FF1600 National Championship – Oulton Park 6th May
After last time at Oulton Park it was quite challenging to find my feet again for my first race on the FF1600 national grid. Testing was spent further familiarising myself with the track in order to build myself up to the limit, but the pace at the start of the weekend wasn’t there which put me 13th on the grid for qualifying out of 34 cars.
In race 1 I was continuously bettering my speed with each lap becoming my fastest, managing to work my way through the field into 8th after 5 laps and held my position. I was constantly being put under pressure by the competitors behind me but was able to defend well which taught me more about race craft. In the later stages of the race, I struggled to put out a quick time due my tough defending. The Ray race car seemed to stay pretty constant throughout the long and tiring 20 minutes around Oulton Park. Crossing the line in 8th at the front of the train of cars behind me was a nice way to finish race 1 at a track I had so little confidence at.
Race 2 I started 8th on the grid with the knowledge that I was going to have to work very hard from the start again if I wanted to keep my position. By the time of the second race however I was putting out good competitive lap times. I stopped looking in my mirrors and focussed only on the cars in front of me and got up into 7th position. Not a lot of defending was needed in this race compared to the last one as I was able to pull a comfortable gap from the cars behind me. I was then able to focus on further learning, and improve myself with each lap around the circuit. Bringing the car home in one piece in 7th was a good way to end the Saturday race day at Oulton Park, and prepare for the travel back to Scotland in order to race on Sunday at Knockhill for the SMRC championship.
SMRC FF Championship – Knockhill 7th May
After coming straight from a tough race at Oulton, I was ready to be put straight into qualifying on Sunday morning at Knockhill without having been able test the car, unlike the other competitors. I struggled a lot with the car experiencing huge amounts of understeer around every corner which frustrated me, as well as on lap 3 the fire extinguisher going off in the cockpit which was off-putting I can assure you . I knew something could not have been right with the car as I know for sure that the team never fail to give me a mega car. After a very frustrating qualifying, I placed the car 3rd on the grid for race 1.
When I got back to the team garage, I reported the issues I was facing and Josh Kerr (my mechanic) along with Graham Brunton (team owner), managed to work out the problem. Both my front dampers had seized which meant when I was braking into a corner, the dampers were not compressing, hence the understeer. Due to the race 1 creeping up fast, we were not able to swap the rear dampers which had a slight issue as well.
Race 1 starting on P3 on the grid, I managed to get off well from the line when the lights went out, putting me in P2 by the time I reached the first corner. This allowed me to tag on behind the leader (my teammate) and both of us pulled away from the rest of the field which allowed us to have our own battle. Frustratingly once again, another competitor dropped a whole load of engine coolant around the racing line of the track. With the combination of my faulty rear dampers and slippery surface, this made the car very difficult to keep on the track. Lap after lap, I was being given warning flags for ‘exceeding track limits’ and eventually being awarded a 5 second time penalty. Crossing the line in 2nd place, due to the time penalty I received, I was dropped back to 4th in the grid. I was not happy about this decision for obvious reasons although I could not argue with the official’s decision.
Race 2 I started 4th on the grid and repeated my great start to get to P3 by the time I reached turn 1. By lap 3 I made a lunge going into the hairpin and grabbed P2. The race was hard as I could not get a clear lap to put down some quick times to pull away from the competitors behind me as I was constantly having to either defend or try and make an overtaking move. I lost the 2nd position and dropped back down to 3rd although with 3 laps to go a competitor made a very stupid move going in to turn 2 while I was defending it and crashed into me which put me in the gravel, ending my race with a ‘DNF next to my name for race 2.
After the race I was notified that this competitor was disqualified from the race after “reckless driving”, although I still wasn’t too pleased at not being able to complete the race in 1st place, far less able to complete the race at all!