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.

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