Donington Park played host to Rounds 3 & 4 of the Porsche Carrera Cup Championship of Great Britain. Finishing up 5th and 3rd in Rounds 1 & 2, I was keen to make progress at Donington Park. Not least because it’s one of my favourite circuits – I’ve got some great memories of that circuit, including coming back from 15th to win in my 2008 Ginetta Junior Championship winning year. But back to Porsche, I knew of the importance to start picking up bigger points and ultimately get some wins in. No mistakes could be afforded this weekend.
Looking back, this weekend turned out weird, from start to the finish. The weekend started off quite weird as we had Free Practice on Thursday, as oppose to the traditional Friday Free Practice sessions. Thursday went strange when my mechanic didn’t turn up. Ricky my mechanic has not been in contact since and no one has heard a word from him. He’s been active on Facebook, as we all did our best detective work, but he hasn’t bothered to show up. So Ricky, if you’re reading, cheers for that. Hope you’re well. The actual test day was OK but I wasn’t able to change too much to my Porsche Cup Car over the two sessions.
Friday I spent all day watching Formula 1, Countdown and Bargain Hunters. It was actually quite an enjoyable day – I cracked open my laptop and did some work in the morning before watching the F1 practice (every minute of the 90 minute practices) and also honing in on my word and maths skills with Countdown. Bargain Hunters was quite useful to prepare for negotiating for another mechanic.
Saturday came up and I qualified 3rd place for both races, which wasn’t perfect as I felt confident for pole, but we’re not still at the perfect place with my Cup Car. It’s amazing how the small things can make a difference – and despite being about a tenth off pole, I certainly couldn’t take it with the balance I had. We’ll get there, and we’ve got work to do, but 3rd was not a disaster as I could race hard in the races.
Race 1 was a lot of fun actually. I was tucked in behind my team mate Lewis Plato, or Luigi Plato, as I enjoyed ‘Italianising’ him. He seemed to be struggling on his tyres so I went for the move around the outside of Turn 1 and made it stick for 2nd. He fell back to 4th ultimately, whilst I chased down the leader and claimed fastest lap in the process. I ended up around a second behind the winner and just ran out of laps. The car felt strong in the race and I was happy with our direction of progress. Unfortunately, that evening things turned pretty sour.
Myself and Luigi Plato’s cars were disqualified for failing a post-race scrutineering check. The team had the wrong set up in the rules, to do with camber, and were subsequently thrown out of the race results. Here’s the thing, I’ve done 160 races in 10 years and not once has the car failed a post-race scrutineering check. We’ve all seen it if we’re into racing, and it absolutely can happen. Mistakes from the team can happen and they do. But this little error, despite not being one to gain a performance advantage, a pure human misread on the rules, has cost us deeply.
I lost 2nd place and the fastest lap, and carry on the season with a disqualification and a big fat 0 next to my name. All that hard work, all those months of preparation and sponsorship finding, came flooding in. You can imagine the letters I tried to make out of Countdown’s repeat on Saturday night – and even when the letters didn’t make a swearword, my eyes saw differently.
A real stab in the gut that was. I had to dust myself off and pick myself back up, as did my team mate whose car also was disqualified for the same misread. We both went into the race on Sunday with a gung-ho attitude and just try and get the best race we could.
I started 3rd and finished 3rd after a titanic defensive battle with Dan Cammish. I managed to hold him off, just, but for about 10 minutes I was praying for the chequered flag. We over compensated for having the wrong set up on Saturday, and the car balance was all wrong. You set the car up to be exactly how you want it during pre season testing and for the weekend, so when it was wrong on Sunday, it wasn’t a big surprise but it was hard work.
I was naturally gutted as I expected so much more out of this weekend. OK, on the face of it, if I said I finished 2nd and 3rd and I was still working with the team to improve the feeling and balance, then that would certainly have been decent. But with the disqualification, things have changed. The goal post has now moved. We’ll go away and come back fighting. Each race and weekend now becomes its own little championship battle and the only thing we can do is make each weekend count.
There was big crash on the weekend in the support series and we’re all praying the driver in that series and car is OK. It reminds us of the dangers of Motorsport and at any time, things can happen. It helps put my weekend into perspective of course, but hopefully we’ll have some good news on him and we’ll see him back in a racing car very soon.
Until then, the next race is a few weeks away so the time is going to be spent making progress with the balance and the team and keep on trying to improve the feeling of my Porsche Cup car. We’re almost there with it, so we’ve got to draw a line under the weekend and go again. If Countdown had a 7 letter conundrum for us to solve, the word would be 'persevere'.
Did I say 7 letter? I meant 9 – the maths bit on Countdown I was rubbish at.