BRITISH GT 2022
RD.1 OULTON PARK
The first round of the season rolled around and it was time for the most difficult track of the entire season, Oulton Park. Having never driven the car before, I wasn’t feeling the most confident about tackling the most difficult circuit on the calendar in an unfamiliar car, but the brand new M4 GT3 was strong from the word go. Quickly I was able to build my confidence in the car and set about putting in strong laptimes to match my competitors. The car didn’t miss a beat mechanically and the team put in a real effort to help both myself and Betty feel comfortable in the car.
Through practice it became apparent Betty wasn’t as comfortable in the car as I was, so it became more of a development for her as I sacrificed my seat time to help her get up to speed. Regardless of the lack of practice time, I thought the car and I were more of capable of being right up at the sharp end, especially considering on 110kg of fuel I was less than 1.5 seconds off of the eventual pole time. When you consider 3 kilograms is worth around half a tenth in laptime, my pace would’ve been comfortably in the top 3 in qualifying. Unfortunately though I never got the chance to show my speed as in the closing stages of second practice Betty had an off at the bottom of cascades and damaged the splitter and front bumper. This normally wouldn’t be a massive issue as teams usually carry spares of all the bodywork. The issue with this was that the car being as box fresh as it was, the team hadn’t been able to stockpile a spares list for the car so we didn’t have a spare bumper or splitter to bolt on. This curtailed our day early and denied us the chance to show our one lap pace. At this point the weekend as a whole was hanging in the balance as without any spare bodywork we wouldn’t be able to turn out a race car on Easter Monday.
The saving grace was that due to this being the Easter weekend, the team had the chance to go and get replacement parts from the BMW factory. A 28 hour drive later and we had a brand new front end on the car. It was my responsibility to shake it down and make sure the car was working as it should be. The car felt fine so Betty jumped back in to run some more laps before another small mistake put further damage on the car. Nothing was completely destroyed but we had to sit out Race 1 to repair the car. We were just in time to have the car put back together for Race 2, but starting from the pit lane due to not taking part in qualifying. I was the one to start race 2 and immediately started making up ground, overtaking 3 GT3s before completing the first lap before picking off 1 other in the next few laps. Oulton Park then decided to throw a curveball at us all by arranging a little rain shower. The rain came down and the grip fell away. I however felt comfortable to brave the conditions and stay out on slicks and over the next couple of laps I made up another 3 places. The marshalls then threw a red flag due to a heavy crash at the start of sector 3. When the red flag came I had gone from a pitlane start to leading my sub-class! Unfortunately the red flag pushed us back a few places and with Betty having not driven in the rain, we weren’t able to make up any more places but we finished one of the most challenging weekends I’d ever been a part of knowing the car had potential and speed, and these are the building blocks that we can build this season off of.
As always, a massive thanks has to go out to all my amazing sponsors and my supporters. This weekend on face value wasn’t the best but for a first weekend I can be proud of my own personal performance and hopefully in future weekends we can push on and chase some strong results.