So much for the glorious sunshine of early June. As we approached the Silverstone meeting in the BRSCC Mazda MX-5 Championship, things were not looking too promising. Thunderstorms and heavy rain were threatening. After a solid start to the season at Croft, I was looking for some top five finishes.
Testing and qualifying
The test day on the Friday proved to be a truly testing one. With four sessions planned through the day, the weather gradually got worse during the three morning sessions. Visibility was close to zero. I and several members of the AB Motorsport team decided it wasn’t worth the risk of wrecking the car on a drenched circuit and gave the afternoon session a miss.
Qualifying on the following day meant learning a completely different dry track. I struggled with a lot of understeer and made it through to 10th on the grid.
Race 1: I’m a top five (OK.. top six) finisher
My aim for the season is to qualify well, get a decent start and to keep in close contact with the leading pack. Top five finishes are what I’m looking for in 2021. All three races were on the Sunday, so it was going to be a busy day. Any incidents or mechanical failures were going to be bad news.
The weather had improved from the test day, although the track was still damp and there was persistent light rain. Off the grid I gained three places and moved up to seventh. A few laps later, I was up to sixth and hot on the tail of teammate, Ollie Allwood. But Ollie, with all his experience, is not the easiest man to pass. Nevertheless, a top six finish took me closer to my goal, finishing only 2.7 seconds behind the race winner, teammate, Fraser Fenwick. Five out of the top six places were filled by drivers from the AB Motorsport team.
Race 2: Up to third and then…
What a race and what a disappointment! One of the best races of my relatively short career. From 6th on the grid, I made it through to a podium position with just one lap to go. It was again a very damp and greasy track with quite a few drivers making their way into the gravel. On the penultimate lap, out came the yellow flag. As the leading cars approached the backmarkers, the car in front of me slowed considerably and disaster struck… a 360 degree spin. I recovered it well and made it to 7th at the chequered flag.
But the worse was yet to come. The clerk of the course didn’t look too kindly on a car spinning under a yellow flag. So, a post-race “summons to the headmaster” resulted. Unfortunately, my Vbox SD had malfunctioned and I was unable to present footage of the incident. The clerk didn’t accept my explanation that, in the weather conditions, I had done my best to avoid an incident. Nevertheless, the judgment was a race disqualification, 4 points on my license and a £75 fine for the SD card not working. My new teammate, Zak Oates, suffered a similar fate with a race disqualification for overtaking under a yellow flag.
Race 3: It’s a top four finish!
Clearly, I wasn’t happy with the disqualification in the second race and was determined to finish the race meeting in style. I retained my 7th position on the grid. As the race progressed through continuous drizzle, I made my way up up to 4th position on lap 5, and despite losing a place to Oliver Graham on lap 13, I managed to retake him and completed one of my best races so far, finishing in 4th.
Here’s the video of the Silverstone race.