Sunshine greeted race day morning. In fact, today was a total reverse from the rain of Saturday morning. Air temperature was 19 degrees, late summer/early autumnal sunshine, clear skies. With the weather good, it was great to welcome my guests from R-Tech Welding Equipment, Alf Turner Butchers, ABE to the team and the sumptuous Renault hospitality.
As we all sat down for breakfast, I felt good. Really good. I was buoyed by my performance on Saturday; the hypothetical time of best sectors put as fastest (bar none) on the track on Saturday. I drove cautiously during Saturday’s race to preserve the car for a real attack during Sunday’s race.
The preparation from Team Pyro was first class. My engineer Pete Bennett had tinkered with the car and on the grid, I was determined to go for it. I started 15th, but with encouraging words from my girlfriend Alice, personnel from the team, Matt Allison and all my sponsors, I was ready!
As the lights went out, I was determined to drive the wheels off my Renault Clio. Into turn 2 – Becketts – I was shoved to the outside, and I lost track position. I knuckled down. Over the course of the next 4 laps, I was making good progress and passing many competitors.
Start of lap 5, coming out of turn 1; Copse. Another driver I had just over taken, clearly took exception to me moving past him cleanly. On the exit of the corner, I felt a “whack” to the rear. Post race inspection confirmed the serious the damage to the rear.
As a result of this hit, I had a “tankslapper” leaving me at 90 degrees to the circuit and I ended up colliding very hard. As we bounced and skipped across the grass, race ending damage was caused to the front of Clio. I toured slowly back to the pits. Race over.
Reviewing the footage from the excellent ITV Sport, proved that I was I involved in someone else’s accident. However, that is racing. We move on.
Immediate emotion was one of frustration. A few hours later, I realised a huge amount:
- The pace I showed in free practice, qualifying and both races was no fluke. Car and driver in total harmony
- My hypothetical best time – best sectors amalgamated – in race 1 on Saturday proved the speed I was demonstrating.
- This was only my fourth car race, and I was competing door handle to door handle with vastly more experienced drivers.
- I learnt plenty through the weekend that I will take forward to next season; I’m determined to be on the grid come round 1 at Brands Hatch in 2017
- My sponsors were amazing. To have 70+ people turn up to support me and enjoy the day was great. I take solace in their faith in me and the exposure that the Renault UK Clio Cup provides. Their words of support were massively welcomed and I hope I returned their faith.
We’re now going to return to the workshop and repair the damage and focus on being on the grid for the season closing Brands Hatch. Watch. This. Space.