Last weekend I had my first race at Collie Motorplex, which was also the second round of the West Australian Formula Ford Championship.
In qualifying, I managed to set the fastest lap time of a 47.7s lap. This secured pole position. However, during the session, unaware of the red flag which had just come out, I overtook a slow moving car. This small mistake had big consequences, as I was then forced to start the first race from the rear of the 12 car grid.
In the first race, I managed to get myself into 8th through the first corner. I then overtook for 7th at the 5th corner of the first lap. On the second lap, I was overtaken, and dropped to 8th, but I quickly regained this position at the next corner. The next lap I overtook at the 4th corner, to take 6th position. I then began to chase down 5th place. Whilst I was doing so, the driver running second suffered an engine problem which slowed him down, meaning I got into 5th place. I continued the chase of the driver who was now 4th. I caught up to him on the last lap, and missed 4th place by only 0.4 seconds. However in the process I also managed to beat the lap record by over half a second!
In the second race, I started from 5th. On the second lap, I made a move to take 4th position, but unfortunately carried too much entry speed into the next corner. About 4 laps into the race, following the train consisting of 2nd, 3rd and 4th; 2nd and 3rd both ran wide at turn 3, causing one driver to go into the wall, and the other driver to lose a lot of time. This elevated me into 3rd. As it is a very difficult circuit to pass at, I found myself stuck behind 2nd, trying every move possible (even considering going around the outside of a chicane at one point), but I couldn’t quite find a way past. I finished in 3rd. In this race, I again managed to beat my own lap record by a further 0.07 seconds.
In the third race, I started from third. Before this race had started, heavy rain had fallen on the circuit, and we were actually waiting for the first corner to drain of water before we could race. As I was on the inside row of the grid (where all the drift rubber was) it was very difficult to get a good start off the line, I ended up 4th by the first corner. After following 4th for a couple laps, I managed to overtake after the exit of the fourth corner. However, later in the race, I locked both the front wheels and continued straight into the dirt, dropping me to 6th place. I managed to rejoin and hold onto 6th for the remainder of the race. It wasn’t until after the race’s conclusion that I realised I had made a very simple mistake. At the start of the race, I had changed the brake bias to adjust to the wet weather. However, I managed to make the simple mistake of turning the brake bias dial the wrong way. This is why my front wheels had locked, and sent me off the track.
Overall, it was a weekend which had great potential, and one in which I had executed a lot of things very well. However a couple of simple errors had made it difficult. I will, in future, learn from these mistakes, and use that experience to my advantage in upcoming rounds of the championship. However, I am pleased with how I approached the whole event, and how I was able to execute under the pressure of qualifying and deal with the challenge of starting from the rear of the field to fight back toward the front.
I would like to say a huge thankyou to all my sponsors, everyone who followed my progress during the event and especially to Brett Lupton and Fastlane Racing for the huge amount of effort to work with me on the set up of the car.