Brands Hatch Festival Qualifying – P2
Qualifying for the Brands Hatch Festival is always a hectic affair and this year was no different. With dark clouds rolling in over the track as my heat left pit lane to begin qualifying I knew the early laps would count with the chance of rain seeming incredibly high. 4 laps into the session the heavens opened and the track soon became un-drivable. Luckily for me my pace in the early laps had secured me 2nd position on 0.02 from Pole. I was very happy with the result as it set us up nicely going into Race 1 of the weekend to really attack from the front
Heat Race – P4
Initially the race was going perfectly for me as I took the lead around the outside of turn 1 and pulled away from the chasing pack by around 1.5 seconds and felt like i still had more speed in reserve if they began to close the gap. Unfortunately this lead was short lived as I quickly caught back markers, on the run into the last corner the slower car stayed to the inside, i naturally took the wide line to ensure I was passed before we got to the corner and to give the other car as much room as possible. Just as I began to run side by side with the lapped car he edged over to the left forcing me to avoid contact by running even wider onto the damp part of the track, this allowed the 2nd place driver to squeeze through and take the lead. 2 laps later the same thing happened behind another lapped car and i dropped back to 4th place. I was gutted to lose out on what had seemed an easy heat win in this way but also thankful I had managed to still hold onto 4th place.
Semi Final – DNF
My 4th place finish in the heat race meant i was starting off of P8 in Semi Final 1 on Sunday morning. This race was hard core, every lap we were running 2 wide, constantly looking for opportunities to make up a place. I was unfortunate on the safety car restart as the car infornt jumped out of 3rd gear i took avoiding action and in doing so lost out on 2 places and fell to 9th place, I was quickly back up to 8th squeezing down the inside into Paddock Hill bend. The chaos from before was still happening in front off me as I sat right on the gearbox of the car ahead but crucially keeping my nose clean waiting on a slight mistake to make my move, An opportunity presented itself on the run to turn 2 as I got alongside the 8th place car, however they kept turning right down a straight bit of road and by this point our wheels were interlocked making it impossible for me to back out. Seconds later I was turned into the wall on the right side of the track and my race was over with heavy damage to the front and side of my car.
To end the weekend like this was so hard to take, I felt that the pace i had shown both in testing and in the races proved I would have been right in the mix in the final, if only lady luck was on our side.
Walter Hayes Trophy
Qualifying – P4
A drying track in qualifying for my heat made for a frantic last 3 laps, with 2 laps left in the session I jumped to P2 only 0.1 from pole. Traffic on the last 2 laps didn’t allow me to improve and with the track getting ever faster ultimately meant I dropped back to P4 in the dying seconds of the session. I was confident that given clear laps at the end I could have contested for pole position as the car felt great to drive in the damp conditions.
Heat Race – P6
With the pit wall blocking the sun on the inside line on the grid it meant all even side starters where at a huge disadvantage. This is ultimately what cost me a chance to mix it at the front of my heat. A dreadful start dropped me to 10th by turn 1 and the remainder of the race was spent fighting my way back to the front. In the process of fighting to the front I was matching the leaders times early on but after catching up to the battle for 4th place with ease all I could do was watch as the circuit was still damp offline which didn’t allow me to capitalise on the battle in front and move up the order in the dying laps.
Semi Final – DNF
The semi final draw put me P16 on the grid, I knew starting back here it would be a challenge to get back to the front but it was a challenge I welcomed and looked forward to. The opening 2 laps of the race were perfect as I carved my way passed 5 cars and set about catching the group of cars in front. A red flag briefly halted the race but gave me another opportunity to capitalise on any first lap wheel banging in front. A great restart to the race allowed me to gain another 3 places in the opening lap alone, 8 passes in 7 laps was certainly the highlight of the weekend. With me now on the tail of the 8 car scrap for the lead I knew a top 5 finish was possible, one lap later however it all came to an abrupt end. I ran 2 wide into Brooklands and moved up to P7, when we swung right into Luffield I made sure to leave more than a cars width on the inside to ensure the car behind would have more than enough room to make the corner, this however didnt happen as he locked up and understeered into my car, sending me backwards off the road and onto the wet grass. The car would not restart and all my hard work in the early laps was undone by another incident I could not have avoided.
To end the Walter Hayes Trophy in this way was tough to take as the pace and race craft I had shown in the Semi Final proved I deserved a chance to run at the front in the final.
I’d like to take this opportunity to thank my team, sponsors, family and everyone who has supported me this season! The hard work starts now for 2018.