The fifth round of the championship was held at Zolder – two sprint races in variable and wet conditions. Taking the lessons from Kyalami I did quite a bit of prep for this event and although I was still struggling a bit with consistency I was able to identify the problematical parts of the track and why (mainly standing water) and find ways around them. I knew both races would be about staying on and was determined to hold my concentration and do just that.
After some very wet practice sessions, the conditions improved for qualifying and the race, although it took me a while to get comfortable. I lined up 12th out of 15 which wasn’t that bad when I was really wanted to avoid any carnage at the first corner. As the lights went out I got a good start but hit Brian at Turn 1 doing light damage to the front of my car and dropping to 13th behind Matt and Lee. I passed Matt on the run down to Bolgerbergbocht although he hit me, giving us both an SA penalty.
As others had accidents and pitted I finished the lap in P10, 5.1s behind Brian. I caught him after a couple of laps and was looking forwards to a battle when he got caught out in the standing water on the exit of Earste and I was able to get past while he recovered. With Jörgen close behind me I then made a mistake allowing him and Brian past and dropping me back down to 11th.
I then spent a few laps fighting with Brian until he made an error at Lucien Bianchibocht and I made the pass on the straight leading to the Kleine chicane. From there I started to pump in a series of fast, consistent maps and as I gained confidence my CN started to increase. I finished the race in 9th which I was really happy with.
For race 2 the rain got a lot heavier – grid was harder to find and lap times were a lot slower. My qualifying for this race was was no better than the first. As soon as the race started I was hit in the rear before arriving at the first corner. Thankfully no damage was done and I was able to continue – on the same lap I span at the kink between Terlamenbocht and Bolgerbergbocht, coming to rest against the armco. I was then hit by the same driver who’d pushed me off at Turn 1. I limped back to the bits and with over 2.5 minutes of repairs called it a day and went for a beer.
I was really happy with Race 1, having driven consistently throughout the race maintained my concentration throughout. I was disappointed in myself to have hit Brian at the start (I apologised) and frustrated at the mistake that had allowed him and Jörgen to pass me. I’d made the spaces back and was unlikely to have caught the quicker drivers in front of me so no harm done.
After I good race I was looking forward to driving in the trickier conditions and was really annoyed to be taken out of the race so early on. So annoyed that I couldn’t face continuing. The DNF in the second race dropped me a few positions in the championship but it did bring me closer to me rivals who’d missed a round so maybe it’ll turn out better in terms of excitement?
At the end of the session, my SA had dropped a point to 68 after the contact with Brian and Matt. The contact with Brian I was ok with but was frustrated with the contact with Matt which was unnecessary. My CC score dropped a couple of points to 84 but I was happy to improve my consistency score by 10 points to 87. Improving that metric was something I’d been struggling with for a while and all those clean laps made a real difference.
Now it’s on to Spa for a double points paying one hour endurance race in the dark. I always enjoy Spa so I’m looking forward to this one.