Brands Hatch is my favourite circuit. It might have something to do with the fact that it happens to be my local circuit (only an hour away) and that I passed my ARDS test there. Regardless of that, Brands Hatch is great to drive on and a lot of fun. Paddock Hill Bend anyone?
Added to the excitement of the race was the fact that I would have family at the circuit. They hadn’t been since Rockingham so it was an added bonus to have them around to support me.
After an odd situation on the out lap for the qualifying session where some of the leading Boxter cars took it upon themselves to act as pacemakers for the rest of the field but neglecting to tell anyone else that this was happening and nearly causing multiple pileups, qualifying went well for me until it didn’t. Let me explain.
I managed to get myself some clear space unlike at Oulton Park and started to up my pace slowly to coincide with the fuel getting burned off the further into the session I went. And so it proved that most of my fastest laps were at the later end but with around 3 laps to go, I felt the engine lose power and had to coast back to the pits.
I had qualified fourth and on the second row which was terrific considering I could have gone faster but with the downer that the car had a problem and it could be a serious one. It was now a race against time as there was only two hours between the end of Qualifying and the start of Race 1
I didn’t make it. Another DNF which I didn’t need.
My mechanic Fudge could not fix the engine in time from what turned out to be a head gasket failure. Naturally I was gutted and more upset for my family than myself but luckily the good news was that the car would be ready for Race 2.
Watching Race 1 from the stands with the family was a bitter sweet experience as I kept thinking that I should have been out there. Nevertheless it was fun to watch the guys giving it everything.
To say that Race 2 was eventful would be a big understatement. You really need to watch the video to follow exactly what happened but essentially a loose bonnet pin ruined my race.
I had a good start and committed through Paddock Hill Bend and Druids (00:30) to end up fourth going through Graham Hill bend but I noticed straight away that my bonnet was not latched properly. A safety car on that lap should have meant a visit to the pits to get the bonnet fixed but not wanting to lose my fourth place, I gambled on being able to get away with it.
Unfortunately I was shown the Black flag with orange circle which meant that I had to go to the pits to get it fixed. That would have cost me at least a minute so instead I decided to ask one of the marshals to replace it for me (05:50). They did the best they could but unfortunately after the safety car restarts and a few more overtakes (07:00 to (16:00), the bonnet pin loosened itself again and I had to pit (16:05). This effectively ended any chance of a podium and hence my race.
A DNF and last place does not make for a good race weekend.
However, the circumstances in which things turned out the way they did were not under my control and hence I really couldn’t be too upset with myself. My performances in qualifying and the race were good (albeit not setting the world on fire) and I was looking forward to the final round of what has been so far, a very exciting season of racing.