GINETTA GT4 SUPERCUP 2018
RD.8 - Brands Hatch GP
The final round of the 2018 Ginetta GT4 Supercup returned to Brands Hatch. The difference this time is that we would be on the full, Grand Prix layout which is one of the most well-regarded race tracks in the continent. It too, was a track I've never driven before so entering the weekend, it was important to spend the given testing time on Friday to learn how the track can be driven. The GP layout was a real driver's track I'd been told by the team so I was eager to get out on track and drive it. I was able to find a good setup on the Friday to a point where I'd have been happy with a top 3 finish in qualifying on Saturday morning.
Saturday arrived, and the weather was still sunny and warm for a beautiful late-September race meeting. As the day got underway, Supercup was the first class to qualify and would be the first cars on track for the day. Because the track would be really cold to begin with, I bided my time and waited in the pits until the track temperature rose and the times began to tumble. I left the pits with around 10 minutes in the session to go, enough for 3 or 4 timed laps. Once I found clear air, I settled into a rhythm and fell in love with the track even more. The car drove like a dream and I could carry so much corner speed. It felt great, so great in fact that by the end of the session, I was sitting on pole comfortably, a full 1.4 seconds faster than the current lap record that had be set this time the year before. That's where I'd stay until the end of the session. Unfortunately, around an hour after qualifying, I learnt that I had been demoted to P2, as another competitor who had a lap taken down for track limits, had gotten their lap reinstated meaning they would start pole. This annoyed me. I felt cheated of a pole and having done all the celebrating already, now being shown anything other than pole felt like a loss regardless of aiming for a top 3.
Later on that day was the first race of the weekend and lining up P2, I was prepared to grit my teeth and fight to get that illusive first win. Lights out and a good start left me alongside the leader into turn 1. I was on the outside so it was unlikely I'd be able to take the lead. I had to slot back into 2nd and for the rest of the race, consolidated my 2nd place from the cars behind, but I could never get close enough with the dirty air to make a challenge for the lead. I crossed the line in P2 and had got podiums in all the past 3 races. It felt nice to be on the podium, of course, but it also felt a bit hollow. I know that if I'd have started pole I'd have won that race and that for me, made it feel a bit disappointing despite having driven a strong race.
Starting P2 for race two, I was determined to make up for the win that went begging in race 1. Unfortunately, I made a poor start and lost a place, falling to P3. I got my head down and pushed on, setting the eventual fastest race lap on lap 2. However, as the top 4 bunched up, the leader made a mistake and I followed him, locked up and ran a bit wide. when exiting the corner, the car in 4th must have seen his opportunity to grab a podium, planted his foot, but instead of making a challenge for my P3, he drove straight into the side of my car, damaging my steering but I kept my foot in and held onto my P3. It later emerged that the car who drove into me, pulled his front left tyre off the rim, so had to pit. This left me with an easy drive to another podium. My car didn't drive as well but I had such a big gap behind me I could cruise round and bring the car home for another podium.
For the final race of my first season in GT4 Supecup, I was starting a reverse grid P4 with the top 3 ahead, all theoretically slower than me. It was my last chance to get that win and I was determined to make this one the one! Lights out and I made a good start, holding P4 and looking on the attack into turn 1 and 2. I got a run out of turn 1 and was up the inside into turn 2 when the car on the outside, for some reason, seemed to turn into my left rear corner and shatterred my rim. I lost all tyre pressure in the left rear and slid out in the middle of turn 2. The pack streamed past as I struggled back to the pits and just like that, any chance of a strong result was gone. I fell down to stone dead last, one lap behind everyone. All I could do from now was get my head down and have some fun cutting through the pack. 13 laps later, and having passed the majority of the field, I crossed the line a solid P6 in class, not bad for being a lap down when I could start racing properly.
To summarise this season, I'd have to say it was great to bounce back after a poor season by my standards last season to emerge again at the front of the field. My driving improved a lot as the season went on, my racecraft more than my speed. I can't thank the guys at Century Motorsport enough for all their help this year.
As the season ends, the final stats are;
Fastest laps: 2
Best race finish: 2nd
Championship position: 4th