I’m still recovering from the shock! A second place and a podium in my second race at Cadwell Park in the BRSCC Mazda MX-5 Championship.
For the second race, I was starting in 3rd place. I knew this would be my first chance at a podium and I had to take it. Before the race I was really calm, with the boys from AB Motorsport around, ready to help with anything. Olly and Tony Allwood came down to give me support and advice on how to handle the pressure. With a red flag ending the Porsche race before mine, another 20 minutes was put onto the parc ferme waiting time, which only added to the pressure. But I was fine, I knew I had the performance in me and the car. I just had to extract it. After all, all I had to do was hold my position…
Heading out onto the green flag lap, I had been warned of oil being put down, coming out of Gooseneck down to Mansfield, one of the sections of track where you really don’t want oil to be. However, whilst on the green flag lap, I saw that oil wasn’t there – it was further down on the straight after Mansfield and before the Mountain, so it became no issue at all. Coming up to the start line, I lit the rears up and warmed the tyres, pulled into my grid spot, and waited for the grid to form up.
My main focus at this point was a good start, as my start in the first race was poor, and I lost positions because of it. The 1 minute, 30 seconds and 5 seconds boards came up. I brought the revs up, and the clutch right up to the biting point, off the lights went and my start was electric, I leapfrogged Martin Tolley right off the start taking me into 2nd position already. Paul Tucker behind me, seemed to get an even better start, as he was bump drafting me down to the first corner. I was perfectly happy with this, as it was pushing me further and further away from Tolley and closer to 1st place, Lewis Cannon.
The first corner was surprisingly calm for me as I had broken free from Tolley. I then focused on Lewis ahead. Through Charlies 1 and 2 I was quicker on the first lap. Onto the Park straight I sat in the slipstream of Cannon, trying to get every little advantage I could get. I almost drew alongside Cannon coming into Park Corner, I thought, I could just go for the move, but after making a “risk assessment” in my head, I decided against it, and that maybe I could try a few laps later. Part of my decision was made because of what had happened in the previous race with Paul Tucker. I decided there was still 15 minutes of the race left, so there was no need taking the risk this early on. Later on in the race, Cannon and I had built a substantial gap back to 3rd place which was a raging battle between Tolley and Tucker. I was still quicker than Cannon through Charlies 1 & 2, but the opportunity never really gave itself up. I was happy with my performance though, as I knew it would be my first podium, and I’d gained a position.
For the rest of the race, I concentrated on a consistent drive to the finish. I came round for the chequered flag, and was ecstatic that I’d secured my first podium. Coming into parc ferme after the race, the smile on Ali Bray’s face caught my eye. That’s when you know you’ve done something right. I got out of the car , had a little chat with Lewis Cannon about the race, and then was quickly rushed to the podium. I didn’t really know what to expect at this point! After we’d received our trophies, photos were taken and then came my first media interview. With that done I went back the AB paddock feeling really happy about my performance. Job done!