Wednesday, June 19, 2013

Snetterton 2013, found race pace, ran out of luck.

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(©Jakob Ebrey -

Sure seat time has a role to play, along with driver errors, but luck is second only to driver skill when it comes to making it onto the podium. Luck determines whether you get stuck with nowhere to go in a crash, or if you pick up a puncture or alignment damage. Skill gets you the speed, luck gets you the win.

Bad luck is what I had at Snetterton.

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(©Jakob Ebrey -

Qualifying went really well, with rain just before we hit the track, the field was bound to be mixed up. As the track dried out, luck said that the car destined for the checkered flag span on the last corner allowing me to slip by and pick up that one last flying lap that slid me happily into P4, my best qualifying of my rather short racing career. P7 was my second fastest time, and my second best outright qualifying position of all time, brilliant, two solid starting points for both races, right on.

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(©Jakob Ebrey -

Race 1... P4 on the grid, 2nd row, just 2 cars in front of me, just two... Calm and collected we entered turn 1 3 wide. 2 G40s and one G20, as the 20s get ripper starts, he was up there fighting for position. Now, it could be argued that he had no right to be there, as he's in a different slower car, and fighting for position with 40s just screws everybody over... but it's not always there in black and white. P2 span going through turn 1, causing the 20 to smash into the side of me, damaging my rear wheel alignment, and sending me right to the back of the back... Like I said, luck. Both the 20, and the car that span from P2 didn't finish the race due to damage. I however, did. I went into the pits on the first lap to make sure I hadn't picked up a puncture, and that any hanging body work could be ripped off, left the pits and continued the race, now 1 minute and 40 seconds behind the lead car. My car was crabbing really badly, to the extent I was driving down the straights with my steering wheel turned 90* to the right. Through the corners the car was even worse, unstable and unpredictable. Somehow I wrestled it around for 7 laps, putting in a clean 2:13.5, matching my best testing time of the day before... something inside me had clicked... something just seemed to be working now... I was driving quickly, after 3 months of trying to figure out how, I had cracked the code, and everything just fell into place!

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(©Jakob Ebrey -

Race 2, P7, I surely couldn't get the same bad luck as race 1, I knew I could work my way up the pack and fight for that podium with my new found speed. Guess what, bad luck struck again... You know, race 2 is so exciting to watch, I'm not going to tell you any information, you'll just have to watch it! It's my opening lap, and my fastest lap back to back. 2:11.7, 0.8 off the lead cars pace. I defintely had the pace, just not the luck. Absolutely insane. 

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(©Jakob Ebrey -

Race 3 I was ready for, really wanted to show that pace and pick off the places to the top. Again turn 1 I had an incident, not sure but it felt like I had a little help with my spin, but considering I was out on the rubber tire marbles from the GT race just before, it's entirely plausible that the car just lost grip. Again I had work to do... I enjoy overtaking, and racing up the pack, but it's not what I want, I WANT that podium, I need it... By the time we crossed the line for the end of lap 2, I had picked up 8 places and gone from 26th to 18th. By lap 4 I had moved up to 14th place. From lap 2 onwards, I was on the speed, through the traffic and slower G20s, I was well into the 2:13 lap times, and for the remaining laps, with minimal traffic, I put in another set of 3 2:12.0 lap times, just like race 2. I finished that race p14

Unfortunately I don't have race 3 video, or footage of the crash in race 1. The crash I really didn't feel like watching at the time, and I just wanted to ignore it and move on, remember the mood and zone I had just found to keep the pace.

Race 3s file format is incorrect, and I haven't figured out how to change it and make it work.

Here's a great comparison video between my fastest race lap (top) and my fastest test lap (bottom).

Spa is next, and with my new found confidence, speed, and calmness... Well, I'd say that to have my first podium, even my first win, be at Spa, I would be lost for words, and simply ecstatic. SIM time for learning Spa, and some time in the car at Silverstone will just cement my new driving style, and improve that first podium chance.

My MOMO gear was flawless as always, kept me cool and comfortable in every race. click on the MOMO logos here on the site to go look at getting your own great gear.

The guys also did a great job fixing the car up after the incidents, making sure it was race ready well in time. Fantastic work by the Optimum Motorsport boys as usual.

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(©Jakob Ebrey -

Saturday, June 1, 2013

Almost felt the podium under my feet... Silverstone - round 3, races 7, 8, & 9

Well, the title give a little bit away, really it's just to get you interested. And interested you should be... Round 3 was on the magnificent Silverstone Grand Prix track, a dream venue for many, my personal favorite, and my "local" being just 40 minutes away.

