Tuesday, April 2, 2013

Ginetta Challenge round 1, races 1-3

-Race videos are uploading, be patient and they'll come in and be part of the blog page, and the videos page-
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Oulton Park, what can be said about that track... It's fast, flowing, and intimidating, and quite frankly, fantastic. It's one of the best, and most technical track I've driven, and up there with Laguna Seca as the most fun I've had driving a track. Friday 29th was the test day, and allowed me to get out on track for the first time, and what a track it is. By session two I was working purely on bringing the lap times down, eventually getting to a 1:59. However, the slicks I was running wouldn't allow for anything less than that. They were quite old, and just weren't capable of the grip needed to go faster.

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Friday afternoon I was presented with the gloves and boots of my MOMOUK deal. MOMO know what they're doing, honestly, what beautiful gear. The gloves are comfortable and fit like... gloves... good clean craftsmanship. The boots are comfortable, and fit my wide feet well, plus the look awesome in black and red! Through the in-car videos, you can see the fitment for the gloves, and how well they grip the wheel and gear knob.

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This was the first piece of competitive driving I've done since last October, and it was stacking up to go pretty well. a 1:59 or 58, very doable with the times I was posting the day before, would have put me within the top 12 on the grid, a solid starting point to work from. However, I had forgotten that the day before I was running almost full rear brake bias to deal with the old tyres. This combined with relatively cold tyres sent me into the gravel on lap 3. The rear wheels locked as I braked for Cascades, a fast left hander that goes down hill. The braking point is a crest in the road, and due to the brake bias the rear wheels locked, and sent the car into a spin faster than you can imagine. Thankfully I had completed enough laps to race, and gained a p19 start for race 1 (2:02 lap time) and a p23 start for race 2 (2:08 lap time). Race 3 grid positions would be the results of race 2.

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-Race 1-
I wasn't particularly happy with my qualifying results, who would be, but I put it behind me and focused on the race. Something I was always good at in Caterhams was starting, though the G40s are a new car, and require a very different technique for getting them off the line. As this was the first race of the year, and only the 3rd time I had done a race start in a G40, my usual ability to take 4 cars on the pit straight may not happen. It did turn out to be a rather good start, the G20s behind had a little jump due to their lighter chassis, but I gained a G40 on the start, and went into the first corner ready to take the G20s between T1 and T2. Round T1 and there are spinning Ginettas everywhere, with lots of traffic, no time to think about overtaking, just avoid, get through clean and take the positions during the rest of the lap. I made it through the mayhem, and continued the race. With some clean overtakes, and one place lost to another G40, I finished in a comfortable and successful 10th place, 9 places up.

Throughout the race my lap times had been getting faster as my time on the track had gone up, and my confidence in the car had improved. I made it into the low 1:58s by the end of race 1, a good time considering how little track time I had. I gained 11 championship points for 10th.

Race 1 video:

-Race 2-
After the crazy start to race 1, surely race 2 would be a bit calmer, and there would be fewer crashes and issues. Nope, not at all! A major crash stopped race 2 before a full lap had been completed. Several front runner G40s span and collided, but the major crash was between a G20 and a G40. Amazingly, I managed to thread the needle through spinning Ginettas and avoid incident... well, except for a graze down the drivers side!

For the restart, the cars were re-gridded in our original positions, so I was still way down in 23rd, and the spinners from upfront were back safe and sound in grid. Lots of work to do then. Brilliant! My restart was not quite as good as the first, but was still quick and pulled the time back as we got to the first corner. I was up 2 positions by the end of T2, and ready to gain more as the race went on. My team mate Jason Kenny was my closest rival for race 2, with him finishing just in front of me in 13th. In race two I realized I needed more time in the car to gain the confidence to make passes and defend. I lost 1 or 2 places because I couldn't adequately defend my position, which was frustrating. With work, simulator time, and a couple test days at Rockingham to sort out, round 2 with race 1, 2, and 3 will be ones to watch. Through race 2 I had brought my lap times even closer to the 1:57 mark, a 1:58.1. 7 champ points earned for 14th.

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Race 2 mayhem 1st start:

Race 2 restart video:

-Race 3-
I was starting very very close to the top 10 this time, in 14th place! I was ready for whatever this race would bring, even alien intervention. After avoiding the mayhem of both races 1 and 2, I was confident in being able to handle whatever came my way. Jason Kenny, in 13th, and I both got solid starts keeping our car on the black stuff, allowing us pull up to 9th and 10th by the end of T2. After a number of 1st lap dives trying to get past Kenny, I had a couple very bad lock ups going into the 2nd chicane, leading to a gap forming. However, I was running faster lap times, well into the 1:57s and low 1:58s, I would gain, then lock, lose out, gain lock, lose out. After the 3rd straightline I remembered my brake bias, and adjusted one full turn backwards. This fixed the locking and I started gaining on P9 and 10 again. Two yellow flag zones, on the second to last lap meant I was right on the tail of 10th place Pointon. Not quite being able to make the move for the last lap, I got a fantastic run out of the last corner, but couldn't quite make the pass before the finish line. Fastest lap a 1:57:7, just 4 seconds off the fastest lap of the day, by someone who knew the track and cars better than I. I know the potential for myself to set fastest laps is there, time in the car at Rockingham and the remaining tracks will prove as such. 10 champ. points for 11th.

Race 3 video:

All 3 races were fantastic, I loved driving every single minute of them. For Rockingham I will be putting in some much needed seat time at test days and in the sim. I can't deal with not having the confidence to drive to my full potential any more. The media day let me see how fast I can be in that car, right down the throats of podium finishes, I'll only get there with seat time. I'm working harder than ever to make this happen, as it is ever more important to me to show my pace.

After all that happened this weekend, I ended up 10th in the championship! Room for improvement, but a good solid base to start a charge for the top 3.

That's all folks, tune in for blogs throughout this off-month, as I'll still be doing track bits!

Rockingham is on the 5th and 6th of May, come say hello, check out the car, and see how awesome the Ginetta series atmosphere is.

I know you like the look of the new MOMO gear, so use the link here on the site to go check their gear out! Get your own sexy Italian racing gear, steering wheels, and more.

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