2017 starts here!..A tough Oulton start but a win at Rockingham!
Posted on 6th April 2017
So the season is now in full swing, but it didn’t quite start as we expected….
We arrived at Oulton knowing that we were prepared and ready to challenge after showing great pace in testing which we duly converted into a double pole position in qualifying, with Seb and I both topping the time sheets in our respective qualifying sessions with two new qualifying lap records!…not a bad start!
However, the heavens opened for race day and we knew that we wouldn’t be able to challenge as strongly as if it was dry as the Bentley isn’t as suited to wet weather as some of the other GT3’s this was shown when at the start the superior traction of the Lamborghini breezed away, but I was very happy to stay in a strong second position and hand over the car to Seb who managed to bring us home in 4th against some of the best GT drivers in the world.
Race two saw Seb overboost the engine at the start and lose a couple of positions and when he then went on the attack it resulted in an unfortunate collision with our team mate dropping us down the order. However we recovered in what was a hugely chaotic race to finish 5th, which placed us 4th in the Championship, not as good as we would have hoped given we had started on pole position in both races but solid points and no damage was a definite bonus.
So we arrived at Rockingham knowing that we had no time penalty which put us in a strong position, in qualifying we struggled with set up and suffered traction issues with me posting the 4th fastest time and Seb posting 5th fastest and with the times combine we started 5th on the grid. Initially we were disappointed with this but we also know that this was a 2hr race so anything could happen.
We made some set up changes before the warm up on race day and immediately the car felt much better, we now had a car that could compete.
What followed was one of the hardest stints of my life, I had the run on the front 3 at the start but didn’t want to risk contact so played the waiting game and following a few considered moves and applying pressure to those in from I managed to bring the car in to the pit stop in 3rd position. However the fatigue had taken its toll, it was nearly 50 degrees in the car and the last 15 minutes I had started to feel distinctly unwell so when the pit call came I was incredibly happy knowing that I could have done no better.
Seb drove ballistically and caught the leaders dispatching them both to take the lead, but he was also hotly pursued by the factory Ferrari of Matt Griffin,…Seb defend resolutely until the Ferrari pushed Seb wide and causing to nearly spin on the marbles of rubber, this was later to be the deciding factor of the race result, Seb chased after the ferarri and was keeping pace knowing they still had a 5 second penalty to be added and we know that we only needed to stay within 5 second to win,…however when a safety car was deployed, they waved the Ferrari past in the confusion and picked Seb up as the race leader. It seems that the time penalty had been added meaning that on the road the ferry was leading however on the timing sheet he was in 4th….so when the safety car pulled in instead of a straight fight they had been gifted a 30 second lead!…Seb managed to bring this down to approx 24 seconds but the Ferrai crossed the line first,….we weren’t of course in any way happy with this however following the Stewards review the earlier contact on the rear of our car with clear image to the front of the ferrari and a broken rear bumper on our car it was deemed that this was a case of ‘Advantage by contact’ and the Ferrari was duly penalised and the race was ours.
We totally drove our hearts out all weekend and to finally win at Rockingham is an amazing feeling. All of team Parker were amazing, the pits stop was perfect and both Seb and I drove fast and considered stints, I have come knowing that we thoroughly deserved this result.
So now we are back in the championship fight in second place, and despite having to take a time penalty to Snetterton, one of our weakest circuits we will attack the weekend with everything we have and look to score more points, because i feel this championship won’t be won on wins alone it will be won on consistency, so that is our aim.
It’s amazing to be at the front of the most competitive domestic championship in the world and I couldn’t do it without you!
See you at Snetterton….let’s do this.