Rockingham! A track I was familiar with from my fiesta days but had never previously had the chance to drive in the Ginetta, so I was keen to get started. The weekend started on Friday, and whilst there was no testing, it meant I could use the time to have a professional seat fit. This was something that I had not really given much thought to but, now I have one, it is as if I can’t drive without it. I felt even more at home than I did before, the fitting was perfect.
Despite the lack of testing I was still observing the other cars on track, to see how the circuit was evolving over the day, and to see how the monsoon-like conditions affected the performance of the cars. I love the wet and was excited to get on track the next day and start exploring the limits of both track and car.
Saturday, I woke to an obscene amount of rain, even more than the day before! Heading to the track I was buzzing for the day ahead.
Free Practice 1 (FP1) – After settling into a good rhythm I posted a time that would put us mid-table in the times, and was feeling confident, the car felt good, but there were definitely more improvements to be made.
Free Practice 2 (FP2) – This time, we were left scratching our heads. The track had become even wetter than before, with water cascading down the banked turns. We decided to make a change to the car, but it left both Anna and I with little confidence in the rear of the car. So, we tried another change but this lead to the issue becoming worse still. With little time left in the session, we had to think of something drastic, and something drastic it was. I must say I have never been nervous driving a car in the wet, in fact, it’s quite the contrary, but going through the first banked turn of Rockingham, the car suddenly snapped several times, and with the wall getting ever closer, I got that feeling for the very first time.
Unfortunately the drama was to come. That very same lap, myself and 4 other cars were to fall victim to oil and coolant, dropped onto an already greasy track from another car. It led us all to pirouette almost in sync. I managed to keep the car from sustaining any severe damage, and drove back to the pits, at which point the red flag was shown, and it was evident not everyone had been as lucky as me. Our sister car, number 88 had sustained a large amount of chassis damage after colliding with the wall.
After the palaver of FP2, we weren’t hoping for too much in Quali’ and, due to a lack of rear end stability and despite pushing hard, both Anna and I were just not able to match the times of the quickest on track. We had to accept that we would be starting towards the tail end of the grid. That said, we were not deterred – this meant we could only go forwards and would drive to win the places back.
Race day! At this point the track had dried but was still threatening to rain. Anna took the start due to the regulations of the championship and with some “questionable” driving from some of the competitors it was a rough start indeed. Despite this she drove with passion and her pace was improving every single lap. Unfortunately, our hopes were short lived and, after just 20 minutes or so into the race, a catastrophic engine failure ended our our race.
We were all devastated that the amazing progress on track we were making was cut short so early, I felt rather dissatisfied and disappointed. This does not mean that we are disheartened in any way, rather it will push us to really develop ourselves and we will come back to the track stronger and quicker than ever. The next track is Snetterton, on 26/27 May. This is one of my all-time favourite circuits and I cant wait!
Despite my own disappointment there was a positive end to the day with the team’s efforts being justly recognised as they were awarded The British GT Team of the Weekend Trophy. A very well deserved win as every person in the team really did work their socks off during a truly challenging and difficult weekend.