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Race Day 2 -Donington

The second race weekend of the season took place at Donington Park. Another early start on the Saturday morning and as the sun rose it looked like it was going to be another really nice day. Upon arriving at the track the usual duty of signing on, scrutineering and the drivers briefing took place.

Shortly after the briefing we were required on the dummy grid ready for qualifying. On the first lap I thought the track was brilliant and immediately set about putting in a good time. I was feeling good in the first few laps; and was able to keep pace with the group of cars in front of me. On lap 5 I started to feel like the tires had overheated, so I slowed down for a few laps with the view to try and follow my friend Jack Gabriel around for a few laps. However Jack got past me and I made a few mistakes letting him get away and by then it was the end of the session. The results sheet showed I set a 1.33.424 good enough for 36th out of 45 competitors. After some advice from Robin Welsh I was sure I would be able to improve on this.

Sitting on the dummy grid for race 1, I was completely focused on what I had to do on the track. I had a good start and after the chaos of the first lap was over I set about catching the cars ahead. I was able to pass 3 or 4 cars and was feeling confident that I could carry on and progress up the field. However when going into Redgate on lap 5, I went for third gear to find it had broken. Despite this I tried to keep my head and drive the rest of the race in fourth gear. One lap I was crossing the finish line and I could see the chequered flag being prepared for race winner, 2008 Renault Clio cup champion Ben Winrow. I knew it was my last lap so I put all my effort into finishing and was able to catch the car in front of me and pass him going into McLean’s. I arrived back in the pits and explained what had gone wrong to Robin Welsh. He drove the car around the pits quickly and he revealed that the car needed a new gearbox. However the results sheet revealed that I had done my fastest lap on the last lap, a 1.32.565.

Following some advice from Ben Winrow, I now knew the lines he was using and concentrated on making the most of these in the race on Sunday. Sunday came, another nice day but the weather reports predicted rain at 1 o clock, with our race being at 1.45. I did not want a wet race so tried to put this to the back of my mind and focus on the race ahead. When sitting on the dummy grid before race 2, I ran through the track in my head bearing in mind I only had fourth gear. The start came and I got a bad one, a lot of wheel spin off the line and then having to shift from second to fourth gear left me at the back of the field. However I remembered all the advice I had been given and set about catching the field.

I was able to catch up and pass the two cars in front but before the race I was told to try third gear, I still could not find it and lost a lot of time and two places. I was determined not to finish last and was able to catch and pass the two cars again, quickly building a gap on them. Nearing the end of the race I could see the rain in the distance and hoped it would hold off until the race ended. Throughout the race I was able take the Old Hairpin really well and the run up the hill became my place to overtake. On the last lap I was able to use this and pass Mike Jones around the outside of McLean’s. This still left me on the outside for the Coppice and Mike was able to get back past me. This was how the race finished and the rain hit as we went into redgate on the in lap. The results sheets came out and I finished 31st out of 35 cars, much to my surprise setting my fastest lap of the weekend a 1.31.761. This meant that again I had been able to improve my fastest lap time over the weekend by a considerable amount.

So far in the 2011 Production BMW Championship I have had four very enjoyable races and over the weekend I had always been improving. I can’t wait to see what happens at the next race at brands hatch now!!!