The last race in the BRSCC Mazda MX-5 Championship at Oulton Park on Saturday took place in two halves. I started in 7th on the grid, with my aim being to get on the podium; I knew I could do it. I lined up in my grid spot aiming to move forward with a good start. However, I also knew of the consequences of jumping the start; I received a 10 second time penalty in the previous race, albeit I thought it was a bit dubious!
With the 5 second board up, I readied myself. My start was good, gaining positive momentum to the cars in front. I held my position rounding the first corner and started heading down to Cascades corner, only for the red flag to be waved. Without even a lap completed the race was restarted. Unfortunately, it is was my team mate, Will Hayden who was caught up in a scrap with another car, due to no fault of his own. The marshals got us all lined up before the start line to form the grid again and recover some stricken cars. Thankfully, Will was able to continue. So, I lined up again, in 7th position. With the race already shortened to 15 minutes, rather than the usual 20, it was now only 12 minutes. For me to make ground, I knew I had to do it quickly.
This time my start was even better, I immediately darted to the inside to overtake Clive Chisnall. After I passed Clive, my sights were set on the car right in front, even before the first corner! I thought about going up the inside but decided against it as that may have caused a big accident. I followed the green car (722) through the first corner, and then at Cascades I made my move. I chucked it into 3rd to get a run on the straight coming into Island corner and Shell Oils Hairpin. I gained a run alongside #722 and got on the inside at Island corner. #722 tried to hold it round the outside, but ran out wide and onto the grass and spun.
With the second move done and a few positions gained off the start I knew I was in business but had to keep going. With a little bit of a gap I kept pushing forward. I gained onto the back of the black and orange car. I knew I was quicker than them, all I needed was a way past. After a lap and a half following closely, I made my move round the outside at Lodge Corner onto the front straight. With the run into the first corner, the driver now behind fell back, and I shifted my sights further forward. I knew I was doing well, although I didn’t stop pushing. I could see Nick Le Doyen and Oliver Robinson ahead battling for first place. This was more than an incentive to go even further. I started closing the gap slowly with time running out. I caught up to them both. But then I started to notice a fast Marcus Bailey appear in my rear mirror. With myself behind Nick Le Doyen, Marcus gained. A couple of laps later entering into Shell Oils, Marcus had the run on me, but I also had a run on Nick in front. I went to the outside to try and get past Nick, however in doing this, I lost a position to Marcus.
Going too wide down the short straight into Brittens chicane, I fell back into line and followed Marcus into the technical section. I followed Marcus through the quick left and into the snap right, with Nick close in front of Marcus. Coming out of the chicane, I saw Nick heading wide out of the corner, and then start to rotate. I moved to the inside to try look for a gap. Nick spun in front of Marcus, and I gained two positions. In all this battling Oliver Robinson had created a substantial gap out ahead. The race went into a lull for a bit with no action, just three cars, five seconds apart, Marcus 3rd, myself 2nd and Oliver 1st. Coming to the end of the race, I noticed my tyres were starting to go off, with a fair amount of understeer in vital corners. I tried adjusting my driving style to make up for it but it was too late. Marcus gained on me heading into Cascades and managed to get past me before Island bend. I knew my tyres were struggling at this point and was happy with my progress. I tried staying with Marcus but he was too quick.
But… the finishing line was not far off. A second position… a podium finish was achieved. My second in my debut season!