Coming to Portugal to race is fantastic as I am a great fan of the country and the weather which leading into the race weekend soared into the mid thirty degrees proving fitness to be very important. I came out to Portugal two weeks before the race for a holiday and some heavy training to get used to the heat.
This race weekend is probably the most influential of the whole year as there is a possibility of winning the championship. The score is I have to either get two fastest laps and two second places or one win and one top 5 to succeed in sealing the title.
Going into the first practice session I was very interested on how the car would handle round the relatively low grip circuit. The actual layout of the circuit is very unique and strange, mainly due to the fact there is a lot of undulation. The circuit is similar to Brands Hatch in that sense.
After a poor result at Silverstone a decent result was imminent and with it the hope to win the championship. After getting used to the circuit and driving around for about an hour we stumbled into more engine issues which this time the overheating got the better of this engine and another engine change was undertaken in between practice sessions.
The second practice session was a lot more productive and with a good setup I felt very confident going into the qualifying sessions the next day. After waiting the usual 10 minutes to get some track space I went out on track to put in a hopefully pole lap time. I put in my best time so far but it was 0.2 seconds off Gabriel Dias which put me 2nd in class and 23rd overall which is 2 grid positions behind Dias. The car had been handling very well during the weekend and with only 1 grid positions between me and 1st place there was a decent chance of winning.
Since there was a decent ambient temperature I did not have to work too hard to get tyre temperature for the start. The 5 second board came out so I got the engine at the correct revs and to my surprise the lights came on and went off within half a second. I launched out of my grid slot and managed to get past about 8 cars by the first corner.
After some early accidents a safety car came out for quite a few laps while the carnage was getting cleared up, then another accident happened directly in front of me under safety car conditions! This took even longer to clear up, the safety car was then released and to my surprise Dias managed to get past me into the first corner after a decent slipstream and took the lead.
With 6 laps to go Victor Garcia got past and was pushing to get past Dias and when an opportunity came up I followed Victor past Dias and managed to get a good exit in which I passed Victor as well. I nursed the car home to the finish to take the chequered flag in 1st place and 14th overall doing so increasing my lead from 53 points to 62 which meant all I needed was one more point and I would win the championship.
With the championship even more realistic to get this weekend the pressure was on for the second race but all I needed to do was finish the race and I would win.
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