BRITISH GT 2020
RD.1 OULTON PARK
I cannot really describe the feeling of entering a race track on race day. Having been deprived of the experience for almost a full year now, British GT was finally back. This year is perhaps the best year ever in the championship’s history for sheer driver quality and the on-track action definitely didn’t disappoint.
It was a first for me too as Oulton Park marked my first race with the newly formed 2Seas Motorsport team and their two new McLaren 720S GT3 race cars. The cars looked great and I knew we’d be able to push for the top positions as the weekend progressed. Throughout Friday practice we worked hard on the setup to allow me and my teammate Dean Macdonald to push without struggling with understeer and front tyre wear and although we had lots of one-lap pace, finishing P2 in the first practice session, our long-run pace was still a bit of a question mark as we were completely burning through our front tyres in just under an hour of track time. We didn’t get a chance to completely negate these issues as we only had 4 hours of track time over the Friday and Saturday before qualifying on Saturday evening.
As the lights turned from red to green for the start of qualifying, I was confident in my single-lap pace and immediately my first and second flying lap put me straight up in provisional Pole Position. However, one my third and final flying lap I was two tenths of a second up in the first sector, but I ran ever so slightly too wide in turn 5 and wasn’t able to improve my lap time. Eventually I’d end up starting Race 1 from 3rd on the grid, just 0.138 seconds off of pole! So close! After Dean’s qualifying, I’d be starting Race 1 from P3 and Dean would be starting Race 2 from P9.
As race day finally rolled around, I was ready for the battles that the day would bring. Starting from 3rd I was determined to worst case scenario, hold my position in to turn 1 and fortunately I completed the first lap in 3rd place keeping close to the leaders and dealing with some pressure from another McLaren behind me. This would last up until the pit stops where unfortunately, Dean and I would get jumped in the pit stops by the McLaren behind us and we fell to 4th throughout the stops. However, Dean was able to get back into P3 and stay there until the end of the race. A podium in the first race of the season, awesome! It wasn’t all smiles though on our side though as the car that jumped us in the pit stops ended up winning the race. Dean and I knew this could’ve and should’ve been us, but a podium was still a good way to start the year, so we were confident to go better in race 2!
As Dean was starting Race 2, I was able to watch the race start and prepare myself to take over the car half way through the race. Dean kept the car clean whilst cars around us fell and was able to hand the car over to me in a good position for me to push on with a new set of tyres for the last stint of the weekend. I set about putting in fast laps immediately and was the fastest car on track for a couple of laps. I was pushing really hard through the slower GT4 class cars to catch the pack ahead and was making up ground really quickly when a GT3 Bentley and a GT4 Aston-Martin collided heavily ahead of me showering the track with debris and spearing themselves across the grass. I could see that their trajectory was heading to cross the track again, so I slowed right down to avoid being caught up in their crash. Sure enough, the two cars slid past ahead of me missing my car and I thought I’d performed some amazing evasive driving to avoid them both when I was suddenly hit by a loose wheel off the Aston-Martin that I hadn’t seen. The wheel broke my car’s left rear rim and really unluckily ended my race on the spot.
It was a shame to end the weekend that way when it looked like we’d be on for a really strong finish to the day but sometimes these oddities happen in racing and hopefully this is the only time we have luck as bad as this throughout the year. Besides, it’s less than two weeks until the next round where I enjoyed a lot of success last year, Donington Park. I can’t wait.
Finally, I’d love to give a massive thank you to all my sponsors, especially my main title sponsors Cambridge & Counties Bank and Classic Car Finance, Their support is the reason I am able to race at this level and I am immensely grateful for their trust in me. Let’s get that win!