Blancpain Endurance Series Silverstone
A points finish in the Pro-Am class and being right on the pace from the off, in spite of never having completed a lap in the car before Saturday, was a satisfying way to start the 2014 season for me. I was first in the car in the first session on Saturday but the weather made conditions nearly impossible, with the car aquaplaning on the straights before the rain got even heavier giving us no option but to head to the pits after 6 laps to wait it out. Conditions had improved in time for the afternoon Pre Qualifying session and I was first in the car to string a few laps together. My times were mid pack, a few tenths off the number 7 works Bentley and ahead of the second car which was satisfying. I handed the car over to my team mates after about 25 minutes - conditions were still wet but began to improve and by the last half hour there was a dry line and slicks were the way to go. I jumped in the car at the very end for my first dry laps in the car and did two laps before the flag, my first put me P4 overall, which dropped down the order as others improved, and my second put me P9 overall, P4 in class and fastest Bentley. The car felt good straight away and gave me confidence to push which is testament to the development work put in by Bentley to the Continental GT3.
Race day was brighter but the track was still damp as qualifying started. By the time I went out for my session it was almost dry - the car felt good and I finished my session P10 overall out of 44, and P3 in class. We started the race in P22 on the grid and Steve Tandy was first up. He ran strongly in P25 until handing over to me just before the hour mark. I rejoined in P33 after the stop and eased the tyres in gently which stood me in good stead later in the stint. There were big gaps between the cars ahead (as well as lots of traffic) but I chased down and passed a few cars, being among the fastest on track, climbing up to P20 overall and P9 in class before handing over to James Appleby. After a safety car interrupted stint, James was running in P18 overall and P8 in class but an intermittent issue with the car cutting out lost us a place near the end. The guys at Appleby Engineering worked flat out to sort some issues in the week running up to the race, so a points finish was a fantastic result for their Blancpain Endurance Series debut. I would love another opportunity to race the Bentley, now that I'm more familiar with it!