Going into my first full season of car racing we set an objective to finish inside the Top 10.
Running with 1 mechanic and my father we knew it would be difficult against the established teams and on a very modest budget.
From the first round at Snetterton I realised that if we could get the car set up I would be able to compete. I qualified in the top 10 and was in 5th when I was taken at by a late lunge, eventually recovering to 9th and scoring 6th in race 2.
At Silverstone, in the damp conditions I set the lap record for the Fiesta on the International Circuit but in the dry it was apparent that my handling was massively inferior to the drivers in the teams but I was pleased to come away with solid results in both races.
We then went to Rockingham. In the final practice session I was only 1 tenth off the quickest and had high hopes for qualifying with new tyres still to come. Still learning about set-up the new tryes did not deliver the benefits we had hoped for and I qualified a disappointing 9th. In race 1 i made a great start and enjoyed a very busy race eventually finishing in 4th place.
In race 2 I made another good start was up into 2nd as we exited turn 2. Thereafter I was defending against the team drivers but finished in 5th place.
Rounds 7 & 8 were back at Snetterton. Again practice went well but bolting on the new rubber resulted in massive understeer and I qualified 7th. Before the race we had some rain and it made the track slippery. This was to my advantage as I worked my way through the field and was withing striking distance of 1st place as we entered the last lap and crossed the line astern giving me my first podium.
Race 2 went even better and I led the race from Lap 4 and crossed the line in front with only 7 seconds of the race left. Needing to complete just 1 lap my power steering failed which let second place catch me and we had contact forcing me off the track and eventually bringning the car home in 7th and extremely disappointed.
a hot sunny July took us to the fast Castle Coombe Circuit. Again in the top 6 quickest on old rubber we were hoping for good things in qualifying. Sadly I only got a few laps before a ball joint broke and put me into the barriers at 70mph. I’d already set a time that was good enough for 13th on the grid. Race 1 went well and I was up to 5th place by lap 5 with great pace. We then had a safety car and on the restart my gearbox mounting failed and tore the drive shaft out resulting in a DNF.
Starting last and with a spare gearbox that had no limited slip differential in it I had a great race coming from last to 5th and thoroughly enjoyed myself.
For Silverstone I ran with Specialised Motorsport. Immediately I was on the pace and with the fastest all weekend. I qualified 3rd and felt good for the race. I didn’t make the best starts but was taken out on lap 1 by a move that was never on which was massively frustrating. I limped that car back to the pits and the team effected repairs to get me out and finish 10th. Race 2 was in the wet after a heavy downpour. I came from 10th to 3rd including a move around the outside at Copse only to skid on a kerb and drop to 4th at the finish.
The calendar then took us to the Anglesey Coastal Circuit in North Wales. II qualified 4th with 2 flying lap as my car had an ECU fault. The team were unable to fix the fault which resulted in power loss and I had to drive round off the pace and in both races finished last.
This mean I was needed to overhaul a 4 point deficit at the final round at Brands Hatch to secure a top 3 championship finish. As my car stll had the ECU issue I hired a car. Ultimately something was not right with the set-up of power and I only qualified 16th. I got to 8th on a very frenetic first lap but was then put in the barriers on the exit of Druids which destroyed the car. The team manged to get e out for race 2 put I had to pit immediately as there was something wrong with the suspension.
It was an incredibly disappointing end to my season. I truly believed I deserved 3rd in the Championship and when I look back I think I had a lot of bad luck. But also I can take the positives that I was competitive, that on a modest budget we ran the teams close and that gives me lots of confidence going into 2017.
I can’t wait for it all to start!