After a long summer break the next race in the British GT Championship was Brands Hatch GP, a circuit that although I love I haven’t got a great deal of experience around, so I was a little apprehensive going into the weekend.
We had a few new things to try on the car coming back from the break and straight away we found a really nice set up with the car. Toby our engineer knows i’m a hard driver to please but as I said on the radio to him after the first session the car was AMAZING. We decided to concentrate on race pace in free practice and not run new tyres, so we weren’t at the top of the timetable but I was really happy with our race pace.
In qualifying I would have two new sets of tyres to set the best time possible. The first run went well and I put the car P2 straight away, but with the lack of new tyre knowledge I instantly knew I could go quicker on the second set. Unfortunately it wasn’t to be, I was 7 tenths up until I hit some horrible traffic going into the last corner. I was gutted but my first run was good enough to put us P6. Our best qualifying position yet in British GT! It was a a bittersweet moment for me. I was happy to be 6th but not so happy to be the slowest GT3 Aston with the other two setting great times putting them 4th and 2nd.?Who knows where we could have been without the traffic! Anyway, time to focus on the race.
Warm up went well, Mark went out to bed in some new brakes for the race and I got in afterwards to check the balance on a heavy fuel load. As I got out onto the track I was just behind Gaw and Adam in the other two Astons. We followed eachother closely for 2 or 3 laps and all I could think about was I wonder how cool this looks from the outside seeing the 3 Astons so close! Anyway, job done and the car was ready for the race.
As a sign of respect for the late, great, Allan Simonsen we sat on the Grid revving our engines for 60seconds. Something he would have loved. The front row was also kept clear ( he would have been there anyway! )
Mark started the race and after dropping back to 10th briefly he found his overtaking head and slowly but surely picked them off one by one until we were amazingly up to 2nd! Mark drove the race of his life and even set the fastest lap in the first hour of the race! I was feeling positive but our fuel strategy meant that Mark would have to stay out for 5 laps longer than the other AMs to make sure we got to the end of the Race. After a great pit stop I slotted in behind the #1 car with Caine driving. I’ve had a few races with him before and he’s always managed to get away but this time it was nice to be the quicker one and although it took a while I managed to slide up the inside going into Paddock and then get my head down until I tried to lap a slower GT4 Aston. There was some miscommunication and he turned in on me while side by side going into clearways. I tried to back out but he didn’t see me hitting my front left wheel snapping the steering up and ending our race! I was gutted, it’s the worst feeling not bringing the car home and having to walk back to the garage, but this is racing and as we only know too well this year it has its ups and downs!
Although it was a massive disappointment not finishing the race, we all felt pretty positive in that we have made some major steps forward with the car. We had some great support from Aston Martin racing over the weekend, which was a massive help, so thanks to them and the team as normal were faultless.
As Mark Lemmer keeps telling me our run of bad luck will end soon and the results will come!