In many ways, one of my best days of racing yesterday at Spa.
We knew from Saturday that we had strong pace in both qualifying and the race, so we went into Sunday with a lot of confidence. As I explained in my Saturday report, the tow effect from being behind another car is a very big factor in both qualifying and racing at Spa, so not only do you need the pace, but you also need to manage your position on the track to ensure you do get a tow – or stay in the tow in respect to racing.
On the first set of tyres in qualifying I managed myself on the outlap to be really well placed for my first flying lap. On this lap I set a time in the low 2:12’s to put myself in P1 on the timesheets. A perfect qualifying lap at Spa is one in which you a positioned just the right distance back from the car in front to be within range of receiving the slipstream down the long Kemmel straight at the start of the lap, put together a good middle sector, and then are still catching the car ahead for a second tow along the last straight (long bend) into the last chicane. In my second flying lap I managed to do just that, setting purple sectors S1, and again S2. However, coming into the last chicane I caught the car in front, so had to make a move to keep my lap alive which I managed to do setting the fast 3rd sector and to improve my time on top with a 2:11.4.
My time stayed on top up until around 23 mins of the 25min session, and on my flying lap on my second set of tyres I looked like I was going to be able to better it again. I set the fastest first sector of the session, but then in the second sector hit a pack of cars where a number were aborting laps and held me up. In the end I qualified P6 which I was really pleased with and was a fantastic reward for the team who have worked so hard to produce a fast car for me to drive.
Starting P6 for the race I got away really well off the line. With a car ahead getting away slowly, we ended up in a position of being 3 wide into turn 1 with myself on the outside. With nowhere else to go, I had to run wide to avoid contact and rejoin further down the run toward Eau Rouge. A quick glance to my right confimed that we were still 3 wide! Therefore, again being the one on the outside, I had to slot in behind and head through Eau Rouge/Radillon on a slightly comprimised line with of course still cold tyres. Coming over the top was very chaotic, and a few of us made slight contact, and somehow we all managed to avoid a huge incident. Then, another to my left left the track on to the grass and looked as though they were going to spear left into my sidepod, however they gathered it up and we all battled down the Kemmel straight.
After all of this I finished lap 1 in P10, and amongst a long train of cars from 6th through to 14th.
This situation would not change for the entire race, and a couple of times I worked my way up to 7th which by then was the front of the train. The difficulty with Spa, is once you get to the front of the line of cars, if you are not within the draft of the car in front, you are giving a draft to every car behind you and it is almost impossilbe to keep them behind you down the Kemmel straight. A number of times I made a good move to take a position into the last chicane only to be slipsteamed past down Kemmel. On one occassion though myself and Gomalez had an wheel to wheel battle the whole way down the straight where I did my absolute best to hold him out from the corner at the end. He managed to get by still however, and in the end I finished the race there in P8.
After the race I was exhausted! At no point in time did the racing let up and I enjoyed it throughly. Racing in that train was an incredible experience, and to finish near the front of it in 8th was a good result when with the drafting effect it would have been very easy to have been shuffled right down to 14th with one error at any stage across the race.
I want to thank all of the Team at Fortec Motorsport for their incredible work to prepare a fantastic car all weekend. I especially want to thank Mick for his guidance, Daniel working closely with me as my Engineer and Dave and Andy for everything on the car. Time in the qualifying sessions, particularly Saturday, was tight, and my pit stops were first class to switch over to the second set of tyres.
Thank you to all of my investors for their incredible support of my racing which I cannot express how much I appreciate. 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.
Now after a very hectic schedule over the last month, I am really looking to a few weeks back home in Perth!