A win and a second place at GT Open Silverstone with Darren Turner
I don't think I could have asked for more from the weekend - a win and a second place was a fantastic result for all concerned. Several people had worked hard to put the necessary pieces in place for this weekend and it came together quite late, but it was a great opportunity for me. I have known the guys from TF Sport for a while now and have a lot of respect for them, so was looking forward to working with them.
Qualifying was on Saturday morning and Darren put the car on pole for race one in wet conditions. My qualifying was a couple of hours later and it had stopped raining as the session for GTS cars started. We were in the Super GT class which went out 15 minutes after them. I was just starting my first flying lap when the red flag came out, resulting in a delay which meant that the track had turned greasy by the time we went out. The result was that the first three cars were from the first GTS class session and I was fifth, 0.1 off the championship leading Scuderia Villorba Corse Ferrari which was quickest in Super GT.
In Race one, Darren took the lead from pole and continued to build a gap which had grown to over 40 seconds by the pitstop. We had an additional 15 second pit stop penalty due to it being a one off entry into the championship, so the lead was reduced after the stops but I had it back up to 44 seconds when a safety car was deployed, wiping out the advantage. I had been cruising along in the lead, just being consistent and making sure we got the car to the flag. The safety car meant I had to get the restart spot on to ensure we won the race. There was a lapped Porsche between me and the second placed Corvette of Francesco Pastorelli. Coming down the Wellington Straight I let the safety car go ahead and timed the restart in the hope that I could get away while the rest took a few corners to get past the Porsche. The plan worked and the gap had stretched to 4 seconds by the end of the lap and was over 8 seconds by the flag. It was a fantastic feeling to be winning again!
Sunday afternoon’s race was always going to be a lot tougher, due to the additional 15 second pit stop penalty which we had been given after the win the previous day - making the total penalty 30 seconds.
Race 2 started well from fifth on the grid. I was up to fourth place by the end of the first lap - the number 55 Ferrari then ran wide on lap 2, so I moved up to third. The car had been mega quick through Copse all weekend and on lap 6 I got a run on the Scuderia Villorba Corse Ferrari into Maggots/ Becketts and was through and up to second. I then set off after the leading Porsche, setting the fastest lap of the race to that point, and made a move up the inside into Stowe, into the lead on lap 7. I managed to stretch a gap to the now second place Ferrari of Daniel Zampieri, which stabilised at around the one second mark. With 25 minutes on the clock, the team called me in to hand over to Darren, the gap having reduced to almost nothing by a back marker holding me up through Stowe Corner. After the stop, Darren was in seventh place and picked off several cars ahead with a few quick laps and was up to second place with seven laps to go. The gap to the lead Ferrari was over fifteen seconds, and with time running out, he backed off and brought the car home second which was another great result.
Thanks to John Gaw from Aston Martin Racing and Tom Ferrier from TF Sport for working so hard to put this all together and also to Tim Nadin from IWI Watches for coming on board. The guys did a fantastic job with the car all weekend , I really enjoyed working with Darren and hope to have another outing in an Aston Martin before too long!