bone-chillingly cold weather and considering everyone would be starting on brand-new slick tyres following on from Saturday’s wet qualifying, simply getting the tyres into their operating window would be a struggle and would require an absurd amount of tyre warming by me. I did what I needed to, the tyres were hot and when the lights went out, a great start saw me challenging for the lead into turn one but being pinched on the apex saw me fall to 4th. Following on from this, dropping two wheels on the wet mud exiting the old hairpin lead to me losing 2 more places down to 6th! I gathered my composure, regained 5th the same place next lap and set off after the pack ahead. I was pushing hard. Very hard. Too hard in my pursuit of the cars ahead and with just a handful of laps to go, I made a small mistake entering the old hairpin, the fastest corner on the track and slid wide onto the grass. However, the mud I ran over for some reason, destroyed the front of my car and broke the steering rack meaning I had no steering at all! I had no control over the car and was forced to retire on the spot. A massive shame following on from Saturday and it left the car with a huge amount of damage to be repaired before race 3 later that day.
After race 2, I had plenty of time to collect myself and my thoughts following on from my obvious disappointment and frustration with myself. I took a while to look at the data and talk to my team about what I could have potentially done differently. Come race 3, the final race of the weekend, I had planned the race ahead and was pumped up ready for the fight I’d have.
As the lights went out, my start was quick, and I made good ground in the first few corners of the race having started last. I got stuck in with a very fun and close battle for the first half of the race and although enjoyable, I was being heavily held up and was getting frustrated getting involved in a battle I should have been ahead of. However, I was persistent and set up an overtake on the way to the last chicane. I was drawing alongside of the car I was passing when unfortunately, he cut across my nose and did damage to my front splitter and bumper. This cost me around 4 tenths of pace per-lap and curtailed my fight through the field early. In my frustration I started to push the car harder and harder as I began to fall back from the battle and when you try and push the car’s limits, you are more likely to make mistakes and true to that, with just a few laps to go I went half a car width’s wide through the Old Hairpin and almost a carbon copy of race 2, a very small, and innocent mistake was punished unfairly by the edge of the track and the grass there once again, destroyed the front of my car and caused my 2nd DNF of the weekend.
To round up Round 2 of the 2018 Ginetta GT4 Supercup, it was a positive weekend in my eyes and memory. My last podium was back in August 2016 when I finished 3rd in the penultimate round of the Super One Junior X30 Championship; a year that saw me finish 2nd in the championship come season’s end. It was a big struggle getting back to the front over last year in GT5, and the very start of this year but now I’m there, I feel like these podium’s will be coming thick and fast from now on! Room for optimism in my mind!