Round up of Round 3

It has been a while since my last post and a lot has happened in that time. I have had two more race weekends. I have had additional commitments made by sponsors. Tash and I have even got ourselves a pet unicorn.

On Track Shenanigans

Since my first outing at Silverstone back in March, I found myself at Snetterton in April and travelled back to Northamptonshire in May. Snetterton was preceded by a day of getting used to the car and honing my craft with the help of Brian and the team. I had learned in this weekend that it is incredibly beneficial to get out in the car right before any race weekend. I found myself battling a lot further up the grid this time round. Up the inside, round the outside and ended up in a lofty 29th place. A far cry from finishing 2nd from last in my first ever race in March. The progress from Silverstone to Snetterton was staring at me right in the face; a huge jump in places at the finish line.

The weekend at Silverstone was a disjointed one. There were logistical nightmares and long car journeys leading into the weekend, with minimal sleep, which meant the preparation from my side wasn’t the best. This is what happens when you agree to drive your brother to and from a concert, and covid messes around with plans, delaying the gig by two years, causing a clash in weekend plans! With that in mind, Friday’s testing was always going to be tricky with the predicted weather forecast. I battled heavy rain in the morning as I tried my best to learn about the track. The biggest challenge was overcoming my lack of experience in the wet. It was invaluable spending time driving in the wet, although ultimately making no difference to my racing on Saturday. The testing time on Friday helped me understand where I was mentally as a driver and I certainly walked away from the morning session’s a better driver. As Friday afternoon progressed, the track dried and I was able to really start pushing my boundaries. I was able to really feel like I was making some visible progress and my times started to reflect that. With some video analysis in the evening, I was feeling well prepared for a Saturday of racing. 

Silverstone Race Day

I was trackside bright and early on Saturday morning for what promised to be a hectic day. It was my first ever “one day event” and was unaware of what to expect. All I knew was that it was going to be a lot of racing in a very short space of time. Qualifying got underway in the ordinary fashion. As I let the faster cars file past me and found myself a nice gap I begun to push and start looking for lap times. It was right at the start of only on my second flying lap when I arrived at Copse corner to see a big cloud of dust and a car buried within the tyre barrier. Red flags instantly. We were back into the pits. By the time the stricken car was recovered we’d been notified that the session had been cut short and we would only have 10 minutes to go and set a representative time. And so we set off. 10 minutes was by no means long enough to get into a groove and I found myself struggling for grip but still I qualified 32nd out of 43. This to me demonstrated another big stride forward. Race 1 came around quickly and before long I was lined up on the grid. We set off and I was incredibly reserved through the first number of corners as I tried to avoid the inevitable dramas that would ensue at Maggots and Becketts. There was progress to be made once everything had settled down. I found myself in a bit of a scrap between 3 other racers and we were trading places for a couple of laps. We were just over 10 minutes into the lap when we found ourselves 3 wide heading into Copse corner, Ben (#112) started to slide, I tried to miss him and by taking evasive action ended up backwards in the gravel. With the help of the marshals I was on my way again but I was now about 30 seconds off the car in front and only had 15 or so minutes to go and catch up.

I’d end up failing in my attempts to catch up to the car in front of me on the track, though I reckon just one more lap and I might have had him! Race two started in similar fashion. I was probably too cautious but with the way that my first race had ended it was understandable. I had just decided against committing to anything that seemed remotely threatening. After 2 laps poodling around at the back it was time for me to start making some ground. So I’d worked out where my ideal overtaking spots were and used them to my advantage. Often, when on the Wellington Straight I’d get myself a good slipstream and into the breaking zone for Brooklands I’d complete the move. I made 3 passes like this up the inside. I was also far quicker through Maggots and Becketts than those around me so I was able to get incredibly close to the tail of the guys in front heading onto the Hangar Straight. This is really where my move on the 2nd to last lap started. I got right up close and reeled Ben in. Leading into Village I went up the inside, making sure he couldn’t make a dive on the switch back and I was then defending to the end. I ended up finishing P31 from a starting slot of 37th which I considered a successful 2nd race given the position I was in. It takes a lot of character and mental strength to come back from something as simple as a spin. I can only imagine how difficult it must be to come back from anything more serious than just that but these are the challenges that as a racing driver you overcome and this was just another learning experience for me to add to the story and one that has no doubt made be a better driver and a better person.

