Round 8, Donington
Donington Park is one of my favourite circuits and I was happy that we were heading there to finish off the season. Since the previous round at Croft, we had worked to resolve the engine power problem and we were optimistic that the performance would be better. We wouldn’t be able to find out until qualifying though, as I was unable to test on the Friday. With a record 70 cars entered for the meeting, it was going to be a real test!
I wouldn’t say missing the test day held me back a great deal, but it did make me appreciate them. The first few laps in qualifying were spent getting up to speed, but I was soon in the groove. With so many cars entered finding space was a little tricky, but I finished up just 0.5 seconds away from the fastest time in my session and 14th overall. I was not only pleased that the power had improved, but also with my own performance.
I had a strong first lap and got up to 12th, the race being one long line of MX-5s at that point. On the second lap there was a huge shunt just in front with a car sideways in the middle of the road. I took to the grass in avoidance and was lucky; others were not so. No one was hurt, but there were a lot of bent racing cars. The red flags flew and we started all over again.
Another 2 places were mine in the first lap of the restart, so I was into the top 10. A school boy error followed and I dropped down 4 spots, but the race was still on and before long I was moving back up the group fighting for 7th. I didn’t think the top group were much quicker, so wanted to bad a good grid slot for race 2. The engine decided against my masterplan though and I started to lose power. Ultimately I had to retire the car.
A piston ring had broken and rebuilding the engine is not a job to be done trackside. So unfortunately, that was home time for us. A sad end to the year, especially when we had looked to be going so well.
Overall, I finished up 11th out of the 95 drivers registered in the championship. That’s pretty pleasing, but I really wanted to be top 10. With 6 no scores out of 24 races, that was always going to be hard. Well done to champion Will Blackwell-Chambers and thank you to AB Motorsport, TT Engineering, my Dad and all the sponsors for what was a great learning year. I’m aiming to return in 2018, and I’m hungry for some wins!