Tuesday, September 11, 2012

An addicting glimpse into GT cars

Ginetta Challenge, my ambition for next year is finally decided. Huge thanks to Matt Kelly, and all the guys at Optimum Motorsport.

Monday, yesterday, I spent the morning with Optimum Motorsport, getting instruction in one of thier Ginetta Challenge G40s. Words can hardly explain the sensation of awesomeness I felt behind the wheel. Slicks are fantastic fun, and the sequential gearbox is just a pleasure to use. Turn in was direct, and the car can be driven on the throttle. The Caterham is a great, fun little car, but in Academy form, it doesn't so much dance around the track, as it jumps and bucks around the track. The G40 though, dances, glides and drives beautifully, smoothness is everything, and staying relaxed brings the lap times down ten fold. I clocked 25-30 laps around the Silverstone GP circuit, in the morning, sharing with a couple other guys. The instructors, and support team, are all great guys, they all know their stuff and it was awesome talking with them about the cars, and the series. It was a fantastic day I intend to repeat in the future.

After my short time in the car, I managed to get the lap time down to a reasonably quick time, a 2:38, considering I had an instructor in the car, and traffic, I was told it was pretty quick. For a first time out in the car, and my first time driving on slicks, I'm thrilled, and excited. I am really enthusiastic about the car and series, and now have the drive and ambition to race in the Challenge series next season. With 21 races in the season, all televised, it's a huge step in the right direction for me, and will lead to more opportunities in the future. I had my fun in the Academy, I have loved every second, but it's time to focus on moving forward in motorsport. It's time to get serious.

Video from my last session, a little spin at the end, just wasn't quite looking far enough ahead, and didn't find the apex of Village Corner.

Monday, September 3, 2012

A bit of a smash...

Just a small crash, minor skyward view, minor slam into the ground, and amazingly, minor damage.

Friday was testing at Snetterton, everything went to plan in the first session, I spent it finding my sights, figuring out where the car wanted to be on the track, and gaining confidence and speed. In the second session my gearbox finally gave out. 3rd gear has been crunching, and it was obviously the end of it, sadly it didn't make it to the end of the year like I had hoped it would. The Caterham guys worked magic and had a brand new gearbox in the car in 2 hours flat. Afternoon testing showed great pace, running in 1:28s, with a low 1:27 thrown in with some drafting. This should have put me right where I needed for qualifying, pole.

Saturday morning I went and marshaled, as part of the novice license you can marshal for a day to gain a signature on your upgrade license. Saturday afternoon was qualifying. I made a poor choice, and ended up choosing the wrong "fast" person to follow. With my fastest lap being the one after I left the pack at the front, I realized I didn't have the banker I thought I did. Oh well, 12th is fine, at Donington I drove from 12th to 5th in half a lap, without a safety car I was positive I could make it from 12th to 1st at Snetterton.

Sunday morning I was marshaling again, this time at the Montreal Hairpin. Out of the 6 races in the morning, there were 2 crashes or incidents at my corner. This did not bode well for the Academy. I left marshaling knowing without a doubt that there would be a crash in my race, I just didn't know who would be in it.

3:43 and I'm sitting on the grid waiting for the green flag lap, 100% focused on my start plan, and where I was going to put the car to move up the grid. 3:45 I was waiting for the lights, those red lights that start the race... they're out, I get a good start in first, but miss 2nd because the new box isn't run in yet, that's ok, focus on the corner and how to block passers. 3rd gear and I've taken 2 cars, right stick it on the inside, don't collect that car, hold wide, got him. #39 is the 3rd car I pass heading towards turn 2, the Montreal hairpin. I move to the inside of the track to make use of the space, and gain at least 2 more positions through braking for the hairpin. Hang on, people are locked, tire smoke filling my sights, nobody has spun yet though, I can continue attacking and gain places in the mayhem. Then smash! Someone span, just a second after I had made the decision to continue overtaking. With cars behind to the left and right, and 4 cars in front, I saw no way out, and decided to scrub speed as much as possible before impact.

The car has a bent A arm, 2 bent ball joints, and a few bent bolts, but that's it, and will be fixed by the end of the week. As you see, I failed to fasten my HANS device, a stupid mistake, one that will never happen again for as long as I am racing. However, luck played a huge part, and I have no injuries, no pains, and am fit and well, ready to race another day. Here is a series of photos, taken by Rachel, one graphically showing how high the front of my car went off the ground: http://www.rachelhorganphotography.com/photocart/index.php?do=photocart&viewGallery=10109#image=111482

Here's a view from behind me, showing just how few options I had open to me.

I will be spending a lot of time prepping for Rockingham, with the same fire and determination to win. There are also 2 more races I am intending to enter after that, non-championship, but my main goal is to upgrade my racing license, from National B to National A.

The next race is just a month away, there's work to be done, things to fix, no time at all to hang about and mope about not finishing a race.