The penultimate round of the 2013 championship took place at the ex-F1 circuit Donington Park. My car was now back up to full power and I was really looking forward to the weekend on a track that I really enjoy. I am sitting just outside of the top 20 in the championship and was hoping for two good finishes to challenge for a top 20 position in the championship.
Donington Park is right next to east midlands airport so we had planes flying over all night which made sleeping difficult! On Sunday morning we were greeted with sunshine as we left the assembly area for qualifying. As usual I used the first few laps to get used to the car and track again but felt good in the car from the off. I then dropped back a bit from the cars In front of me to gain some space so that I wouldn’t be blocked by other competitors. I tried this but quickly caught up with the drivers I had slowed down from. Over the next lap I was able to overtake the slower cars and gain myself some space. My good feeling continued and when the chequered flag dropped at the end of the session I was pleased with my driving. I had qualified in 16th position having done a lap time of 2.02.495 which was over a second faster than I had done last year and one of my best ever qualifying results. I was really happy but knew I needed to do the same in the race.
In the time between qualifying and the race I tried to relax and really focus on getting a good start in the race which I haven’t been able to do for most of this season. When I lined up on the gird I was on the outside for the first corner but didn’t let this bother me. I focused on the lights and when they went out I managed to make a brilliant getaway, only loosing one position on my way to the first corner. I was really happy and but spent the first two laps with my eyes firmly on my mirrors defending my position. The driver behind me then had to deal with a driver close behind him which gave me a bit of breathing room and I looked for a place to overtake the driver in front of me. I quickly closed the small gap in front of me but was struggling with a lot of wheelspin as I came out of the Melbourne hairpin. On the next lap I got through the esses chicane really well and overtook into the Melbourne hairpin. There was then a gap to the next competitor and in an attempt to close this I lost the back of the car going into a corner and had to run through the gravel trap on the exit, losing two places. I remained in this position until the end of the race and finished in 17th position, which I was happy with but I was annoyed I made the mistake that I had.
In between race 1 and 2, in the lunch break I went round some of the track with Simon from my sponsors Allied Mobility. It was great to be able to do this and get some good photos on the track. I also spoke with another driver about my problems around the Melbourne hairpin and took onboard his tips how to get round there faster. The time for race 2 quickly came around and I focused on getting a good start again. As the lights went out in race 2 I am not sure why but I got a sluggish getaway but quickly focused on what I needed to do in the race. I was able to get a really good exit out of the last turn and gained a position at the start of lap two. A mistake at the end of lap three then lost me a position along the start straight. I remained in my position for the next few laps at which point I told myself aloud to relax and drive my race. This seemed to work as I made an overtake through a very small gap less than half a lap later and was very quickly behind the next driver. I again got through the esses very well and pressured the driver into the Melbourne hairpin, causing him to spin. There was then a gap to my next target and I didn’t think I would be able to catch him before the end of the race but two laps later I could see I had halved this gap. I then put in my fastest lap of the weekend to be within half a second at the start of the last lap. I got a really good exit out of the first corner and saw a gap open up through the craner curves. I knew it would be really brave to overtake through the craner curves but this was potentially my only opportunity and I went for it. I managed to do it but had to defend on my way out of the next corner. Over the rest of the lap I managed to build a bit of a gap and finished in 14th position which is my best ever in the championship.
I left Donington delighted with how I had driven. I had been able to gain my best ever championship position and set my fastest ever lap time at Donington by over a second. I hope to hold this momentum going into Castle Coombe which is this weekend and achieve my goal of finishing in the top 20 in the championship!