As I mentioned in my last post, I have always found Brands Hatch Indy to be a challenging circuit. However, in the Audi R8, I’ve found my speed increasing and I currently hold the lap record, which I managed to move another 3 tenths further forward.
Despite having a clear pace advantage, I severely struggled in qualifying finding space in the traffic to get a fast lap in – I was blocked on several laps which meant I was unable to challenge Jonathan Holman for the overall pole position.
One issue we have seen with the WCP version of Brands Hatch is the non-working light gantry for the starts. Relying purely on a set of beeps, we had several false starts before the race got underway. I momentarily fell back to 4th in the sprint race behind my team mate, before getting the inside for Druids hairpin and settling down behind Mark Winwood and Jonathan Holman. On lap 3, Winwood ran wide in clearways promoting myself to 2nd. The chase was on behind Jonathan and despite closing up I couldn’t find a decent position to really attack, so I decided to keep the pressure on. Coming out of Graham Hill on the 11th lap, John ran wide and span, gifting myself 1st place with a 5 second lead. From then on, it was a case of keeping the tyre temperatures under control and making sure I didn’t have any issues with the backmarkers, crossing the line in front of Mark, Jonathan and Julian. With Marks penalty promoting Jonathan to second the next race was going to be crucial.
Winning the sprint race gives the privilege of starting last in the endurance race. Knowing that Jonathan, Mark and Julian would all be starting ahead – I wanted to ensure that I didn’t lose too much time off the lights.
I managed to avoid the druids carnage and come out of the hairpin in 5th place, in front of all my rivals, – it was at this point disaster struck, with one of the other drivers managing to drive onto the grass, spin and collect me through Graham Hill forcing myself into a excursion across the grass and into a spin. After getting back on track, and seeing that I was about 20 seconds behind the leaders, I knew I couldn’t afford to have the others scoring vastly more points at the end.
This sparked perhaps the best race of my sim racing career, chasing down the field and eventually being within 2 seconds of the lead in third place on lap 27 out of 28, then my tyres eventually overheated enough to cause me to run wide in Paddock Hill. I would not have been able to take the victory, but to be able to come back in the race and finish behind Mark taking his well-deserved maiden victory and Julian.
Looking back at the lap times, I managed to run a series of 44 and 45 second laps through the field and also through the back markers.
Our next round is Dijon-Prenois, which I have never raced on before. I go into the race with a 9 point lead in the championship ahead of Jonathan but a bad race will close the championship up.
Sam Newland, my team mate, also improved hugely from Round 1 and finished with two 5th places – contributing towards Bandito Racing taking the Team Championship lead by 1 point.
You may notice another lap record set in the Scirocco R. Looking at the data, I can see at least half a second in that lap time – this was a quick practice for the Simply Race Touring Car Championship, which is run over 6 Sunday evenings starting in November. Mark Winwood and I have entered a ‘VBOX Motorsport’ team to see how we get on.