BRITISH GT 2019
RD.1 OULTON PARK
As the first race weekend of the drew nearer, I was ready and prepared to enter battle at Oulton Park on the Easter Weekend. Testing had gone well, and I was feeling comfortable in the car ahead of the weekend. Throughout testing on the Friday however, the balance of the car was not what I was used to and oddly, every member of the team, regardless of what class they were in struggled with similar handling issues to our car. Our one-lap pace wasn’t really where we expected it either and after qualifying, a near-enough perfect lap by me was only good enough for 9th place in the Pro qualifying session and my teammate, Andrew was only able to get the car into P12 in the Am qualifying session. It was a bit of a shock for us really as we’d have expected to be much more competitive on one-lap pace than we actually were. However, we’d take the day off on Easter Sunday to regroup, and give it our all in the two races on the Monday.
Monday rolled around and Andrew would be starting the car from his 12th position for race 1, before I was to take over the car at the half way point. Andrew’s start was good, and he gained two places in the first lap to run P10 in GT4 before an early safety car curtailed his charge. From then on, Andrew consolidated his P10 before handing the car over to me in the pit stops. Our driver change was slick, and I left the pits raring to get out on track. However, on pit exit I came across a Pro GT3 Aston who annoyingly, stalled twice and then didn’t take the pit limiter off on pit-exit costing me at least6 or 7 seconds of precious time. I left the pits behind one of the GT4 Aston-Martins which annoyed me further as if I hadn’t been held up in the pit-lane, I would have emerged in clear air to push on and catch the 5-car train ahead. Unfortunately, I then had to spend around 7 or 8 laps dispatching of said Aston but once I got into clear air I was able to stretch my legs and at the rate I caught the 5 GT4 cars ahead, I am convinced that if I hadn’t been held up, I’d have had time to pass all of them and finish the race a remarkable P4 in GT4 Silver. However, I ran out of laps and had to make do with a mediocre P8 in class. Not a bad result all things considered, but a case of “what could’ve been”.
Race 2 was later on Monday and this time, I was starting the car in P9 GT4 and P6 in GT4 Silver. My start was good and by the end of lap 2, I was up to P7 GT4 and P5 GT4 Silver and I knew three of the cars ahead had to serve pit-stop success penalties from the previous race. If I stayed close to them, I’d be able to leapfrog them in the pistops and Andrew would rejoin P2 in GT4 Silver and P3 in GT4 overall. However, again, fortune wasn’t on my side. On my in lap, exiting the second chicane around half way around the lap, I had a sudden drop in power and the throttle went numb. I crawled back to the pits and handed the car over to Andrew, but a faultless stint on my behalf yielded no reward as we had to keep the car in the pits for several extra minutes to locate the issue, which was a turbo problem. Once we got it fixed, Andrew re-joined the race, but last in class and off of the lead lap. What a shame.
However, I really can’t be too upset with my first weekend of the 2019 British GT Championship. Andrew and I battled with the balance of the car throughout testing but when it came to the races, we both kept our noses clean and brought home points in the first race and were looking set for a podium in race 2 until a mechanical issue ruled us out. It’s a shame to miss out on such a strong result first time out, but this is as good as the competition gets in the UK, and to be in the mix for podiums at a track we struggled at merely gives us confidence that we can flourish through the rest of the races which suit the car more! As always, thanks to all my sponsors, especially my main sponsor Cambridge & Counties Bank. I can’t wait for the next race at Snetterton where we’ll come back stronger than ever!