Sunday started well at Spa during the early morning Qualifying 2 session. Once again the weather was fine, and on the first set of new tyres I was able to set the 2nd quickest time and during the mid session lull where all were in the pits prior to headed out on the second set of tyres I remained in this position.
Something which I have learned is extremely important at Spa is the effect of the tow down the long straights that you get from being behind another driver. It is so important, that you cannot set a competitive lap time without benefiting from one. As such, there was a lot of game play in regards to positioning yourself behind others on the track and definitely not wanting to be the one at the front.
This game play became progressively worse across the qualifying sessions. At times, we were doing well less than 100km down the straights with no one wanting to take the front. The problem with this was that even when flying laps started, no one had heat in the tyres, which for many wrecked the start of that lap anyway, so then you had drivers pulling up mid lap to drop behind and try again.
For my second set of tyres the team held me slightly longer to make sure I was out late and could get the heat in my tyres when I did go out. This worked well, and I was putting in good sectors, however The way things worked out I just kept getting compromised by someone aborting a lap, or could not find an opportunity to gain a tow. As such in the dying seconds of the session I slipped to P9, once again inside the top ten, however, had things played out better this was looking to be much higher.
In the race I got away to a reasonable start, however a couple of errors in the first two laps put me well down the field where I then became caught up in battles, particularly with American Yves Baltas. I would take his position into turn 1, but then it was impossible to break away without him drafting me to retake the position at the end of the long Kemmel straight after Eau Rouge.
After repeating this for a few laps, I changed approach and let him go turn 1, so that I could take him at the end of Kemmel straight at which point I pulled away. However, with a 5 sec gap now to the pack of drivers ahead, I was now without the benefit of a tow, but over the next few laps I started to pull them in.
Unfortunately in the process of this dicing, I had put my tyres through a lot, and I then found myself lacking grip particularly through the very fast turn 10 which I had found the most difficult all weekend. I went very wide there late in the race which once again allowed Baltas back in my tail.
I finished the race 14th, which was a frustrating result given the pace we had, and the great result we had achieved in Race 1.
However, coming to Spa was going to be a massive challenge for me, never having been there before and having only 3 practice sessions to come to grips with 19 corners many of which are some of the most challenging in the world – and all at an average speed of nearly 190kph! So to come away having come 7th in Race 1 (setting the fastest time in sector 1), and once again qualifying both times inside the top ten is something I am really pleased with. Getting on the pace quickly at a circuit has been a focus which I have achieved here, and particularly in Race 1 I put into practice many of the lessons I have been learning over here in Europe.
Thanks to Tom, Gerard, John along with Jamie and all the team at Fortec for the amazing car to drive. Thanks to Tom and Cory also for all the preparation work analysis for videos and working on the sim leading in to the event.
Thank you to all behind my racing, and of course my team of sponsors Lazersafe, High Energy Service, Rosehill Waters, TWD, ES2, Edith Cowan University, Kingsway Community Bank Branch, Grand Toyota, Fullworks Firesafety, Rvend, Inspired Insurance Services, Online Logistics Solutions, Walker Wayland, Focused Recruitment, Signarama Joondalup, F45 Hillarys and Trizone Fitness.
I’ve had a huge amount of support online this week, so thanks as always to everyone who is following my racing for the messages of support.