Jun 2012

British GT Brands Hatch GP

55_13


Pic: Jakob Ebrey


A win on the Brands GP circuit where I had my first win in Ginetta Juniors as a novice is very satisfying as it’s always a challenge and is my favourite track. The weekend was far from straight forward however. Warren didn’t get many laps in for the first session on Saturday morning as an overheating issue meant doing a few laps at a time. This was resolved in time for the second session where I went out I was soon back in to have a fluid leak investigated. This was swiftly resolved and I managed a few laps when the car stopped at Druids with an electrical issue. The guys at team WFR worked flat out all afternoon to trace the issue and literally as qualifying started the car fired. Because of the issues, we hadn’t done any work on setup but I was ready with my helmet on, so jumped in the car for 3 laps to see where we were. The car seemed reasonable but we were about half a second off pole. Warren did the rest of the session after a small change and improved on my time by 0.1 of a second, so we qualified third a little way off the quickest. In a two hour race, qualifying isn’t crucial so, considering how little running we had, we were hoping the race would come to us. The ten minute warmup on Sunday was damp, so didn’t help with sorting a dry setup and we went into the race without an ideal car. As the cars were released for the start of the race on a dry track it started to rain, but not quite enough to change to wets as it was likely to be a shower. Warren was running in third, keeping the leaders in sight and keeping it tidy in very tricky conditions on slicks. As the race settled down, Warren moved up to second and pitted soon after the pit stop window opened. Due to the extra 20 seconds pit stop penalty for winning at Rockingham, I came out of the pits behind the second placed Mazda, but was quickly past it - when the lead APO Sport Ginetta exited the pits it was 12 seconds ahead, so I had some work to do. I closed the gap to 3 seconds over a period of a few laps when it started to rain again. These are conditions I normally revel in but I decided to keep it on the track and took it easy while the shower passed and the gap extended slightly. With 25 minutes to go, and with the shower passed, I closed the gap and took the lead into Druids. I extended the gap to 20 seconds by the end of the race and we now have a healthy 52.5 point lead in the championship but there’s a long way to go yet. Thanks as always to the Team WFR guys who worked very hard to sort the issues so that we had a car that ran perfectly for 2 hours. There is now a break until the next round at Snetterton on 4/5 August.

British GT Rockingham

55-14

Pic: Jakob Ebrey
We had to work hard for it, but a win at Rockingham after a fightback was very satisfying. This was the first two hour race of the season and the Team WFR guys had worked hard at solving our diff issue from the Nurburgring. The car ran perfectly all weekend which is testament to the effort put in by the team. Friday testing went well and there wasn't muchbetween us and the Lotus over one lap but the extra 55kg we have to carry due to the driver pairing hurt us here on the twisty infield more than at any other track. The team played it strategically in qualifying with me doing the requisite laps at reduced pace and Warren doing the qualifying - he put in a great lap to steal pole from the Lotus by half a tenth.

The race started under cloudy skies on Sunday afternoon with Warren doing the first stint. Phil Glew in the Lotus  was swiftly past Warren and gradually opened a gap. On lap 28 a safety car came out but we had to wait until lap 32 before we could stop during the pit window. At the beginning of the pit window, both Team WFR cars were pitted at the same time and the stop took longer than expected - we had to wait to fuel our car and lost a lot of time to the rest of the GT4 field. Once all the pit stops had been completed we found ourselves third in GT4 (both Lotuses having retired)  over 40 seconds off the lead and half a minute from second. I drove flat out and was catching the two ahead at over two seconds a lap so was sure we could still win the race as there was over an hour to go. The lead car then had a stop go penalty which put us up to second. On lap 47 I closed on to the tail of the lead Ginetta and as we turned through the last series of corners at the end of the lap he lost the rear of the car, spun and I was in the lead!  I was stretching away only to find that we had been given a stop go penalty relating to the earlier pit stop. I pushed hard and had built up enough of a gap so that we were still in the lead as I came out of the pits. There were 15 laps left to the end so I concentrated on bringing it home and we eventually won by 40 seconds.

We've restored our championship lead and it's on to my favourite circuit on the Brands Hatch GP layout in two weeks.