British GT Oulton Park
Pic: Jakob Ebrey
The new season started with a points haul in race one, but race two finished in unfortunate circumstances while running strongly in the points once again. This Oulton Park race weekend had the unique format of qualifying on Saturday and two races on Easter Monday due to local bylaws. Saturday morning dawned damp, although the overnight rain had stopped and the car ran strongly in the top 5 in the opening wet laps of the session and finished the session in sixth place.
The track was completely dry by the second session and the TF Sport team planned to give me a new tyre qualifying simulation run. When I went out on new tyres the car had a lot of oversteer through right handers, so I came in for adjustments. After a further few laps I came in again and the team found that the left rear tyre had a slowly leaking valve and was losing pressure. Unfortunately a red flag ended the session very early so there was no opportunity to go out again, so my first "proper" dry run would be in qualifying.
Qualifying was split between the "Am" and "Pro" sessions and my team mate Andrew Jarman qualified an encouraging seventh in his session. I struggled for tyre temperature and grip in my qualifying session in the cold conditions and ended up in P13 which would make the race hard work on this circuit which is notoriously difficult to overtake on. We were confident, however, that we could move forward during the race.
Race one started well with Andrew running in sixth place in a train of cars. Getting towards half distance, an accident involving TF Sport team mate Derek Johnson resulted in a safety car which unfortunately meant we had lost some ground during the pit stop window. Thankfully Derek was fine, but not the sister TF Sport car, which wouldn't make it out for the second race. I was down in P9 behind a gaggle of GT4 cars when the safety car pulled in and once the traffic had settled down, I quickly caught the Jones brother's Mercedes. I put as much pressure on as I could and after a few laps the Merc spun at Cascades, releasing me into P8, but too late to make any further progress. It was good to get some points on the board and we had shown good potential.
Race two started well and I finished the first lap in P11 on the tail of the number 44 Ginetta. I was quicker than him and put him under some pressure, resulting in a mistake into the quick Island Bend - I could see him on the grass and about to come back across the circuit and accelerated - successfully avoiding contact! I then set off after Dan Lloyd in the Motorbase Aston Martin and caught him but couldn't find a way past on the narrow circuit. I handed over to Andrew Jarman just after half distance and he quickly started to catch the train of cars fighting over fourth place. He got onto the tail of the Gary Eastwood Ferrari and after shadowing him for several laps made a move down the inside into Cascades that resulted in contact and retirement. It was a case of what might have been, as with some of the cars ahead having to serve penalties, a top 5 result was on the cards. We did, however, run competitively and showed potential so we can look forward to Rockingham.