I completed the first round of the 2012 British GT Championship on Bank Holiday weekend 7-9th April at Oulton Park in Cheshire with the Predator CCTV Racing team…
Driving the Predator CCTV Racing Ferrari Scuderia we had a mixed weekend which started off well, I managed to set the 2nd fastest time during Free Practice 1 in heavy rain I was quite surprised to see that I had great pace from the start as with lots of 2012 spec. cars we weren’t sure if the Predator Ferrari would be so fast this year but it seemed to be in the wet at least as I was able to run at the front, I only did 3 fast laps and was P1 at the time, so to still be 2nd after an hour of everyone getting used the conditions we knew that we had a good wet setup for the weekend.
However for free practice 2 the weather was to dry up on Saturday and I could only manage the 9th fastest time and seemed to be struggling selecting gears, after the session the team stripped the gearbox and found a problem that wouldn’t be able to be fixed for the Qualifying sessions so both myself and Phil Burton would have to start from the back of the grid for both Bank Holiday Mondays 2, one hour races.
For Monday the weather was a monsoon and conditions were very slippy but I was confident we could make progress, I did a rain dance all day Sunday ! I knew we would be competitive in the Rain and the team Gerry Wainwright Motorsport had done a great job with the car getting it all back in working order ready for the Morning warm up on bank holiday Monday.
For Race 1 Phil Burton would take the start at the back of the grid in 27th place and in what was always going to be a hectic opening race of the season and started to make his way up the order setting very competitive lap times, until on lap 5 the Ferrari’s rear diffuser had been knocked loose and the stewards called the car into pit to repair the loose part, losing the team valuable time in the race, by the time I got in the car I was 3 laps down and too far behind to make any real progress so we came home in 16th.
Race 2 and I took the start and the weather was at it’s worse and visibility was very bad at the back of the field was the Race 1 leading Audi R8 LMS who was also the back of the grid after being disqualified from Qualifying for some technical infringement so I knew we would both keen to get up the order as fast as possible. As the lights went green it was just a case of trying to stay on the circuit, you couldn’t see a thing, there were 26 cars in front and the spray was unbelievable but I just did my best to keep out of trouble and kept picking off cars, after about 5 laps I saw that the Audi was in front of me, I hadn’t seen it at the start it must have moved ahead on the first few laps when cars were everywhere, it was clear I was a couple of seconds a lap faster than him but rather then letting me go and following me through the pack he blocked me and slowing us both down as we moved through the slower cars, I eventually got down the inside of him at the last corner and as soon as I was clear the Predator Ferrari was going really well, all credit to Avon tyres the new wet tyres were really working well in the heavy rain and I was able to start to real in all the cars in front, I was up to 10th place and could see 5-9th just in front of me if I didn’t get stuck behind the Audi I would have been able to climb much higher up the order and it looked like I was setting the fastest laps times of anyone at that point cause I had the info on my pit board, I came into pit to hand over to Phil after 35 minutes and Phil took to the circuit still in 10th place, and was looking good for a top ten finish when with 5 laps remaining got hit up the rear by a slower car he had just overtook and sent him into a spin eventually coming home in 13th position.
The whole team would have been pleased with a top ten from last on the grid, but it wasn’t to be, it was always going to be hard work from not setting a qualifying time and with all the work the team had to do to fix the gearbox.
Next race is at the Nurburgring in Germany on 19th May, hopefully we will have a bit more luck 🙂
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