Apr 2012

British GT Oulton Park


Pic: Jakob Ebrey

In my two years of racing to date, I’ve never raced in such difficult conditions, so to come away with two wins is fantastic! Before practice started on Saturday morning we were told by the organisers that my driver grading had been upgraded to silver and as a result we had to carry 55kg more ballast than expected. In spite of this we were quickest in the damp Practice 1 but only by a few tenths from the Lotus Evora of Phil Glew. The second session was dry and team mate Warren Hughes was again quickest but towards the end of his stint, the car started cutting out. He got the car back to the pits and handed over to me. After a once over, the car fired and off I went. Approaching Knickerbrook the engine died and wouldn’t restart, so that was the end of the session for us. The WFR guys tracked the issue down to an electrical problem which was remedied after a lot of work and I headed out for qualifying without any dry laps under my belt. I worked down to a time good enough for pole by 2.5 seconds in my session, which was a nice start to the season! Warren managed third in his session, just over a tenth from pole which was a great effort considering the extra ballast.
We arrived at the track on race day and it was clear that we were in for a wet day. We hadn’t done any running to speak of in the wet and with new Avon rubber, setup was going to involve some guesswork. With weather like it was, the most important factor was to keep it on the track and take it from there. The spray on the opening lap was unlike anything I’ve had to deal with before and braking points were difficult to pick out. I settled down and had a gap of 9 seconds to the next GT4 car at the end of lap 2 so concentrated on keeping it tidy and getting into a rhythm. A safety car came out on lap 10 by which time the gap was about 20 seconds. For once the safety car worked for me and picked up the rest of the GT4 pack along with the overall leaders so I was able to stretch the gap further. I handed over to Warren with a comfortable lead and he did a great job staying out of trouble and brought the car home for a win.

The conditions for race two were worse than the first race and this time Warren started. We thought that we should have the pace to cope with the opposition after the driver change and Warren knew all he needed to do was keep the Phil Glew Lotus in site during the first stint. He was quickly up to second place and shadowed the Lotus, handing over to me at about half distance. I came out of the pits with a gap of a few seconds to close to Sailesh Bolisetti. I took my time as the conditions were very tricky but closed up and took the lead on the exit of Lodge Corner. I was able to stretch the gap but a couple of laps later the windscreen wiper stopped working and visibility was even more difficult! The radio stopped working as well and as I couldn’t see my pit board, I settled down behind the second Lotus which was a lap down and concentrated on keeping the car on the road to the end. When the GT 3 cars went past the spray was incredible but I kept it on the black stuff and we won by 24 seconds.

What a fantastic start to the season. The guys at WFR have done a great job with the car and to have a team mate like Warren Hughes in my first season of endurance racing doesn’t get any better. Next stop is the Nurburgring next month.