Grand Prix day in Pau, and the atmosphere was fantastic!
Though the weather was looking unpredictable, the conditions were dry for Qualifying. We started the session on scrubbed tyres to be ready to go when all was warm and the track came to its best. All went well on this set and then we came into the pits for the switch to new tyres. Once I rejoined just as I was about to start my flying laps the session was red flagged.
There was enough time on the clock for 3 flying laps at the end, so still enough to set a lap time, however no sooner had I brought the tyres on that the rain set in and effectively brought the session to an end. As a result I qualified P13.
But the real drama was yet to start!
On the grid for the race conditions were once again dry, but rain threatening at any time. Yesterday a couple of drivers used wets on a mostly dry circuit, and their tyres were destroyed very quickly so we (like the majority of the field) elected for dry.
During the formation lap to the start line the drizzle started. Three drivers pulled into the pits to change on wets meaning they would need to start from the pit lane after the field had gone past. This ended up being an inspired gamble as one of them was Billy Monger who went on to win the race.
I started well and navigated the tricky first lap on the damp surface well. It wasn’t long before the first crash, and a safety car was put in action. This brought those who had switched to wets right back with the field and was a great break for them, particularly as all of the drivers on slicks now lost temperature in the tyres as the rain steadily increased.
Obviously on the restart the three on wets moved up the field. I continued to push on slicks and gradually moved up positions to 11th place as I kept my focus and others made mistakes in the difficult conditions.
In the final third of the race some drivers started to pit to change to wets as the rain continued with “rooster tails” starting to come off the back of the cars. We were committed so I continued on the slicks in the hope that the rain would stop. Even though conditions were worsening I was continuing to improve my sector times, so it seemed a reasonable gamble to take.
In the end the rain didn’t stop and we hit a point where 11th was secure and I simply was not going to catch those ahead in wet tyres so I called in to switch to wet tyres. My pace was good on the wets, but with the pit stop, and making it so late, we had lost a lot of time. However, I managed to keep my 11th position through until the chequered flag.
Racing on a street circuit is such a different experience to anything else I have raced on, and I have learned a huge amount. With neither qualifying working out, I am really pleased to have pushed forward in both races including making up 8 positions yesterday!
Thank you to my engineer and mentor Mick Kouros, and thank you to all at Fortec Motorsport including a lot of work to repair the car for Race 1.
Thanks to all my investors, and thank you to my sponsors Lazersafe, High Energy Service, Online Logistics Solutions, The Wealth Designers, Edith Cowan University, Grand Toyota, Fullworks Firesafety, Inspired Insurance Services, Rvend, Walker Wayland, F45 Hillary’s and Trizone.
Thank you of course to all for the support over the weekend and especially to my Grandfather for being here for this event and the next.
A couple of days off now, and then straight to Germany for Round 3 at Hockenheim!