Round 1 of the Production BMW Championship @ Cadwell Park is now over, and what a great meet.
Headlines: I qualified 13th for Race 1, 12th for Race 2. I finished both races 14th out of 26. Really happy with those results, and an impressive debut. Full TSL Results for the day are here.
After a poor nights sleep, due to being nervous, I was full of adrenalin by the time I got to the circuit at 07:30. I met up with the team and the other drivers that GFR is running: Nidal Al-Khail, Ken Briddon & Danny Wilkinson. Sadly Danny was not racing but should be back for Silverstone. The cars were prepped for qualification, and we signed on, and went through scrutineering. After the driver’s briefing we were back in the paddock and getting kitted up to race!
Qualification was at 09:30, we were called into the holding area and I got myself in the zone as best I could. Honestly, I was really nervous, as I knew if I could hook up a decent few laps I had a chance of being up there with the pack. After a few minutes we joined the circuit and were off. The team were holding my pit board out each lap but it took me 3 laps to remember to look for it haha. When I did, it read 11th! My lap timer was working perfectly and I tried to push for a better place, but pushed too hard and spun into the grass. No damage done, I tried to rejoin as best I could, the hans device makes vision hard. Whilst getting back to racing speed I got in the way of Nidal accidentally and ruined one of his laps. I apologised afterwards, it was just bad luck!
Then the session was over, I actually couldn’t believe it when I saw the chequered flag, I was going well and really wanted one more lap but it wasn’t to be. Ended up 13th for race 1. Very happy with that, but felt I could of gone a second quicker if I had hooked it up properly. After a few more hours in the paddock we were called.
Race 1! We were released and went to line up for the standing start. I could just about make out the 5 second board from my grid position, and then I saw lights. Out they went and I was off, a fair start, not enough aggression on the throttle pedal. After about 12 mins, someone really lost it into the hairpin, and they’re car was stranded. Initially it was double waved yellows for a lap, but then the safety car was called, and we went round at a snails pace for 2 laps. Eventually we were back to racing, but the race was mostly over now. I did have some space finally, and I did my best lap of the day a 1:48.888. Ended 14th. A great result for my debut race.
Once back in the paddock I was reviewing the in car footage and timing data. James and I went through my best lap and I discovered I was actually on 1:46+ pace for half of the lap. Then I slowed a little to 1:47+ and then lost at least half a second in the stupid slow 2nd gear hairpin corner, the one I had been struggling with all day. If I had done that single corner well I would have had a time mid 1:47s! I was both elated and gutted. Still that type of pace is in the car, and in me, so it bodes well for the rest of the season..
Race two!. After a slightly better start, I was running 11th for a short time, before letting 2 cars by stupidly not defending my inside line. My head was stuck between go fast and keep the lines and defend from behind! This balance will improve over time.. I actually had some good scraps, I regained the 2 places as we were 4 abreast down park straight, and round park they went wide. Then I was back to defending! Having a car literally in your boot for lap after lap puts the pressure on, and the competition is fierce. I was doing well, and then suddenly my hairpin Achilles heel struck, I was wide and they both went past. I was back to 14th.
The rest of the race was a bit scrappy as the rear tyres started to loose their grip. I was pushing on and almost lost it through Hall Bends Ss, but caught it and recovered without any damage, just a bit of shock. I finished 14th again. I felt like I had earned that place. In fact Rob Manger, who is a Ferrari Development driver, and long time PBMW racer, had been behind me for 5 laps, 3 of which he was in my boot! The pressure was huge, I was faster through Coppice, Charlie 1 and 2, and the rest up to the Mountain, where my line seemed crap, and he always gained back the time. Inexperience again on my part. He came over to have a chat in parc ferme, a really nice guy.
Then it was 15:45 and over. In short order the teams packed up, and started to leave. There had been a good number of other championships running that day, and I missed every single one of them. For Brands GP I will get down on the Saturday and watch the TTRS and some of the others before my turn on Sunday 21st May.
Overall, very happy, I have the potential pace to fight for the Top 10 each round, but I lack a little consistency under pressure, and race craft to defend my position. Only time and experience will tell how far I can go.
Production BMW 2017 – Round 1 – Cadwell Park – Race 2 FULL in car footage