In between Snetterton and Silverstone I was able to take the time to speak to Michelle Reilly, our CEO at 6CATS and give a run down of how my season had panned out so far and how the rest of it was poised to take shape. It is clear to me that we are all as excited as each other to see how far this journey will continue. Michelle agreed that 6CATS would continue to support me in order to keep my dream alive and to keep the 6CATS logo firmly present on the car. It is an incredible feeling knowing that I have the full support of Michelle and the team at 6CATS and it has made this transition to racing life so much easier! I cannot thank everyone at 6CATS enough for their ongoing support of this incredible story.

Off Track Shenanigans

And lastly, there has been some further news in the off track department. I have found myself a mascot. Fluffy the unicorn has been making an impression around the paddock as he has been adapting to life in the paddock. He has had a great time so far joining us on road trips up and down the country, to and from different race tracks now. Tash and I are both excited to continue Fluffy’s little adventure throughout the rest of this season and beyond.

My attention is now fully focused on Brands Hatch and maximising my home advantage there. I cannot wait to see so many familiar faces and get the weekend started in style!

Silverstone: Debut Weekend

I can’t thank the team at 6CATS International enough for their support. 6CATS provided me the financial and logistical support necessary to make this debut weekend for me possible. It also enable it to be as big a success as it possible could be. 

The weekend itself was a mixed bag. I had a shocker in qualifying. Somehow, on my 3rd lap I managed to lose the rear of the car. As I tried to correct it I ended up spinning in the opposite direction and ended up very well planted in the gravel. Embarrassing. Upsetting. Confidence destroying. Some of the only ways I can describe how I felt in that moment. Yet with only two full laps completed I still did not qualify last. Whilst I may have been clutching at straws in order to find a positive, it was a positive nonetheless. There was little time for me to worry about the woes of qualifying as the race was quickly upon us. The team had managed to remove the gravel (there was shed loads) and get the car ready for the race. This was it. My first ever race. There was no real expectation except for that I placed upon my own shoulders. 

A poor start meant that I immediately fell to the back of the pack. I found myself stuck behind the chap in front and I was incredibly keen to try and make a pass on him. Finally I was able to follow him closely before then striking on the Sir Lewis Hamilton Straight. Once I’d overtaken him I was largely in a race of my own. My pace was quick enough to create a gap to the new back marker, but nowhere near quick enough to catch the cars in front. I really was caught in no man’s land. Having eventually been lapped myself the chequered flag was waved and that marked the end of my day. It was hugely disappointing as I knew I was capable of so much more. I was incredibly frustrated with my days performance. Ask the family, they’d probably agree that I was poor conversation on the Saturday night whilst eating dinner as I beat myself up about what might have been.

 

I finished race one in P36 by virtue pf the fact that there were a number of non-finishers. This meant I started 36th on the grid for race two. There were some incredibly quick drivers lined up behind me. A decent launch allowed me to hold a pretty good positions heading into turn one. In an attempt to remove myself from any ensuing danger I was very early onto the brakes when heading into Village which dropped me backwards slightly. I found myself where I was battling with the black car, 711. We exchanged positions plenty with audacious moves into the Vale Chicane and into Abbey. He did end up pulling off and that solidified my position. I had made some excellent progress though from my first race on the Saturday to the Sunday. I was 4 seconds faster on my fastest laps which was an immense step to take. 

My final race of the weekend was another one I found to be incredibly entertaining from my position. Car 711 was my marker again but as the race wore on, he started to pull a gap on my car. It was frustrating as I had hoped I’d be able to perform a little more consistently than I did throughout the race. As I lost sight of him I was quickly checking my mirrors. I managed to finish the race 34th which was my highest finish of the weekend and kept many other cars behind me. 

It was a great weekend and one that I will never forget. I am well aware there is so much more for me to improve on. With the help of the rest of the team I know exactly where it is I need to improve. Next time out, we are at Snetterton. A familiar circuit for me and I can’t wait to get started all over again.