Round 6 of the Production BMW Championship @ Donington Park GP is now over. Generally a much better meet off track than before, but frustrating on track.
I did the track day on the Friday, which gave me a good chance to learn the circuit and set the car up. I was feeling pretty confident for race day, setting a good time in testing.
Race day started with a one of Barry’s famous PBMW driver briefings. He said the schedule was a bit crazy as cars were not allowed to start engines in the paddock until 09:00, due to local rules on noise. However we were all due to start our 15 min qually session at 09:05!?? So we were supposed to go out with a stone cold engine and car and have everyone lined up to go in that time? Yea right. So scrutineering was a real pain in the ass, having to push the cars around in the paddock! Really great planning there people…
After plenty of hassle, we were off. I managed to find enough space and set a really good time on my last laps. I ended up qualifying 5th for both races. Really pleased with that, and I was only 0.4 seconds off Andy’s 4th place time.
Race 1, and although it was supposedly dry, I managed to screw my start. I lost a few places, and settled into the pack in 7th place. As we came round the first lap and through the S-s there was a big incident in front of me, too many cars fighting for the same part of the track. In some ways I am lucky I had lost a few places as I would have been even more likely to be involved. I managed to back off a lot, and avoid the cars as they went spinning around me. Rob Cooper came flying through the field, from quite a few places behind me, and got tagged by one of the cars who smacked his door, he was really lucky he managed to keep going, and end up finishing 2nd. I finished 7th, with a car that had not taken any damage. Part of me thinks I should have been more bullying, but that is a big gamble, and my repair budget is small.
Just before Race 2, there was a big rain shower, soaking everything. Just what I didn’t need. I have never done a wet start in a PBMW, so I had no idea what to expect. I did my best, but span the rear tyres a bit, and had to be gentle on the throttle. A few of the cars behind me had a better start, and gained some ground. Suddenly, I was aware of being hit on both sides at once, and in a blink of an eye, I had no steering and was heading towards the right hand wall. I managed to stop the car before hitting the wall. I was out, I hadn’t even made the first corner!
As I got out the car I looked around and could see a scene of carnage. Three or fours cars were in a bad way and the race had been stopped. Rob Cooper, Gregoy Pryor, myself, David Smitherham were all stopped. Dave’s car looked the least damaged and he managed to restart the race. Rob’s and Greg’s cars were bent, and mine couldn’t be steered. We all retired to the paddock and discussed stories whilst waiting for our cars to be recovered. It took about 3 or 4 races later for the marshals to find a time slot to get them back to us. Rob’s was the worst, Greg’s following a close second.
In the paddock, the atmosphere was a little tense, after all the problems that have come out around GFR. It seems a lot of people are out of pocket, and it was the first time the ex-GFR drivers were with their new team. Everyone was being very friendly, and Graves did a great job of keeping all the cars running throughout the weekend. I am looking forward to everyone having a hopefully stress free final race at Snetterton in October.
Race 1 In Car Footage – FULL
Race 2 In Car Footage – Accident On The Start
My car’s damage