Blancpain Endurance Series Navarra
My first weekend of racing in the Blancpain Endurance Series was fantastic, although it ultimately ended in disappointment with a mechanical failure. With very little time in the car it was important to get as many laps in as possible during Saturday’s testing. We concentrated on race pace with plenty of fuel in the car and I ran on used rubber until qualifying on Sunday morning. The Navarra track is very tight with mainly second gear corners, so I spent my time learning the track and the car and was confident that our race pace would be good on Sunday.The team made a few changes to the car overnight as well which would hopefully improve traction which was very important here. I was sitting in the car waiting for my 15 minutes of qualifying on Sunday morning when, as the guys were bolting on my first new set of rubber for the weekend, it started to rain. I had never driven the Ferrari in the rain but set off to get a lap in before it got too wet. Traction control and ABS are critical in these conditions, so I turned them both up and headed off. First lap across the line I was in eighth overall, then the rain eased off and the track started to get quicker again, so timing across the line would be critical. I went onto my last timed lap and the track was still greasy but had plenty of grip. Traffic was a major problem - I was held up three times on my quickest lap by cars rejoining after a spin and some just struggling in the conditions. Halfway through the last sector it started raining hard again and I went slightly wide at the last corner as the track was wet again. In spite of all of this I ended up 22nd overall and 13th in class which, all things considered, I was happy with. I had gone quicker than I had been all weekend and could have gone considerably quicker so was making progress which is what the weekend was all about. We found out that we would have to start at the back of the grid after two minor misdemeanours from Saturday attributed to the car, but in a three hour race this shouldn’t be too much of a problem. Danny Candia, my Paraguayan team mate, would start the race with me second and David McDonald third. Danny made a good start, stayed out of trouble and brought the car up to 33rd overall and 20th in class by the time he handed the car over. I came out of the pits behind the championship leading Marc VDS BMW, who had also just pitted. Over the period of a few laps, I caught him up and in doing this, again went faster than I had been all weekend - with a full fuel load. The race pace was excellent and I was settling down when I felt something let go at the left rear just after I started a lap. The car was crabbing badly but I managed to crawl back to the pits. The wheel nut had failed and unfortunately the suspension was too badly damaged to continue. It was massively frustrating for everybody as the car was going well and we were set for a charge through the field. It gave me enough of a taste to know that I want to do more of this! Thanks to Scuderia Vittoria and everyone who got me in the car and worked so hard over the race weekend.