Pic Jakob Ebrey
After a good test the previous week, we were keen to find out how the changes to the car would work over the race weekend. Having extra BOP ballast would make it difficult, but in FP1 on Saturday morning, we overcame an initial issue with the car to finish the session in P6 having tweaked the setup throughout the session. FP2 was pretty much dedicated to giving Peter time in the car and my run at the end was cut short by a red flag, so we would have to wait for qualifying to see where we were pace wise. Peter continues to climb his steep learning curve and in his session did his quickest ever lap around Oulton Park. I qualified in P7 not far off the quickest Astons and it should have been quicker as it wasn't a perfect lap. After a "rest" day on Sunday, Bank Holiday Monday dawned bright and sunny and we were greeted by a big crowd basking in the sunshine. I went out in the warmup, the car felt really good and I found myself top of the time sheets by quite a margin which was really encouraging.
There were two one hour races with Peter starting race one and me starting race two. Peter did a great job in his stint and handed the car over to me in P14. There was a gap of over 12 seconds to the next GT3 car ahead, so I started chasing them down. The Audi of Ryan Ratcliffe came out of the pits a few seconds ahead and I caught him and was looking for a way past; with Oulton Park being very narrow, it's difficult to overtake, so I was waiting for an opportunity. On lap 28, I got a run on him coming out of Cascades. He moved left to defend on the run down to Island Bend so I went to his right and managed to go around the outside of him at Island and was on the inside into the Shell Oils Hairpin, so was past and up into thirteenth, then twelfth a lap later. I was on the back of a train of cars with Mike Simpson's Ginetta in front, but he didn't make any mistakes, so I was following him to the flag when I gained another place after Ross Wylie had an incident on the last lap.
We made a small change to the car for race two and I was hoping to make up places at the start as it's very difficult to pass around the lap at the sharp end of the grid. I was close behind Jonny Adam's Aston Martin coming up Deer's Leap, keeping my eyes on the lights when his wing briefly shielded them from me - it was at that moment that they turned green, so I was fractionally late on the power, but it was enough to lose a couple of places on the run to Old Hall. As a result I spent most of my stint staring at the back of Jon Barnes's Aston's rear wing, who was in turn right on the back of Joe Osborne's BMW. It was pretty much stalemate, but I did get my nose alongside the TF Sport car on the run past the pitfall, however Jon closed the door in what was a scary moment as we touched - I had no room as I was hard against the pitwall, but we somehow survived. I was badly held up on two occasions by GT4 cars side by side, so there was no way through, but at least that gave me a bit of clear air and I was closing on the cars in front when I pitted to hand over to Peter. This was the first time I have handed the car over to Peter in the pitstops which came with its challenges, so unfortunately we lost 30 seconds in the stop and finished the race in P12.
The next race is the 3 hour at Silverstone which is a track that should suit our car . We're still improving all the time, so looking forward to the longest race of the season.
Pic Jakob Ebrey
After our excellent result at Brands, we were looking forward to keeping up the momentum at Rockingham. We had made some fundamental changes to the car which were immediately obvious from the first laps on Saturday morning. After working on fine tuning the setup, we finished FP1 in P4 which was a very encouraging start to the weekend. We used most of FP2 for Peter to get used to the new setup and he continued to improve his pace throughout the session. I had a quick run at the very end to make sure all was well before qualifying. The car felt good in qualifying but I didn't quite manage to get the Pirellis up to optimum temperature on my two flying laps - I was P6 in Pro qualifying. We started in P12 on the grid with our combined times. Sunday was bright and sunny and I did one flying lap on full tanks and topped the session - the car felt good and I was looking forward to the race. Peter started and held his position for the majority of the opening 50 minutes of the race before pitting to hand over to me. After a good pitstop by the team I got my head down and was making my way through the traffic. Four laps in, I came across the GT4 class leading Ginetta at the Tarzan Hairpin. I went around the outside of him and was alongside him on the following straight when he turned hard left into me. He had mis-identified the Beechdean car behind him, thought it was me and went left to get out of "my" way. Unfortunately the car was too badly damaged to continue, so it brought an early end to what, until then, had been a very positive weekend. Graham, the Ginetta driver, came over to apologise afterwards, which was appreciated, but I was gutted to have to park it so early. I'm already looking forward to Oulton Park later in the month which will be PFL Motorsport's home race.