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RD.4 - Croft

Following on from a challenging and frustrating weekend at Oulton Park, I was looking to bounce back at Croft, a circuit that I’d never even seen before turning up to park the camper van on Thursday night! When venturing out onto the track on Friday morning, I utilised the time I’d had on the Simulator with APSM to good effect and got into a rhythm with the track instantly. Come the end of Friday’s testing I felt I knew where the time was to set a competent qualifying lap good enough for the first couple of rows on the grid.

A factor once again this season was the weather. Rather than rain and Donington or Brands Hatch, the weather this weekend was set to be really hot and in a car without ventilation or windows, the races would would push all us drivers to the limit in terms of physical fitness.

Saturday rolled around and under overcast, but by no means cooler skies, qualifying took place and on my very first lap, I set a time good enough for pole position by just a couple of hundredths and despite setting better sectors in the following 2 laps, my first flier was enough to claim my first pole position in car racing, and all of this at a track I’d only known for a day!

Race 1:

Lining up on pole position later on that day was daunting if I’m honest. My starts this year hadn’t been amazing by any means and as a result, I couldn’t help but look in the mirrors all the way to the start line. Lights out, and a mediocre start dropped me into 2nd place but I held on to P2 for the following 2 laps. I was looking in my mirrors too much and as a result couldn’t work on progressing towards the leader, more towards defending from P3. At the start of lap 3 I went too deep into turn 1, losing a place and getting dirt on my tyres and then to add insult to injury, down towards turn 5 on the same lap, a huge lockup on my dirty tyres cost me even more time and destroyed the front left tyre on my car. I soldiered on in P5 for the time being, made up a place to P4 as well, but I couldn’t advance any more with my ruined tyre so finished in the same place.

Race 2:

For race 2, I’d be starting 3rd due to a grid penalty to one of my rivals ahead. My start was good, and I held P3 for the first lap, but it had come at a cost. Going through the fast, right-left chicane on lap 1, unsighted, I clipped the tyre wall with my front left tyre and that put the tracking out immediately hindering my race. My pace wasn’t up to the standard of the front two, who broke away as I defended my podium place with a broken car. It wasn’t easy, and I had to use all of the tyre life up to hold onto it but to my relief I was able to defend well from the two cars behind and claim my second podium of the year! I still consider it a huge achievement to hold onto that place with my car in the state that it was in. it wasn’t easy by any stretch of the imagination, but it was well deserved!

Race 3:

Race 3 was later on Sunday and with an even higher track temperature, I’d really struggle to hold onto my reverse grid P2 starting slot. Because I had to push the car as hard as I did in race 2, I’d used up all of my tyre life and because of this, I had no grip to fight with. Straight off the start I knew this wasn’t a race of fighting for position, more a race of don’t crash the car. Short shifting under acceleration and being really smooth with the car led me to a P7 finish with 2 of my 4 tyres down to the canvas. Not ideal and nor an amazing way to end an overall positive weekend. I know that if I hadn’t have made those mistakes in races 1 and 2, I’d have finished on the podium in race 1 and would’ve won race 2 so it is a bit disappointing to think of what could’ve been but it’s important to pick myself up and keep on progressing onto Snetterton!

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