2018 National Championship Round 5
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British Championship Round 5 – Castle Combe
This qualifying session was undoubtably my best of the year, every lap I improved and sat on provisional pole at the halfway point of the session. Castle Combe is a high speed circuit so a slipstream is essential for setting a quick time, in the closing moments of the session I dropped back into a queue of cars in search of a tow. I managed to pull of an almost perfect last lap to break the lap record by over 2 tenths! only to have my new lap record beaten seconds later by Niall Murray as he went to the top of the times by a tiny margin of 0.093’s.
Race 1; P2
A fantastic start and opening few corners allowed me to challenge for the lead going into Tower bend, the move never quite came of as I settled back into line in 2nd place. Over the next few laps I sat right on the race leaders gearbox as we pulled away from the rest of the field. By the closing stages of the race the gap we had pulled over the rest of the cars was over 6 seconds which highlights just how quick the pace at the front had been. On the last lap I began to gain on the race leader and forced him into a mistake at the first chicane, this brought me right back onto his tail as we entered the final few corners. I challenged for the lead into the final turn but his better exit meant he crossed the line in front by a tiny margin of 0.2’s
Race 2; DNF
After another great start I challenged for the race lead again on the opening lap however in doing so made a slight mistake which dropped me to third along the pit straight. On the next lap I brought down the gap to the top 2 cars considerably and was setting up a pass for second when I made the smallest mistake going into the 2nd high speed chicane. I clipped the inside tyre stack which ripped the wheel from my hands and bent the suspension enough to cause me to retire the car from what was shaping up to be another very competitive drive.
Race 3; P9
The disaster of race 2 meant I started race 3 last, so far back I could hardly see the start lights. The opening laps where very fun moving from last up to inside the top 15. I pulled off some spectacular overtakes to get inside the top 10 within the first half of the race. Unfortunately the top 9 cars had broken away from the main group and it took me a few precious laps to close the gap. Despite running without a slipstream my times where still faster than the leading group as I closed on the top 8. With just under 5 minutes to go I caught the lead pack and began to work my way through up to P7. Unfortunately the 6th place car spun on the last lap in front of me through the chicane and I had to take to the grass to avoid an accident, this dropped me down to 9th and I had no time to recover the lost ground.
Overall it was a solid weekend, to break the lap record in qualifying underlined the speed that I had all weekend and, after the heartbreak of Kirkistown, where I was wiped out of 3rd place in both races, it was a great way to bounce back and reward the team for all their hard work with a 2nd place in race 1. Without the mistake in race 2 I am confident that another podium was on the cards if not more.
Huge thank you as always to my team, sponsors and family for the support across the whole weekend, through the highs and lows.
Oulton Park is next and I already cant wait to get back in the car!
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