Month: May 2017

  • PBMW 2017 – R2 – Brands Hatch GP Race Meet

    Round 2 of the Production BMW Championship @ Brands GP is now over, and one word: eventful!

    Headlines: I qualified 10th for Race 1, 11th for Race 2. I finished race one 20th (after a coming together) and race two 8th out of 21!. Yesss!!! Full TSL Results for the day are here.

    The weather was dry and sunny, perfect conditions. I had a pretty decent qually, although I was a bit disappointed with my time, as it was in the 1.53s, same time as my track day with James Foard in the car.

    Race 1 was a mess. I got on the grid and realised I had never done a racing start on a hill! I couldn’t get the release right and span up the rear tyres. I went backwards 4 places. I made up two places in quick succession, with some good passes. But on lap 4 I touched wheels with Dave and ended up backwards in the gravel. Looking back through his footage I am partially at fault for the contact, I wasn’t really aware of him making a move, couldn’t make out where his car was and I was on the racing line. Sadly his car had some damage which effected the steering, mine felt OK. At the time, the bang was quite loud and as I was last I came into the pits so the guys could check the side of the car. All was well, no damage to the wheel arch so I rejoined the race. I had a clear track and tried to set a good time but was struggling with an under steering front end. I finished 20th. What I only found out later was I had been reported for speeding in the pit lane! I had to go and see the clark of the course and apologise for my mistake. He was fair given I was a rookie and reminded me of the speed limit. I promised to be more careful in future. The learning curve for being a racing driver is steep that’s for sure!

    Race 2 start was much better. I held position and we all got through paddock and druids cleanly. I immediately noticed that there was a load of fuel spilling out of Ian Sheppard’s car. He had been involved in a shunt in race 1 and the damage had clearly caused a leak. Every left hander more fluid went down and I almost lost it, costing me a second on my lap. Ian was called in a lap later and I had some clear track. We had made some changes to the dampers, stiffing up the front and rear, and I pushed on. The car was a transformed and I suddenly had the front end I had been missing all day. I laid down some great laps and managed to close up the leading pack of 9 cars.

    Around Westfield, Sam Strong lost it after getting wide onto the grass, and almost in slow mo I saw him drift sideways. I held my breath hoping he would not shoot in front of us, we all just scraped past him at warp 9. I was really on the pace and I tried to get up to 7th but didn’t quite have the line around Clark curve to make it stick. The race was over and I was 8th! Really happy with that, beyond my hopes for my second ever race meet.

    At the end of qualification, the cars were inspected to see if some 5mm washers were present. 6 of the cars failed this test and the MSA scrutineers decided to ban the drivers from taking part at Brands, plus even look to take away points from Cadwell! This caused a big upset among the field as you can imagine. The washers are not actually a performance enhancing part, but rules are rules and it caught a load of people out. I felt for them, getting onto the circuit costs a load of time, help from friends, money, emotional energy. To have that all ripped away for something as small as a 5mm washer does seem harsh to say the least.

    Overall I have mixed feelings. I felt like a real rookie at times, and the inexperience showed. But I have to be happy about putting on a good performance in race 2. Roll on Silverstone National in a few weeks, plan is to qualify as high as possible and aim for some clean safe races.

  • Track Day: Brands Hatch GP 04.05.2017

    Met James Foard at Brands on Thursday to give me some experience before PBMW Round 2. As it was the GP circuit the day was split into 3 groups of 20 minute sessions each. First session was learning the lines of the GP track. I have done Brands Indy a few times now but the GP bit was all new.

    Session 3 and I was picking up the pace. With James in the car, on a damp track, I did a 1:53.6. Happy with that. I am expecting the Top 10 qualification times to be in the 1:50s to 1:51s, so I am on target, as the weight & damp cost us around 1.5 seconds. I will push as hard as I can on the day to get 10th on the grid.

    The final session of the day I went out on my own to see if I could replicate everything I had learnt. I had a close race with an E36 that was running in a different race championship. I was actually a lot quicker than him round the back through Westfield and Dingle Bell. We had pretty much the exact same power to weight, and we were level down the straights in terms of raw speed. It was good race experience following a car really closely. In the end after 3 laps he relented and I passed.

    Overall the day was productive. I had some major gripes though. It was oversold, overbusy. The group we were in had some frankly hilarious cars on track. Honestly, a Nissan Qashqai!! WTF was that about???? Moron for bringing that on track and then holding people up through the bends, pure dangerous. Next up in the idiot hall of fame was a bog standard Audi A6 Estate??? I was behind him and was flying, put him under pressure, he then goes off into the gravel as shockingly his tank doesn’t corner very well. Darwin Award nomination right there. Then we have all the Red Flag brigade. At Cadwell Park I had to sit through 5 red flags. Here it was 3. And right at the start of my God dam 20 minute session. If you can’t drive keep the f** off the race track. My love for track days has run out. I understand the need for them to be profitable but there surely MUST be a car restriction for the pure nonsense driving around at 15 miles an hour. I come to the track to avoid these slow twats on the road and OMG they have come to the track to drive slowly around HAHAHA, it would be funny if it wasn’t tragic. Other option would be to have a 1 hour slot where fast drivers can book on the day and have a limited number of cars in that slot. If I was lapping with 10 others then it would be good, you want some hot lap time, even if that cost a bit more.

    No video for the track day as the RoadHawk camera is now mounted but the passenger chair obscures the view.

    Roll on PBMW Round 2 on 21st May.