After Caterham confirmed that Donnington was cancelled, the replacement was Anglesey. I was disappointed by this news because I had raced at Donnington in Karts.
Before the announcement, I didn’t even know where Anglesey was, in fact having looked at my journey, it would have been nearly as quick to go back to Zandvoort in Holland, rather than drive the 290miles (5 hours) to the very North Western tip of Wales.
I set off on Thursday after work having been in London and arrived at the track about 10:30pm. The pitch darkness was complimented by the sound of the waves nearby. Chris Bingham kindly let me sleep in his Winnebago where in the morning we awoke to the most picturesque views of one of the most technical circuits in the UK. The weather was also as predicted, dry but windy.
Having only seen the circuit map during the week and been unsuccessful in seeing any in car video of previous Caterham races, Chris showed me one of his laps of the circuit following some recent testing. The test day started at 9:50am and I followed Chris onto the circuit for the first time, this was essential for learning where the braking points were. Chris let me pass him on lap 4 where I then set about to improve my own lap times. By the end of the day I was enjoying the circuit where I had produced lap times 0.6seconds faster than the current lap record. This probably was due to the direction of the wind, but I took great comfort in knowing that I had learnt the circuit quickly.
We woke to wet conditions on Saturday morning. This was not forecast, and my heart sank when I saw it. I knew that I would have to feel my way around the circuit in the wet and this put the previous days testing almost into insignificance. The track started to dry out as we went out and I made a late decision to reduce the front anti roll bar to Red (medium strength) and put nearly new tyres on the car. This I felt would be ideal for the conditions, especially if it was going to dry out during the 20 minute session. I pushed hard early in the session and saw that the track was starting to dry out in the slower corners. I was quick to see this because I had made a mistake earlier in the year at Zandvoort where I lost out. Qualifying went without drama, where I passed a number of my Championship competitors during the session, knowing that I may be somewhere near the front of the grid.
A quick look at the time sheets confirmed that I qualified on Pole with a time of 1:49.959 which was 0.91 of a second faster than my nearest competitor, which in the conditions I felt was a great achievement. The forecast for the rest of the day was dry, therefore there was every chance that race one in the afternoon would produce similar times to the test day beforehand.
Stunning blue skies and winds strong enough to sail across the Atlantic were evident as we started our formation lap. Pole position was on the inside of the track, which unfortunately was the dirty side of the circuit. This was also not helped by the fact that other cars were racing on the same day, which threw large balls of rubber onto the unused side of the circuit having run slicks.
The lights went out and we were off, Mike Hart got a great start into the first corner where I bogged down due to excess wheel spin. I moved across to the left hand side of the circuit to block Jon Mortimer from gaining from my poor start where I followed Mike into the tight right hand hairpin in second place. I followed Mike closely for the remaining part of lap 1, and passed him on the inside of the first corner of lap 2.
Mike passed again by gaining a tow down the back straight on lap 3 where I gained the advantage again by passing him under braking on the last corner of lap 3. This allowed me to start lap 4 in first place where I broke free of the chasing pack. I quickly settled into the race and knew I had to focus on consistency now that the chasing pack would be falling over each other to catch me. The next 5 laps were all under the previous lap record where I set my fastest lap, and the new lap record on lap 10, with a time of 1:43.554 which was nearly a second faster than the previous one set in 2009.
Not only was this a great result on the day, it also meant that I could win the Championship in race 2 if I finished in the top 10.
Having won race 1, I started on Pole again for race 2. I got another poor start and was out dragged by Kurt Brady into the first and second corners. As I approached the hairpin, Aaron Head tried another one of his infamous lunges from afar causing me to turn away from the corner to avoid him, which in turn let him and Mike Hart through. Jon Mortimer then passed me on the back straight having got a tow
At the end of lap 1 I was in 4th having been demoted to 5th before Mike Hart out braked himself into Rocket, the tight left-hander. I made it back up to 3rd by the end of the lap and followed Jon and Aaron Head into the next lap in 3rd place. On lap 3 I passed Jon Mortimer on the inside of the first corner before reeling Aaron Head to a tow after the tight right hand hairpin. This put me close enough to get a tow down the long back straight to pass Aaron under braking into Rocket. I then broke free of the chasing pack and managed put in a number of very consistent laps, concentrating on the gap behind. Jon Mortimer broke free and chased me for the win but I managed to press on and get the fastest lap of race 2 with a time of 1:44.031. I won the race with a gap of 5.63 seconds from Jon Mortimer, followed by Kurt Brady.
My combined results meant that I was crowned the 2011 Caterham Roadsport Champion with one further round remaining and maximum points at this event. I couldn’t have asked for a better way to do it; 2 pole positions, 2 fastest laps, 2 race wins, 1 lap record and the Championship!