Sep 2015

British GT Donington

Pic: Jakob Ebreydoningtonpic

Pole position and another podium was a fantastic way to end the British GT season. I  hadn't driven around the circuit since early 2014, so was hoping for some dry running to reacclimatise before qualifying. The weather had other ideas though, as it was wet first thing on Saturday during Free Practice One although a dry line was beginning to appear when Andrew was in the car at the end of the session. Free Practice Two started dry, although rain was threatening and after three flying laps Andrew was called in to get me in the car before it rained. As I exited the pit lane the rain started to fall and quickly got heavier so I only managed two dry corners before crawling back to the pits on a very wet track. We waited a while before going back out to let the standing water clear and our wet times were as quick as anybody, but it meant going into qualifying with no dry laps under my belt. Andrew started off his part of qualifying with a very quick lap that put him quickest before I went out to set my half of the aggregate time. I secured pole with my second flying lap and set a purple first sector before the red flag came out. I was surprised at how quick I went as every corner was an adventure as I didn't know where the braking points were - there was some guess work involved! A great job by TF Sport to get the car working so well and the weather looked as though it would play ball for the race as well.

Andrew started from pole with a textbook getaway at the rolling start and led from the sister TF Sport car until a safety car undid all of his good work. At the restart he maintained his lead until the pitstops started. As only one fuelling rig is allowed per team, it's not possible to pit both cars at the same time and the Bell/Johnston car was pitted first and Andrew followed two laps later. As I exited the pit lane, Matt came by into the lead. By the time I got the tyres completely up to temperature, Matt was a few seconds up the road and I had Joe Osborne less than ten seconds behind me. The hour long stint was pretty intense as I struggled with a "long" brake pedal and focussed on getting through the traffic and being as consistent as possible. As we came into the last 15 minutes, the gap to Matt was under 10 seconds and Joe was chipping away at my second place but I was confident I had enough pace to keep ahead of him to the flag. As I crossed the line to start the last lap I had a 2.5 second lead over third, but started down the Craners to find a rolling roadblock of four GT4 cars battling each other. I had to back off, then a small gap opened and I squeezed through but was tagged by one of them as I went past, then had to follow a GT4 Ginetta through The Old Hairpin which severely hampered my momentum up the hill and I could see Joe's headlights right with me. I defended into McLeans and the next thing I knew I had been tapped into a spin, then hit down the right hand side of the car. I managed to get the car pointing in the right direction, hooked first gear and went on my way. Joe had gone off as well, so I held onto my second place to the line. Joe apologised straight afterwards - it was a simple misjudgement so all good on that front apart from some damage! What a way to end the British GT season! We have made some really good progress over the last few rounds, so as always a big thanks to all at TF Sport who really deserved the one-two.