Tuesday, 10 May 2011

Great Racing at Snetterton 300

The new Snetterton 300 circuit layout is very impressive. Having not driven there since the summer of last year, the new configuration, which has been created over the winter, had to be learnt very quickly.

I am fortunate that I can learn a circuit in only a couple of laps. Understanding which corner comes next is easy for most, but like a handful of other Caterham Drivers, I am fairly good at knowing where I can go faster – the problem is always doing it!

Unfortunately this didn’t help my progress on the Friday test day. I just could not get the car to drive as I wanted. On a number of key corners I was suffering with immense under steer, which would be essential to correct for the long drag down the Bentley straight.

At lunchtime, my lap times were still about 2 seconds slower than those who visited the day before, this was very disappointing. As the day progressed I drove the circuit harder, with more commitment, less fear, but still without much improvement. The odd thing however was that whilst my competitors were claiming faster laps the day before; visually I was able to keep with them during the test day. The only thing I could take strength from was that there was a very strong wind blowing across the circuit which stalled the cars performance and therefore the lap times, which maybe was not there the day before.

However, Free Practice on Sunday morning I set the fastest lap having raised the rear of the car on Dave from DPR motorsport’s recommendation. Unfortunately this was not qualifying but gave me hope.


The qualifying session went well, I managed to get 3rd place behind Mike on Pole and Kurt 2nd. Everything considered, I was happy with this because of how badly the testing had gone. 3rd place also put me on the inside line for the first two right hand corners, which was a significant psychological advantage.

Race 1

I got a great start, and kept to the right of the circuit where I passed Kurt into the 2nd Corner under braking. I then set my sights on Mike who was leading. I got a great tow down the back straight to pass, putting me up to 1st for the start of lap 2. This was short lived, where we then spent the next couple of laps fighting over the honours before Aaron Head joined us. The three of us fought closely over first place where Aaron and I collided on the infield. He lept over the rear of my car when we touched wheels, ripping the rear offside wheel arch and light cluster off (another one to wrap, sorry Martin of TVBC).

Fortunately for me I suffered no other damage where I gained momentum again to race Mike over the final laps. I was leading 2 laps from the end and I know that Mike was a serious threat due to being able to get the tow and pass me before the chequered flag in any of the 3 straights that remained. I managed to increase my lead and kept this into the last lap following a mistake from him. I could see that Mike was planning to get a tow down the back straight but he was now too far away to do so. He closed the gap on me into the last corner and got a tow down the start finish straight but it was not enough, I passed the chequered flag first but less than 1 second before Mike. James Needham finished 3rd.

Race 2

Having finished race one 1st, I started race 2 on Pole Position. I got another excellent start. I knew that keeping the chasing pack behind me for the first couple of corners was essential. The pack behind jostled for position allowing me to break free of them and breaking any chance of a tow down the back straight from the following pack. I watched the gap behind increase as I put together a number of consistent laps where the lead at one point increased to near 9 seconds. On lap 8 I started to slow knowing that the gap could be managed between me and second place. This fell to 4 seconds as I took the chequered flag.

I was very pleased to have a double win at Snetterton, something that I know is very difficult to do in Roadsport B.

I didn’t post any fantastic lap times over the weekend, however I made very good use of the opportunities that I created during the weekend.

The next race is at Brands Hatch on 11th and 12th of June where I now lead the Championship.

1 comment:

  1. Jemma Springett13 June 2011 at 19:40

    Lovely photos Wes- well done! I still remember lovely Louise from the salon in Bunts! x