Rounds 7, 8 and 9 of Season 2 would all be sprint races fought out across UK tracks. First up were 2 30 minute sprints around a boiling hot Donington Park. The ambient temperature was in the high thirties and the track temperature just below 50. This would mean tricky driving conditions, particularly in the second half of each race as the tires started to degrade. To try and combat this I worked hard on my consistency and had my brake ducts wide open, trying to get as much air cooling as possible.
For the first race I qualified 9th of 12, in between Terry and Brian. Other than a little bit of paint swapping with Brian I got a clean start, making up a position when Ant spun at the old hairpin on the opening lap and finishing the lap 1.2s behind Jörgen. Lee and Terry were fighting hard over 5th and Jörgen and I started to catch them until Lee came off at McLeans. Jörgen started to pull away from me so I concentrated on running my race and let him pull ahead.
On lap 8, with Lee closing in on me I made up another position after Terry ran off track at McLeans too. I managed to keep Lee behind me until the end of lap 17 when he got a run on me out of the Goddards hairpin. To keep him behind me I kept a tight line into Redgate but it was to much for my worn out tires, especially the left rear and as I got on the power the car lost traction and spun round with less than 4 minutes to go. Luckily, Terry was about 20s behind so I didn’t lose any more positions and brought the car home in 7th. Not a bad result but I was disappointed I’d not been able to hold on to 6th.
For the second race, my qualifying was no better and I lined up in between Ant and Brian. I got another clean start (as did everyone) and followed Ant until he got a wheel on the dirt in the Craner Curves and span, giving me an easy 8th place. I had a gap to Jörgen in front of about 4s which I knew would be hard to close so I settled in for some consistent laps, trying to make the most of others mistakes.
My patience started to pay off on lap 6 when I caught Jörgen on the straight after he’d made an error at Coppice and then again on lap 15 when Jack made an error at the Old Hairpin and Lee and I got past. With 6 minutes left, I now had the championship leader Jack breathing down my neck and a set of cooked tires. Everything fell apart from I got on the power to early at Coppice and the car spun me around and into the wall dropping me down to 8th behind Jörgen. I couldn’t catch him and thought I’d have to settle for 8th until Lee pulled over on the final lap just before Goddards – he’d run out of fuel, gifting me 7th place.
The biggest lesson I learned here was the value of finding your own pace and running at that. After the Spa race I’d put a lot of effort into my consistency and managed to get it up 9 points across both races (Car Control was up by 1 and Safety by 2 too).
I was bit frustrated my my mistake at Coppice which had cost me 6th… which could have been 5th but never mind. I’d always known that Coppice and McLeans were my achilles heal and at least I’d only crashed at one of them. Spinning while fighting Lee was one of those things – maybe I should have let him go as he was quicker than me?
I’m looking forwards to Brands Hatch next week although I always do badly there… time to get to work on that consistency again!