Silverstone, the home of the British F1 Grand Prix was the host of round 5 of the 2013 Marangoni tyres Production BMW Championship. I have had a very mixed season up to this point but Silverstone is my favourite track and I was confident I could achieve some good positions. I had also done a track day at the circuit leading up to the race and felt like I had good speed on this day. We would be racing with the Project 8 Racing Saloons which meant the track would be very busy with 56 cars out there.
We were the first cars on the track on Sunday morning on a damp but drying track. This made judging the grip level difficult. Additionally, I had a new set of tyres for the session which are at less than optimal grip until they are a few laps old. I took the first few laps of the session at a steady pace to see where the wet patches were on the track. After getting a feel for the track I sped up on lap 2 but an oversteer moment at Becketts and a brake lock up at Vale knocked my confidence in the grip of the track. In the next few laps I began to regain my confidence but had traffic that held me up. I backed off to give myself some space for my flying lap. I did this and built up around the final two corners to get a good run onto the start straight but frustratingly the chequered flag was waving marking the end of the session. I found this very annoying as I had been a lot slower than I had gone on the track day I had done. However, I knew I had much more speed in me and that there are good opportunities to overtake at Silverstone, so was confident of improving in the race. I qualified in 25th position with a time of 2.57.621.
I waited in the assembly area before race 1 aware that I would now have full grip and could regain the speed which I had shown on my track day. I lined up on the grid and, due to the number of cars on the grid was unable to see the lights to start the race. I focused on the car furthest up the grid that I could see and, as soon as he moved I would go. But as I focused up ahead I let my engine revs get too high and this meant I suffered a lot of wheelspin off of the line. As a result of this I lost a place on the way to the first corner and I missed a gear on the hanger straight during lap one which cost me another position. I refocused on what I now needed to do and held good speed around stowe to quickly regain a position. There was a group in front of me who blocked each other into the new arena complex and I got a good run on the wellington straight to regain the positions I lost at the start. I began to close on the car ahead of me when one of the faster Project 8 cars got in front of me. He was in a different class to me and I was not racing him for position, but he was really fast on the straights but held me up around the corners. As a result of this I lost time to the people I was battling with for position. At the end of the lap again another of the Project 8 cars overtook me. I wasn’t battling for position with this one either and he was again really fast on the straights but held me up around the corners. I lost further time to the people I was battling for position which really frustrated me. Fortunately, the cars in front of me were held up by the Project 8 driver and I was back in a battle for race position. I used the next lap to see where I would be able to make an overtake. I pushed hard into the arena complex and pushed the driver wide which compromised his line and exit speed out of the next corner. I held a tight line around the right hander and cut back on the left to get alongside down the wellington straight and make the overtake at Brooklands. With a clear track in front of me I quickly gapped the driver behind me and caught the group in front. I used a good run around Stowe to pull alongside the car in front and make an overtake into Vale. But down the next straight the car I had just overtaken had loads more power than me and drove past me. That should not have happened. I lost another place through the arena complex and compromised my speed down the wellington straight losing another position. I quickly regained this place on the start finish straight however. I finished one of the most hectic races I think I have ever had in 20th position with a best lap time of 2.52.237, over five seconds faster than qualifying! I was happy I had regained my speed from the trackday and had my second points scoring finish of the year, but was mystified why my car felt so slow on the straights. I spoke with Robin from RAW motorsport about this and he told me it would need to be investigated after the meeting. I would have to do race 2 with the car the same. I listened to this and knew I would have to focus on carrying good speed round the corners to minimise the speed difference on the straights.
I lined up for race two and this time I was able to see the lights for the start. I focused on holding my revs correct for the start. I made a good initial getaway from the line but my car struggled for power and I lost three positions by the first corner. I quickly focused on regaining these places and made two places back on the opening lap. I continued to push to make further progress up the field and got alongside the driver in front of me a number of times but due to him covering the inside was unable to make the overtake. I was locked in this battle for the rest of the race searching for a gap to overtake. As the laps wore I was becoming increasingly more frustrated at not being able to make the overtake as I was clearly being held up. In my frustration I broke later than normal into the Arena complex to try and push him into a mistake. In doing this I lost the back end of my car and lost about half a second. Within half a lap I had made up the time that I had lost and down the hanger straight positioned my car to the inside slightly. I was not in a position to overtake but I knew I was braking later there and might push him into a mistake. My tactic worked, as the driver ran wide at Stowe and left me a gap to power through. I was delighted and had a little shout to myself in the car. With clear track in front of me I immediately set my quickest lap time of the weekend and pulled a 2.5 second gap to the car I had just overtaken. I finished the race in 19th position with a fastest lap time of the race of 2.50.795, over two seconds faster than race one and seven seconds quicker than qualifying! I was really pleased with how I raced in the second race and the battle I was involved in for most of the race was great fun.
I left round 5 of the 2013 season pleased with how I had driven over the weekend and having had fun in the races I was involved in. Additionally I had really enjoyed the Silverstone track and taking some of the corners at 100+ mph. But also thinking about what could have been if I had qualified better and if my car had been at full power. This problem will be investigated and solved before round six which takes place at Donington Park on the 28th/29th of September. Another one of my favourite tracks that suits my driving style so I am hopeful of achieving a top 15 finish. My onboard videos from Silverstone will be on Youtube shortly and photos will be on the site and facebook pages!