Day 1 of my first international race meeting was made up of 4 practice sessions, the first and the last being an hour long, with the middle two being 45 mins each.
Even though I prepared on the simulator at Fortec last week, I haven’t been to the Paul Ricard circuit in France before obviously, so the first few sessions were to be about gaining familiarisation with the track.
There were wet conditions for the first session, so we were on wet tyres, but I was pleased with how well I became comfortable with the circuit, putting in some solid times in the conditions to finish 6th quickest of the 15 car field. This was even though there were a few dry laps for some at the end which I was not out there for due to a red flag before I could get out on slicks.
The second session was dry, and I was really pleased to finish 5th quickest on the timesheets with a 2:00.5 and was starting to feel very comfortable in the car, and we were able to start making some refinements for a couple of corners in particular.
In the third session things started well, and I put in some good laps on good used tyres, however before I could come in to change to my first set of new, an issue with the fuel pump forced me to pull over and red flag the session. The team were able to rectify this back in the pits, but I was not able to return out there for the second half.
The fourth session was very exciting, all teams in qualifying mode and I would think all like me using two sets of new tyres. This is great practice for me to learn the feel of the tyres, when to push and how much I can utilise the grip. On my second set I broke into the 1:59’s and finished with a lap of 1:59.6 to put me 6th on the timesheets amongst some very experienced drivers from all across the world.
Day 2 will involve a practive session (4pm Perth time), followed by qualifying and two races. This will be a huge opportunity for me to learn and develop and I am very much looking forward to it.