Thursday, 15 September 2016

Friday, 2 September 2016

Best ever at Donington Park

After a few months off, we got the car ready for two rounds towards the end of the race season.  

The beauty of the Boxster S is that under normal circumstances it doesn't need much to prep it between races.  Cleaning the wheels and brakes, a quick check on fluid levels, pump up the tyres, charge the battery and put some more fuel in.   

We spent more time giving it a thorough wash, polish and hoovering out as the inside had accumulated dust and dirt over a while.  

Setting tyre pressures in testing
In lieu of testing there was a track day the Friday before the triple header round at Donington Park. This enabled me to re-acquaint myself with both the car and circuit.  A slight hiccup with a leaking CV joint early on, meant a trip to a local Euro Car Parts for a boot  kit.  With that sorted I got three good sessions on an emptying track later in the afternoon improving my speed and the balance of the car all the time.

On Saturday morning we needed a set of the new Toyo R888R tyres and with qualifying fast approaching it was touch and go if there was time.  Tony (south shore tyres) did a sterling job to get everyone what they needed just in the nick of time. 
Err - last call for Qualifying!

 A good job we waited as minutes before it poured with rain and the new tyres with all 6mm of tread really helped.  I managed a very smooth lap towards the end of the 20 min session. The rain had stopped and the surface water was reducing.  This was good enough for 4th place - a fantastic effort just behind 3 championship contending drivers.   
Struggling for traction in the wet qualifying (photo Chris Valentine)

Race 1 Saturday 3 PM
I got away quickly as the lights went out but was blocked on the outside allowing two cars to come past on the first lap.  A slightly bizarre accident at the final chicane brought out the safety car as I jumped into a fantastic 3rd place.  After a couple of laps we went green again and I held a couple of seconds advantage over the cars behind. I eventually got caught with 3/4 of the race completed, after some resolute defending.  Frustratingly a mistake slipped me back to 5th place. Determined - I responded with two really good laps at the end of the race pressuring a mistake from the car in front, spinning at the first corner Redgate, to give me a best ever equalling 4th place finish.  
Holding out for a podium place

Race 2 Sunday 2 PM
I experimented with a much stiffer setup on Sunday and initially it felt OK.  The track was difficult it due to an oil spill on the warm-up lap which meant we had to go around for a second lap.  As the race went on my times became more erratic and I suffered over-steer in the corners which became difficult to manage.  The car was quite hard work to drive and I slipped back from the front 4.  I managed to put in some solid last laps to fend off the cars behind to maintain a great 5th place finish.
Under pressure into Redgate corner

Race 3 Sunday 7PM
With DNF's from the previous race I started on the outside of row 2 (4th) again in the reversed grid race.  This was the last on an over-running weekend schedule and the light was fading fast.  I stalled as I stopped on the grid marks, restarting immediately.  The first corner was a melee with bumping and door banging as fast drivers starting at the back attempted to force their way to the front.  I've had my share of damage so kept out of it finding myself back in 8th position as a result.  

We again had a safety car, for 2 924's in the gravel this time.  It's lights were off and we powered out of the last corner only to find the safety car still deployed, lights back on!  One more lap - then we were green again.  The lead car was backing everyone up, driving very defensively, just a fraction of a second faster than I was circulating.  The top 8 were covered by a few seconds for most of the race.  Cars ahead and behind me were quicker on the long back straight, and up the hill out of the old hairpin.  This kept my mirrors full and left me lots to do on the brakes.  A couple of cars had mechanical issues and I eventually lined up a smart pass on 6th place on the penultimate lap after posting my fastest times of the weekend to round out another great 5th place finish. 

Whilst the rest of the grid head to Mallory Park in September, our next event will be the season finale at Silverstone (International circuit layout) in mid October.