My final race of 2015 was originally to be a 3-hour into-the-night race – the traditional end-of-season event for Britcar, held in previous seasons at Brands Hatch. But plans change and we were switched back to two 90-minute races, the same format as our previous round at Silverstone, to be held on the Donington Indy circuit – my favourite track in the UK and one I’m very familiar with. Testing wasn’t available on the Friday but I was happy to go straight into qualifying on a rather damp Saturday morning, with the car wearing a set of fairly new Dunlop wet tyres.
Fareed took the first stint and put in five laps in challenging conditions before pitting, with a quick check of pressures before I went out to put in a qualifying time that sandwiched us between one of the Chevrolet CR8s and a Holden V8 what was guesting in the 45-minute Trophy race.
As Fareed wanted to do the final stint in the second race to get a feel for driving in the dark, he opted to start Race 1 with me to start Race 2.
The driver change was a bit rushed and for some reason my headset didn’t work so could not hear any instructions from the team, although they could hear me. I couldn’t get comfortable either and this did affect my concentration to some extent. I span at McLeans on my third lap following the Audi R8 GT3 through a combination of slightly too much speed on the wrong line, and then again on lap 14 when I strayed too far onto the wet exit curb – this time just hitting the rear bumper on the Armco and making a hole in it. Sorry Fareed!
The second race was a far more enjoyable experience. Helped by the strong winds, the track had dried almost completely by now and everyone headed out on slicks. I took the first stint and was quickly looking to match my existing lap record set last year in my own Boxster.
A shortage of time meant both of the Newbridge cars were too late to make the grid, so Martyn – in the TeamBRIT VW Golf – any myself started from the pit lane. Martyn started around a minute after me and with us posting similar times, I stood a good chance of staying ahead of my Class 4 rival, at least until the driver change. But on lap 10, the #88 BMW M3 V8 landed in the gravel at the Goddards chicane resulting in two laps of the safety car. The field then bunched up and Martyn was able to get past me in traffic where he stayed despite my best efforts to chase him down, setting a new personal best lap time in the process.
I pitted after 26 laps for Fareed to bring the car home in the fading light. We finished a respectable 9th from 14 starters. No pots for us this time but given we shared a class with BMW M3s, that wasn’t really expected.
Fareed and I finish the season 7th overall in Trophy, 2nd in class, and 5th overall in the Dunlop Sports & Touring Car Championship.
It has been a great honour this season to share both a garage and a grid with a couple of combat veterans, part of an organisation called TeamBRIT. Martyn Compton and Mark Allen were both badly injured during their tour of duty in Afghanistan and each have used the opportunity, regardless of their injuries, to compete against teams of able-bodied drivers on a totally level playing field – something that no other sport can offer. They aim to make racing history and take a team of injured troops to the world famous Le Mans 24hr endurance race. I wish them all the very best.
And my thanks for a fourth season now to Richard and the lads (Marcus and Viktor) at Newbridge Motorsport who again have presented us with a car that we basically couldn’t fault.