For Friday testing it was raining, heavily at one point, to the extent visibility went down to what hit the windscreen. Earlier in the day however, the track was dry enough to be running pretty quick on wet tyres, not quite dry enough for slicks though. A few select corners stayed slippery, and if you went in just a little too fast they turned round and bit your head off! Because of that, I had a spin going through Stow, a fast right hander at the "bottom" of the track.

Qualifying went really well, I went out at the start of the session with my heart already running 150bpm because there had been a wiring fault it was running on just a couple cylinders. We found this just 20 minutes before needing to head out for qually, and because of the shear awesomeness of the team (Steve and Dom mainly) I arrived in assembly with about 5 minutes to spare, didn't miss a thing! Really great job by the guys to get the car out, brilliant. Began the session and put two banker laps in, then popped into the pits to take a break and check tyre pressures. Shot back out and manage one last flying lap that put me 9th on the grid for race 1, with a time 2 seconds faster than earlier, 2:29.5. 2:31 put me 12th on the grid for race 2.

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(©Jakob Ebrey -

I do have to praise MOMO yet again, as the whole weekend it was sunny and warm, yet in the car driving I stayed the coolest I ever have. The suit, gloves and gear in general just breathes better than anything I've experienced. Highly recommended and great quality. Check out their website through the links here, and give them a follow on twitter! - @MOMOUK1

Race 1, a glimpse at what is to come. 9th was my second highest starting to date, and I managed to capitalize on that moving up to 6th in the first few laps. On lap four, going into "the loop" some marbles or oil or something had found its way onto my tyres when making the pass for 6th 2 corners earlier. This span me round while trail braking to make the apex... All cars behind made it passed without contact or issue, however after I got restarted I was 13th, 3 seconds behind 12th place.

I had work to do.

A few quick maneuvers and my weekends fastest lap, 2:28.5, meant I was hot on the exhaust of P7 with 1 corner left in the last lap... I'll let you watch the video to see what happens!

Race 2, p12, not an abnormal starting position for me... not something I'm proud about, but it does mean I've had lots of practice passing people! With the G20s right behind, I knew one or two would get ahead of me on the start, they always do, so I just focused forward, knowing they'd soon drop behind. I managed to pick up 2 spot on the start, and then over the next couple of laps moved my way forward place by place, taking a total of 3 positions on the first lap. now p9 I settled in and focused on catching the group I had lost while gaining the previous places. It was a very clean race, and on the final lap I had a great scrap with Ben Hyland, where we each left each other millimeters of racing space while fighting for that 6th spot. Check the video out!

Race 3... starting p6 for race 3, just like Rockingham. But unlike Rockingham I was determined not to go backwards the whole race... not through lack of pace anyhow. The red light went out and p2 bogged the start, but I managed a clean quick start and stormed 5th into the battle for 2nd with 3 other drivers. Through turn 1, p5, front wheels inline with the rear of p4 coming up to maggotts and becketts, a left kink followed by a slower right hander, which I was perfectly set up to take the inside line for. Woohoo! Through turn two and in 3rd! Took 4th under braking and with my car on the apex p3 had to stay wide. Ben Hyland had followed me through and was hot on my tail, with Oliver Basey-fisher breathing down our necks wanting his p2 back from the start. Through lap 1 I held my ground, and kept pace well with the top 2, while defending heavily from the two behind, losing out and sliding into 4th at the last corner. P4 was now in need of serious defending, Hyland wanted that spot. I held it for another lap and a half, until a snap oversteer threw me out of the fight and nearly into the wall. Returning to the track in 10th, 2 seconds behind my teammate Thiago Calvet, I again found myself with work to do after running in the top 3... Unfortunate. Well, I knuckled down and threw down the times, working my way up and passed competitors, working my way into 8th place, a mere .7 seconds of 7th.

This video is the most exciting by far... P3 by turn two from 6th on the grid.

I am over the moon with my progress, very little testing, and when you consider this is my first real full season racing, and I didn't kart when I was younger... The future's bright and exciting, follow it all here, or be a part of that future and contact me for info!

Speed, pace, and race craft are definitely coming on strong, bit more time in the car and I'm sure I'll be giving the seasoned drivers a good run for their money.

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(©Jakob Ebrey -

My hope is to get testing in immanently, make my feet feel that podium, with the cold glorious trophy in my hand!