2018 Round 8, Donington Park National
After a lengthy five week gap, the final race weekend of the season was held at Donington Park, on the National circuit. It’s a fantastically quick rollercoaster, which due to its slipstreaming nature produces close lap times and close racing. I stood 4th in the championship heading into the weekend, so my aims were to steal 3rd overall and to score a win after a string of recent podiums. With 64 cars entered, including 750 Motor Club champion Ben Short, it was going to be tough.
Ben was rapid in qualifying and set a time in the first session that blew everyone away. A hushed silence descended over all of us in the assembly area waiting to go out for the second session! I was pleased with my lap though, which was quickest in my session and just 0.2 off Ben’s. This gave me a second place start for race 1A.
The first race was crazy. As suspected, the slipstreaming kept everyone close, with the top 8 driving away as one group from the rest. Positions were swapping regularly; I led a few times in the first 15 minutes, but was mainly in second place. I was then overtaken at the chicane and slightly baulked, losing my momentum down the main straight; suddenly I was in 7th! I managed to get back into 5th place in the remaining laps and was just 0.5 seconds behind the winner at the flag in one of the closest finishes of the year.
Race 2A was equally as fraught. I started 5th and ran in 4th or 5th for the early part, but once again action at the chicane suddenly changed the race. This time I found myself in second place after the sort out, behind my AB Motorsport team mate Oliver Allwood. We worked together and as the fighting for third place started behind we were able to pull a nice gap. With two laps to go I just got underneath Allwood onto the main straight and took the lead, which I was able to keep all the way to the end. Winning an A race for the second time was a brilliant moment and a real highlight of the year!
We still had one race to go, and I would be starting in pole position. I led initially but was passed by Short, with Sam Smith following him through. Smith and I then fought side-by-side down the Craner Curves and I managed to take second place. The race was just boiling up nicely when a car further back dropped coolant at Coppice corner. I hit it and had no chance, burying myself in the deep gravel trap. I wasn’t the only one though, as 13 other cars joined me! Five managed to get out, including my rival for 3rd place in the championship.
So a slightly sad way to end the year, but I wasn’t too disappointed as we’ve had such a great season. I ended up fourth in the standings from the 92 registered drivers. Amazingly, there was an average of just under 50 drivers entered to each race weekend too, such is the popularity of this championship. With 11 podiums (including two wins) and eight fastest laps it has been a year containing many highlights.
Obviously I cannot go racing on my own, so I need to say a heartfelt thank you to Ali Bray and everyone at AB Motorsport for running me and setting up the car so well this year, my partners Cambridge FD, Freshcold, ValetPRO and Gibbs Reed Garage for their support, my family and friends for putting up with me talking about racing all the time, everyone at the BRSCC and finally my old man, without whom none of this would be possible.
Keep an eye on my website and social media over the winter and bring on 2019!