After the heartache of Brands Hatch, I arrived at yet another circuit that I’d never raced on before. Donington Park is quite unique in that it lies very close to East Midlands Airport. 400 yards away in fact which means that when you’re executing a turn on the circuit, it’s all too easy to get distracted by a Boeing 747 taking off!
Having said that, Testing went very well and I learnt the circuit with its fantastic Craner Curves very quickly. Although we did have an issue in the last session when we heard something falling off the car but couldn’t be sure what it was.
Nevertheless, I was looking forward to qualifying and seeing how fast I really was against the field.
It later turned out that the bit that fell off the car during Testing was an alternator part. Fudge couldn’t replace the Alternator in time for Qualifying so that meant another start from the back of the grid. I was very disappointed especially considering that in order to secure third place in the championship, I had to beat my fellow competitor Dave Jones in every race. No easy task and not made easier from this calamity.
Race 1’s defining moment came at 1:42 when I was executing a pass on Dave Jones through what I deemed to be a very big gap which Dave tired to close. We touched, Dave spun and I went into the gravel trap backwards.The Clerk of the Course decided that it was a dangerous manoeuvre instead of a racing incident and gave me two points on my racing license. Please judge for yourself whether it was a fair move or not.
Regardless, I did pass Dave Jones after a safety car period for a big shunt involving Hugh Peart and Paul Bravo and ended up fourth which I was quite pleased with.
I lined up fourth on the grid for Race 2 and other than a pass on Karl Rossin (02:20) to take third place, there wasn’t much I could do on the front runners Simon Hawksley and Alastair Kirkham as they pulled away into the distance. A pretty quiet race but again happy to be on the podium and ahead of Dave Jones.
Race 3 was far more entertaining for me as I spent the majority of the race glued to the back of Alastair Kirkham’s car trying to get by in order to get my first win. Unfortunately, no matter how hard I tried, I couldn’t manage it. My car’s straight line speed simply could not keep up.
Regardless, it was a fun race and I finished second. Once again, ahead of Dave Jones and securing my third place in the championship table. Or so I thought.
To finish fourth, third and second meant that I had my best weekend of racing since my first race at Silverstone. More importantly securing third place in the championship would be just reward for a year in which I’d shown that for someone who’d never raced before, I had the pace to be competitive and shown an aggressive style that is attractive to watch.
Unfortunately, the incident in Race 1 in which I’d received penalty points meant that I would end up in fourth place in the final standings. This was due to a race series regulation that stipulated that any points on the license would be doubled and taken away from the final score. It was a bitter pill to swallow.
However, overall I had so much fun and learnt so much in my first year that it didn’t really matter. I’ll do better next year.
It’s been emotional.