Waking up in Bright sunshine in the Silverstone National Paddock is very exciting and is what I dreamt about.
Dry and Sunny with 25 cars out to play.
I lowered my tyre pressures because of the high temperatures but the car did not handle as expected and I was getting plenty of understeer although I was keeping up and overtaking most cars but could not turn in to the corners with full confidence. I was enjoying myself on this famous track taking in parts of the F1 Circuit like Copse Corner and Brooklands.
On lap 5 I felt a slight misfire and immediately came into the pits and did a quick check off all electrics. Whatever it was fixed and I was back out for the last 5 mins but unable to set a really good lap , but I still qualified 11th which was not a disaster
The temperature had really increased and both I and the car were boiling with the temperature and the excitement.
Everyone anticipated the lights and we all got away to a clean start and flew 3 abreast around Copse Corner as I lost my place to Ade Tuckley and found myself in a tussle over eleventh, twelth and thirteenth. I was fighting to keep in the group and was pushing as hard as I could every lap, getting back up to tenth for a couple of corners. I even got up to 9th before dropping back down to eleventh again as we changed positions under braking. I was still suffering from a lot of under steer.
I dropped back to fourteenth on lap 12 and had to fight again to get past and hold the next 2 laps for thirteenth. This was the closest racing I had been involved so far this championship and although I only finished 13th I was only 2.5 seconds from 6th place. So I had held my own even though I was struggling to overtake. I also managed to improve my lap time over qualification.
Overnight I worked on the car to repair a few snags such as broken exhaust bobbins, a loose pin in the brake linkages and a few tweaks and safety checks. We also adjusted the rear wheel toe to try reduce my nasty understeer.
Immediately the car felt better and I had more confidence in the corners. My plan was to get faster every lap and try to get a tow of a quick driver.
I was running 10th overall for the majority of the qualifying and waited back on lap 12 for Ade Tuckley and Dan Palmer to pass me and then I was able to slip stream and get the tow I needed getting 9th, 8th and eventually 7th on Lap 13 which was my eventually qualifying position.
This was my best ever qualifying position and was only 0.1 seconds of a 4th place grid position.
1 9 Jonathan LEWIS 1:20.334
2 11 Christopher KIT STEVENS 1:21.095
3 42 David MARCUSSEN 1:21.316
4 17 Kelvin FLETCHER 1:22.182
5 James GOODALL 1:22.234
6 7 Steven RIDEOUT 1:22.239
7 33 Thomas MOSELEY 1:22.290
After some torrential rain at 1.30 the track was wet in places but was drying out quickly. There was much debate in the paddock about what tyres and setup to go for and would it rain again during the race?
A few people, including Jonathan Lewis had decided to get onto a wet tyre, just in case, where as we decided to stick with the dry setup and looked up at the black clouds in hope. I was doubly excited at the start of the race as this was also to be recorded for TV and I was in the top 10 and should get some coverage.
On the start I wheel spun up in first, second and third and lost a couple of places, but was able to keep up with the lead pack, which helped me gain some confidence. There was a bit of in incident on one of the laps and a small coming together left Kelvin Fletcher out of the race so I was now in 9thbut was stil very close and in a train of 10 cars for the lead.
Going down into brookland on lap 5 I was slip streamed by Ade and Ralph Beckers and had to run wide into Woodcotes. This battle was holding me up and I overtook them both the next lap up to 9th again. Without repeating myself I battled every lap with Ade and Ralph as we swapped positions several times before I was eventually able to break free of them both and home in on towards the back of the lead pack, which was not far away.
After all things were amended with Marcussen being disqualified, I finished 8th which was my best dry race result and even better I was only 8.6 seconds off the winner Jonathan Lewis. I was also quicker that Jonathan who was on the wet tyres… although not by much.
Great result for Mini Sport this weekend 1st and 8th
All in all a great week as I passed my driving test on Thursday as well.