Oct 2013

GT Tour Paul Ricard

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A front row start and finishing less than a second off a podium in race 2 was a great way to end the season. Driving the JMB Racing Nissan, my team mate for the weekend was Jean-Philippe Dayraut, who is a current World Touring Car driver, multiple Andros Trophy winner and has raced everything from Le Mans to Pikes Peak and most things in between. During testing, we were never out of the top 4 and the car felt very good in spite of running on old rubber. My first new tyre run was in qualifying and I missed out on pole by 0.1 of a second, but we had done less laps than everyone else, so I was looking forward to race one. Jean-Philippe qualified in eleventh for race 2. I made a good start in Saturday’s race and had my nose ahead of the pole sitting Mercedes, but as I was on the outside of turn one, I let him have the corner and as I turned in, I got a tap at the rear from one McLaren and immediately afterwards a second McLaren hit the right front of the car hard. I managed to limp back to the pits, but the car was badly damaged so the day was over after one corner. The JMB guys worked hard into the night to repair the car and it was ready to go on Sunday morning. Jean-Philippe started race two and made up some ground - when he handed over to me, I exited the pits in tenth place with some work to do. I made way way past a trio of Ferraris and a Porsche and was homing in on the back of an ART McLaren. I caught him with a few laps to go and was quicker than him but couldn’t find a way past without taking a big risk, so finished less than a second behind, fifth on the road which became fourth after scrutineering when a car was excluded due to a technical infringement. So a very positive few days - the car was good all weekend - JMB Racing and the guys from JRM did a fantastic job and it was good to share the car with Jean-Philippe who is vastly experienced and very quick. That’s it for 2013 - looking forward to next season!

ADAC GT Masters Hockenheim

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I got a last minute call up from JRM to race in ADAC GT Masters Championship at Hockenheim when the original driver was unable to make it due to personal reasons. I was looking forward to my fourth different championship this season, all on different tyres. It turned out to be a tough weekend at Hockenheim doing a one off round in a very competitive championship on Yokohama rubber - we also started off with 50kg extra ballast!  I was looking forward to sharing the car with Steven Kane who has been in the other JRM  car this season in BES. 

We had a couple of one hour sessions on Friday followed by qualifying for both races. It soon became clear that the extra ballast was killing us and we would have to wait until the second race where we lost 30kg of it to be more competitive. We qualified with the 50kg for both races though, so would be playing catchup - Steven and I qualified 26th & 25th for the two races. 

Race 1 started rather dramatically with me narrowly avoiding a huge startline crash. A Corvette got squeezed into me, bounced off me, then into another car and got turned into the pit wall. I looked in the mirror to see a ball of flame coming towards me! Luckily it missed me as I braked for the first corner but there was the inevitable red flag. The car had light damage, but the JRM guys soon had that sorted and we were ready to go again. At the restart I did my best to hold on to the group of cars ahead and, due to a shortened race, I pitted after 10 laps to hand over to Steven. He also had a lonely race and we finished 18th. We couldn’t wait to get rid of the ballast! Race 2 was started by Steven and he made up some positions in a manic start but was tipped into a spin on lap 3 so had to start the hard work all over again.  Steven pitted on lap 20 and once the pit stops had shaken out I was in P18 and a little way off a group of cars ahead. I made it up to P16 and got onto the back of the Chevrolet Camaro which was very difficult to pass as it was ridiculously quick in a straight line but I was tripping over it in the twisty bits. After shadowing it for several laps, the Porsche of Michael Christensen had closed in and I was having to defend while I tried to find a way past the Camaro. I eventually got a run on it out of Turn 1 and was finally past. The Porsche also got by the Camaro at the next corner so I spent the final three laps making sure I covered my lines and brought it home in 14th. So a difficult weekend but the Nissan didn’t miss a beat in spite of several assaults by other cars, so thanks to all the guys at JRM once again.