The season started for me back in January with the Dubai 24 hours. I raced with AF Corse there in the Ferrari 458 GT3 where we finished 3rd in the Pro/Am category. This was a great result for everyone in the team as it was the first ever 24 hour race for 3 of my team mates and 1 of them had never driven a GT3 car before the weekend so to come away with a podium and an overall top 10 result was great. This was my first 24 hour race with AF Corse and they were incredible, as you’d expect from a World Championship winning team!
After Dubai there was a big gap to my next race, the first British GT race of the season, again with AF Corse at Oulton Park. I arrived in Oulton feeling well prepared and confident I had a good car under me. This was confirmed in qualifying where I qualified 3rd in the pro session. John had earlier qualified 18th, he had the pace to be much further up the grid but didn’t get it together in qualifying.
We ended up in a disappointing 18th place, but I was encouraged to have the pace
John made amends in the first race, making a great start to move up to 12th – it looked like we would be able to move up further but we lost out badly under safety car and were one of a number of cars to lose a lap, meaning we finished back in 11th place. In the second race I pitted from third place but again, we lost out under the safety car and then John had a spin. We ended up in a disappointing 18th place. Nevertheless, I was encouraged to have the pace and looking forward to the next race at Rockingham.
For Rockingham, the weekend started well with fourth place in the Free Practice sessions, but at the end of qualifying we had a rare gearbox problem meaning we had to skip qualifying. It was a pity as my qualifying run would have been my first on new tyres and I was sure I could have been right there. The team worked really hard overnight to fix the gearbox and they finished at 4am on race morning so it was a tremendous effort by them. I did the warm up, and set the fastest time.
John’s opening stint went well and he made up a number of places to climb up to 14th by the stop. Unfortunately, he was too enthusiastic overtaking some of the cars and we picked up two drive through penalties, costing us a lot of time. In my stint I pushed really hard and had some good battles and we finished in eighth place, a result I was satisfied with considering where we started and the penalties. However, I was also disappointed as the potential showed we could have had so much more had we had a normal race.
Sometimes the officials screw up and sometimes it’s just the way the cards fall
From the Championship perspective the safety car has played a massive part in the final results in each of the races this year, both at Oulton Park and Rockingham. Sometimes the officials screw up and sometimes it’s just the way the cards fall. Personally I like the code 60 they use in Dubai to neutralise the race; it’s safe and fair to all and I hope the MSA and race organisers will look at what has gone wrong in the past and make amends in the future.
It’s a very busy season for me and I have just been racing in Spa for Group C then I’m off to the Nürburgring for Dutch Supercar before the next British GT race in Silverstone.
I’m really happy with how things are going and we just need a bit of luck on our side and a clean race and I’m sure we can get a really top result so we will be pushing hard.