After Portugal I came to Brands Hatch on a high after winning the National championship the previous week, there was no pressure and I was going into the last race weekend of the series extremely hopeful and looking to enjoy the last round as much as possible.
Brands Hatch is a very challenging circuit due to the high speed corners that are blind over crests making some of the corners very hard to judge. I have fond memories of Brands as my first ever race in cars was here. I planned on the weekend to cap the season off in style but more than anything else I was in it for the pure enjoyment.
The practice sessions went OK and nothing better than that. I struggled to find pace in the car not for the first time this year and had to work really hard in trying to improve the handling to how I would like it. After scratching our heads overnight we realised a couple set-up issues which we corrected overnight for the qualifying the next day.
Going into the first qualifying I found the car difficult to drive and without testing a set-up change made into the session I found it very difficult to get a decent time. I continued to struggle for pace throughout the qualifying and for the first time this year I qualified worse than second place ending up in third and 17th overall to Joe Ghanem in second and Gabriel Dias on pole. I knew I didn’t have the car set-up how I wanted so worked hard for the second qualifying and worked on it further for the race in hope that I and the team have found a solution.
The first race I was one row behind Dias which meant by the first corner I possibly could get past if I got a decent enough of a start. The temperatures were significantly colder than Portugal as you would expect so getting tyre temperature is key, especially for a great first lap.
Brands Hatch is very difficult to overtake on so most of the overtaking is done on the first lap when it is very close. After a couple of practice starts I was ready and prepared for the race start but only to find out the race start was delayed as Max Chilton on the front row over cooked his brakes and caught fire! This is never a good thing to do just before you start a race.
Another parade lap was done and the starting procedure was underway again. After having quite a few practice starts now I knew exactly what to do so when the red lights came on then went out I managed to get a cracking start and due to my high speed going into the first corner I decided to go round the outside of a selection of cars. I was in first place from the first corner making up six places by the first corner and just had to keep pushing and make sure I didn’t lose too much time whilst other faster international cars came past.
The race as I expected was fairly sedate as Brands is just too narrow and difficult to overtake on, so from the first lap onwards I just pushed to get fastest lap and then stayed in position for the rest of the race. This is not to say it was easy by any stretch of the imagination, I had many moments that could have cost me a place of two but since making some final set-up changes from qualifying the car was suited to my driving style and the current conditions. I crossed the line in 1st place national and 9th overall I also had the fastest lap time. My lead was irrelevant, but it moved up to 62 points clear of second place man Dias.
Overall I had a great race which a fantastic first lap and I hope to do much of the same in the second race.
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