A podium was a fantastic result for Andrew and I as well as the team after what has been a difficult season. Saturday was the hottest I've known at Snetterton with the ambient temperature at 28 degrees. It was so hot in the car that the plastic "wing" on my helmet gave way when I attached the velcro backed comms lead to it after FP2. I spent free practice one re-familiarising with the circuit after not having been here for a while and we ended up eighth fastest which was a good start. I did a lap early on in free practice two which would remain the fastest of the session overall which I was really pleased with as it was not perfect and I was held up by a GT4 car at the Bomb Hole so I knew there was more to come. I was really looking forward to qualifying, but at the end of my first lap I unfortunately lost the rear end of the car at Coram and made contact with the barrier. I drove back to the pits but couldn't get out again which meant that I didn't get a lap in, so would start race two at the back of the GT3 field. Andrew put a good lap together in his session to put the car on pole for race one which we hoped would give us a good foundation for a result.
Andrew made a good start and held the lead until he was baulked by a GT4 car through Coram, resulting in him being passed by the closely following Griffin and Al Harthy on lap 12. He pitted two laps later to hand the car over to me and I rejoined in fourth place. This became third when the leading #2 Motorbase car clashed with a GT4 car and then second when the Von Ryan #10 Mclaren was handed a stop go penalty for a short pit stop. With twenty minutes to go I had Matt Bell in the sister TF Sport Aston right behind me and he was closely followed by Jonny Adam in the Beechdean car. I concentrated on getting the exits of the corners right and making my way through traffic to hold them off to take our first podium. Defending wasn't helped by the fact that the left hand rear view mirror was broken during the race, but I kept a close eye on the right hand one! A double podium for TF Sport is testament to the hard work that everyone has put in.
The rain arrived for the second race of the day and the spray was pretty severe starting behind a pack of GT3 cars. I got a good start and had made up six places by the end of lap one to come through in ninth. I was quickly up to eighth and closed the six second gap to the #44 Ginetta and was up to seventh with a move up the inside into Agostini, before I handed over to Andrew. As a result of the second place in the previous race, we had an additional ten seconds at the pit stop, so we dropped back down the order when I handed over to Andrew. He did well in very difficult conditions to get back to ninth before the red flag stopped proceedings eleven minutes early as the rain worsened. He had made it up to eighth but the results were counted back a lap so we were classified ninth which gave us some points to add to our tally.
Overall a very positive weekend and I'm looking forward to carrying the momentum to the final round at Donington Park in three weeks time!
Pic: Jakob Ebrey
I was really looking forward to racing on the Brands GP circuit for the first time since 2012 - it's my favourite UK track and there aren't many opportunities to race or test there. I got up to speed pretty quickly and we tried a setup change in the first free practice. After going through our data and comparing it to the sister car, we decided to make some further changes for FP2. This transformed the car which was reflected in us being the quickest Aston Martin in that session. Qualifying was held later in the afternoon, but it was still warm and sunny. The combination of mine and Andrew's times put us sixth on the grid which we were happy with and I was sure we could move forward as our race pace was good. Sunday morning was again bright and sunny but our warm up was curtailed by some loose bodywork which was swiftly rectified by the TF Sport guys. It was a busy morning with sponsorship duties, showing people around the car etc. I live half an hour down the road from Brands, so it was nice to see so many familiar faces!
Andrew made a good start to the race and looked comfortable in sixth place in the opening laps. This became fourth after an incident out on track and he started to threaten the third place Barwell BMW Z4, following it closely for a few laps. He made a move into Clearways on lap 10 which resulted in contact and the car spinning into the gravel on the exit of the corner. Andrew made it back to the pits but the car was retired as a result of the trip to the gravel. It was really disappointing not to even get in the car especially as it felt better than it had all year. We definitely had the pace for a good result as borne out by the podium for the sister car, so hopefully we can carry that on to Snetterton. As always a top job by the TF Sport guys - we'll keep pushing!