Wednesday, 6 July 2011

Brands Hatch - Round 5 and 6

Testing at Brands Hatch didn’t really go to plan. The first of four sessions I was off the pace and couldn’t get to grips with the conditions. The track was greasy and the tyres I was using were brand new. The amount of tread on them made the car the move through the corners and didn’t allow me to put the power down early enough, which is essential at Clearways, the famous long right hander that leads you up to the start finish straight.

In the second session, I changed back to my old tyres, which made a significant improvement. However on lap 4 the gearbox got stuck in 3rd. Unable to move into neutral, I drove off the circuit and straight to the Caterham tent. The diagnosis was that the gearbox would need replacing. After 4 hours it was finished, enabling me to drive the last session, unfortunately missing more than half the day. Not much testing then and not much learnt about the Roadsport B settings around the circuit.


Surprisingly qualifying went well, I achieved 2nd – Jon Mortimer got Pole. Due to having the Dutch Caterham drivers racing with us at this event, the grid was split into 3 groups. Each driver would take place in 2 of the 3 races. I was doing race 1 and 3, which enabled me to watch race 2.

Race 1

I started on Pole in race 1 because Jon wasn’t racing until race 2. I got a great start, taking the inside line into Paddock Hill bend and then the tight line again into Druids. I led the first lap and defended the inside line again into Paddock Hill with Mike, Kurt and James pressurising me into lap 2. At Druids this time there were caution flags and slippery surface flags where I chose to brake early and take the tight line again, this proved to be the right choice. Apparently, Roy hit one of the Ducth drivers on lap one and his radiator burst, spraying slippery coolant into the entry of the corner. I avoided this but many around me didn’t, sending them crusading across the track, only narrowly missing the gravel traps. I managed to keep the lead and created a gap of 3 seconds, however this was short lived because I kept missing 3rd gear where Mike took full advantage of my problems and caught me with 10 laps remaining. At this time we were also catching the back markers and they played a part in the final results. Kurt caught Mike with James following and we had a 4 way battle for the race win. I managed to keep in front of them for the remaining laps, winning my 4th race of the season with a Pole to chequered flag victory.

Race 2

I didn’t take part in Race 2 but it was won by Kurt, Matthew Whate second and Adam White third. It was however being led by Jon Mortimer in the early stages but he had a harsh drive through penalty due to using more extra run off at the bottom of Paddock Hill bend. Jon eventually finished eighth.

Race 3

The Heavens opened, I started second and lead after another great start into Paddock, Jon Mortimer missed 3rd gear from a pole position start. I was followed closely by Aaron Head and Mike Hart, where I was quickly passed and found myself placed 3rd at the start of lap 2. Aaron gained a substantial lead, leaving me and Mike to battle it out for runner up. I followed Mike for a number of laps and passed him on the outside or Surtees, using the grip on the outside edge of the circuit. We quickly caught up with the back markers again where I passed but with some reservations, not knowing if we would be seen through the spray of their own cars.

We eventually finished our first wet race, Aaron won, I came second and Mike third. I was very happy with this result, gaining more essential points for the Championship, however Aarons pace in the wet has been noted.

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