I headed into this weekend with much anticipation for the season to begin. There was also the added excitement to see how my new clutch control mechanism would work, but with this also came some nerves and how I would adapt to using it. Unfortunately I was unable to do any testing before the weekend before the weekend due to the clutch being fitted just before. However there was a free practice session on Saturday afternoon that I took part in and the clutch worked perfectly. However my times during the session needed to be better if I wanted to make a good start to the season. So I headed into qualifying optimistic that the new clutch was working so well but with some pressure on myself to find better lap times.
Conditions for qualifying were overcast but the track was dry as I headed down the pitlane before being released onto the circuit. There was somewhat of a weird situation as I came to the end of the opening lap. On this lap of qualifying the marshals show the green flag, however when I came to the end of the lap the light boards were flashing red. I was unsure whether to continue racing or slow down but the next marshal point was waving red flags so I backed off. A driver had made a mistake at turn one coming out of the pitlane on cold tyres. The session restarted after the incident had been cleared and during the initial laps of the session I was behind a lot of traffic but I cleared this and got my head down and put in some good laps. This was then interrupted as I latched onto the back bumper of a driver who I usually have a similar pace to. I stayed behind him until he made a mistake at the final corner which then gave me a clear track again. I knew the end of the session was approaching so made the most of these clear laps. The session finished and my best time would put me in 19th position for the first race. As always at Brands Hatch the times were very close so I knew all would be to play for in the races.
I headed out on the green flag lap for race one nervous for the start as I had not done a race start using my new clutch mechanism. I had advice from a number of people of the tactic I should use though but I needed to put this into practice. The lights came on, I hit my target revs and as the lights went out I flew away from the line, passing both of the cars on the row in front of me. I was a little taken back by this as I had never made as good a start as this but it put me in a good mood for the rest of the race. Usually the snake at Brands Hatch takes a few laps to sort itself out but this time it happened relatively quickly. During the opening few laps of the race I was a little way behind the driver in front of me but I worked my way into the race and closed up at the start of lap three. I was unable to make the most of this though as the safety car was then deployed briefly. The race resumed and I lost a position just after but regained this just a few laps later. I remained in this position until a brief battle late on in the race and crossed the finish line in 19th position. I was very happy with how the start had gone and with my finishing position. It was a little bit of a shame to finish in my starting position but it was better than going backwards for sure. All was to play for in Race Two
The lights came on for the start of race two, I again hit my target revs and once again flew away from the line. This time it was not quite as good as race one. I was only able to get alongside the one of the drivers on the row in front of me but also lost a position into turn one. Not a disaster though by any means. I gained a further position midway around lap one but two drivers in front of me collided at the final turn and this then brought out the red flags, bringing the race to a stop. I lined back up on the start and this time around I once again made a good start however was baulked a little at turn one which cost me positions. In hindsight I should have been more aggressive here so I will take this into future races. The train of cars quickly sorted out into single file and I gained a position up the inside of the final corner. For a long time in the race I was then close to the driver in front o me but not quite close enough to pressure him into a mistake or overtake. However on lap nine the driver in front of overtook the driver in front of him and midway through lap ten I saw an opportunity on the inside o the cooper straight and gained the position. I made a mistake midway through the next lap which meant the driver I had just overtaken drew alongside me but I was just able to hold on to the position. I held this position until the end of the race and was in 16th position. This capped what had been a great weekend for me and I was very happy with this result. In addition to the great results which I achieved my new clutch control had worked perfectly and made a massive difference to my starts and the speed of my gear changes on the straights. This made me very optimistic for the rest of the season