The weekend started with a test day that didn’t necessarily go to plan. In the first three sessions of the day, I suffered four brake failures coming up to Rocket, at over 100mph. Now I like to think that I don’t often get scared when driving, but on those four occasions, it was a different story. On the last failure I ended pretty much on the straight between Rocket and Peel. I drove the car back before the 3rd session finished so the team could have some time to figure out what was going wrong. The pedal was going to the floor with no pressure whatsoever. Thankfully, the guys at AB Motorsport fixed the issue before the last session and I enjoyed a full wet session. In a strange way I looked forward to the wet session, as I saw it as an opportunity to experiment with different lines and techniques.
As it turned out, the wet session was really useful as qualifying was in similar wet conditions. With the knowledge that I’d grasped from the test session the day before, I knew that the ‘dry line’ wasn’t actually that bad to use in the wet. Some corners were still dry line, however others were still better using the wet line. I got some laps down that I was happy with and then started trying to push to see if I could improve from 6th fastest. I started pushing, but found that my driving was getting untidy, resulting in losing time instead of gaining it. The session ended with me remaining in 6th position, meaning I would start 12th in the first A race. I was happy with this result as it provided room for improvement but also boded well for the 3 races ahead.
Race 1A – a solid performance
As the first race was soon after qualifying, the track was still wet, although it had dried in some areas. I lined up on the grid, ready to take the start, after having starts that were frankly terrible in recent weekends.
I aimed to make amends and just get away from the line well and hold my position. The lights went out and I started well with minimal wheel spin on the damp Anglesey tarmac. I was on the outside for Turn 1, so I did my best to hold it round the outside, as it meant I’d be on the inside for The Banking. Coming out of The Banking, I was alongside Marcus Bailey. I’d ended up on the outside on the run up to Church, which is always treacherous in wet conditions as I found out last year (and would almost find out again). I gave Marcus the inside as otherwise I would’ve lost too much time around the outside, especially on the first lap.
On the lead up to Rocket, a tight left hairpin almost on a crest, I was on the outside once again. In the braking zone though I gained on Marcus and took the outside line. I got the run through Rocket out and gained the position. The next phase of the race was spent catching up to Jason Greatrex and the one and only Ali Bray of AB Motorsport. Coming up to Church Corner a few laps later, I took what felt like the same line I’d been taking the whole race, unfortunately I hit a wet patch, sending the car sideways, I caught the slide but lost time onto the straight. Marcus Bailey and Scott Mansell would come past me on the run up to Rocket. Eventually I caught up to Ali Bray as his car was having issues. In this time though John Langridge had been knocked off the circuit by Lewis Cannon. John came up behind me, I defended but the sheer experience that John has meant that he passed me. I did however use John to catch up again to Ali, as time had been lost defending from John. Two thirds the way through the race, Ali let me through coming up to Rocket. The last phase was spent rather on my own, I had Scott Mansell (of Driver61) ahead but he was too far away. I finished the race in 10th, from 12th, so I was more than happy with how race 1 went.
Race 2A – racing against my AB team
A Saturday evening track walk is always the best preparation for the Sunday race!
For Race 2A, I would start 10th. The conditions on Sunday morning were very different to the day before. With no rain in sight, I made my way to the assembly area feeling confident that I could push the car even more now, as it would actually be the first dry session with fully functioning brakes.
Off the line, I got more wheel spin than I would’ve liked. This meant coming up to turn 1, I was again on the outside. I held my own around the outside, boxed out by a mass of MX-5s. I ended up dipping my two outside wheels into the dirt past the outside curb on the exit. This splattered mud and dirt all over the right front of Ollie Allwood’s car (sorry Ollie!). I did however make amends by helping in the cleaning effort later on. In the braking zone for The Banking, I gained on Ali Bray and Jack Brewer who had beaten me off the line. Coming out we were almost three abreast wide heading up to Church Corner. I decided to pull back as the tight line into the corner would’ve been far from optimal. Coming up to Rocket I had Seb Fisher alongside me, with Ali just ahead. Braking into the tight left hander I noticed Ollie Allwood arriving at some speed to my outside. I’d outbraked Seb Fisher into the corner, however this meant I was in a three car wide AB Motorsport sandwich with Ali on my inside and Allwood on my outside. Allwood made it round the outside, giving him the inside for Rocket out. On the way out of the corner, I also had Ali alongside me. In the moment though I missed a gear, granting the position to Ali and a quick to react Adam Craig. I did however manage to pass Adam round the outside at the Corkscrew, gaining the position back.
I followed Ali around for the next couple of laps, trying to create a gap between me and the cars behind me. Ali let me through into Rocket again, giving me the chance to make the ground I’d lost at the start. I then set my sights catching to Marcus Bailey, I caught up to Marcus quickly trying a move into Rocket. However, Marcus defended well and couldn’t get through. In my attempts to get past Marcus in the next couple of laps, Seb Fisher had caught up to the back of me. I held the gap for a while, holding the outside round The Hairpin and Rocket. I noticed during this period thought that Seb had a much more compliant car coming out of the corners, whereas my car had understeer, affecting my speed out of the corner. Seb managed to pass me down into the final corner.
I would then follow Seb for as long as I could, staying in the tow. We would both eventually catch up to Marcus Bailey, Seb managed to pass Marcus into Rocket. As the race was coming to a close, I tried to throw everything at the circuit to pass Marcus as well, however it wasn’t to be. I’d started the race in 10th and ended up 13th, I wasn’t pleased with the result, but I wasn’t too frustrated with it either, as it was still a top 15 finish, meaning decent points had been gained.
Race 3A – Another top 15 finish
Off the line in the last race of the weekend at Anglesey and I would finally be on the inside for the first corner. Heading into The Banking, I battled with Adam Craig to hold the outside line, this continued through Church, the fast right hander before the back straight. At the time, I really don’t think this was the best idea, and I still don’t now, however I made it round the outside and past Adam Craig. I now had a clean run up to Rocket. On the lead up to Rocket, the front pack squabbled for position resulting in Ben Short sat sideways in the middle of the track. I quickly made my way round the outside avoiding any potential lost time.
For the next lap I had Ben Short behind me, a regular top five driver. I tried to hold my position but into the final corner Ben threw it down the inside giving me nowhere to go but the outside. Ben quickly made his way past Scott Mansell, who I would then attempt to pass. It took a couple laps to make up the gap, but I continued to put the pressure on from behind. A lap later at The Hairpin, Scott missed a gear coming out of the corner. This allowed me to fly past. Immediately on the next lap, at the first corner, I was side by side with Steve Foden, who had dropped back at the start. Unfortunately for me Steve defended well which forced me wide giving Scott the opportunity to take inside on the way out of the corner, forcing me onto the grass. I maintained my speed back onto the track, determined not to drop this position. I had a good run through Church Corner, better than Scott. I managed to make my way past Scott before the tight left, Rocket.
For the next few laps, I would follow Steve Foden trying to build a gap to Marcus Bailey and Scott behind. Marcus however managed to close the gap to me, and made a move into Rocket. I forced Marcus to the far outside but he still made it through. The last part of the race was spent in a bubble between Marcus and Scott behind. The race ended, with me finishing in 12th. I was happy with another top 15 finish, especially after Cadwell where poor results affected my championship position.
After Anglesey though, my championship position improved, giving me confidence into the next weekend at Snetterton.