2018 represented the first opportunity for me to drive the Thruxton Circuit. It is the fastest in the UK and also my local track. With this in mind and off the back of my excellent performance at Oulton Park, I headed into the weekend with great excitement.
This excitement was almost short lived, as when testing on Friday I blew another head gasket. Fortunately as it was local I was able to get the required parts in time for the car to be fixed before qualifying. I was able to get some driving in before the engine issues and I loved the fast flowing nature of the track
It was a lovely sunny day as I took to the track for qualifying. After finding my way past a few drivers in the opening few laps of the session I found myself in some space and put the hammer down. I returned to the pits after qualifying confident that my final two laps were my best but when looking at the results my first lap was actually the fastest. This time was a 1.35.824 which would put me in 18th position out of the 27 entrants. I was happy with my speed but a little disappointed that I was quite so far down the field. It was all to play for in the races.
I made a fantastic start to the race which immediately gained me one position. The start of the lap at Thruxton is the slowest part of the circuit so the field bunched up again. This soon stretched out again as we took to the fast part of the circuit but at the first fast right hander I lost all electrics in the car. I had to coast around the corner which lost me a lot of positions. Fortunately I pressed my master switch and the car roared back into life. With a lot of work on my hands. After making my way past a big crash at the final chicane I looked to gain places. In the next two laps I was able to gain four positions before another crash at the final corner led to the race being red flagged. When the race restarted the start lights stayed on for a long time, I thought there might be an issue so momentarily took my eyes off them. Just as I did this they went out so I made a poor start. I once again had a lot of work to do but gained 3 positions in the first lap and a half which was good progress. I then had to close the gap to the car in front of me which I did over the next lap but then had a bit of an issue. I was faster than the driver in front through the slower section of the track but he had a bit of an advantage on me in the faster part. After one lap though I was able to keep the gap to a minimum and made the overtake on the start/finish straight. The last lap then began and I was unable to gain any more before taking the chequered flag in a hard fought 14th position. I was left ruing the electrical issue at the start of the race as my pace and overtakes in the race had been good. I knew it was all to play for in race 2
The lights went out at the start of race 2 and once again I made a brilliant getaway, overtaking the car alongside me on the grid and one in the row in front. As we made our way onto the back of the track I was able to gain another position with an aggressive move on the inside of the fast right hander where I lost my electrics in race 1. I kept my head down to catch the car in front but in the next few laps he edged away from me as I was also fighting of pressure from behind. Again I had the situation where I was faster through the slower part of the track but came under pressure through the faster. I held strong for three laps before a small mistake cost me the position. I knew I was near the front of the field so was determined to keep going. I had pressure from a driver behind again but was able to hold the gap steady. I then noticed him run wide on the exit of a fast corner which gave me breathing space. I held my position to the end of the race to cross the line in 9th position. Like I said I knew I was near the front of the field but didn’t find out my position until returning to parc ferme. As soon as I was told I had achieved my first top ten I was over the moon. I had been able to achieve my long term goal of getting inside the top ten. A lot of work from lots of people has gone into this, not least the rebuilding of the head on Saturday before the Thruxton Race and I am tremendously grateful to all of these people
I had been able to continue the momentum that I built at Oulton Park during the Thruxton weekend which made me excited for the final round of the season at Donington Park, a track where I have always done well