BRITISH GT 2020
RD.6 SILVERSTONE 500
Entering the final round of the 2020 British GT championship, I was looking forward to having the chance to end this season on a high. It’d been a hard-fought season and there’ve been a lot of obstacles to overcome but finishing the season with a strong performance was very important to me. In addition to this weekend being the season finale, there were an extra 9 entries alone in my class for this round with 20 GT3 cars all competing for the top spot on Sunday. One of the entries was a particular target for me as another McLaren was being driven this round by 2009 Formula 1 world champion Jenson Button, oh and did I mention that the entire race was being played live on Sky Sports F1 too? Yeah, that was in my mind aswell.
As practice got underway on Saturday morning, the car balance felt good and our long run pace was strong, but the car was really down on power and we were right down at the bottom of the speed traps. There was definitely more time in the car and we all knew it. But we had to soldier on with what we had been given and do the best job we could do and when I was rolling out of the pitlane for Qualifying, I knew even the best lap wouldn’t be good enough for pole. When you’re 7mph down on every straight, you can drive the car as well as you want but we’d still lose around a second in lap time purely on straights and there was nothing we could do about it. I had a mountain to climb and I was going to give it my all but the car happened to develop an electrical issue on the out lap and I was forced to miss a good chunk of the session sitting stationary on the back straight trying to fix it from within the cockpit. I eventually got going but my tyres had lost all their temperature and I wasn’t able to get it back in time, so I’d have to make do with 9th in my session. Once Dean had finished his qualifying run, we’d be starting the 3 hour race on Sunday from a very average 14th position. We weren’t expecting to be challenging for pole but to be down in 14th was a big disappointment and we’d have to race hard to come back on Sunday. To put a positive on it though, the Button car was only 17th so always nice to be ahead of your target!
As the lights went out my start was really good, making up 3 places in turn 1 alone before gaining another through the next sequence of corners. An early safety car halted my progress though and where as most cars dived for the pits to get one of their three mandatory pit stops out of the way, I was left out by the team to lose vital track position and all the places I’d made up at the start. When I was eventually called in, we’d emerge in last place over a minute behind the race leaders. Dean cracked on and was able to catch up to the pack ahead during his stint before I was to get back in for my final hour of the season. Getting in the car when we were 15th overall, I pushed hard and was immediately quickest on track. I knew our long run pace was good from Saturday testing and I was pushing to the limit to gain as many places as I could before handing back to Dean for the final stint of the race. In my hour, I made 8 on-track overtakes whilst two other retirements from our competitors helped me bring the car back into the pits for our final pit stop in 5th place. Dean’s job was simple as we had a huge lead to the cars behind and not a lot in reach in front of us. He circulated safely and brought the car home for a very strong 5th place finish come the chequered flag.
I drove a really good race at Silverstone, and had our strategy been better, I am confident we could’ve ended on a podium if not gone even better than that. But that brought a close to my 2020 racing season. It’s been a very tough year and I’ve learnt an awful lot about myself and the sport in the process. They say what doesn’t kill you makes you stronger, so by rights next year should be very, very exciting!
I would like to say a huge thank you to everyone who has got behind me this year. My family, friends, and all my amazing sponsors, especially my main sponsors Cambridge & Counties Bank. Now starts the contract chase over the winter and I’m very excited to see what 2021 will bring for me.