Thursday morning we had practice 1 and 2. Unfortunately due to time issues, the British GT practice sessions were basically straight after each other! A hour for each session with 15 minutes splitting them. It was the same for everyone so we just got on with it. It affected us a bit more because we could go too adventurous on the setup because we wouldn’t get time to change it if it wasn’t in the right direction. We haven’t had any test since Monza and Oulton Park, but me, Alex and the team knew we needed to be stiffer than we had been. P1 and P2 went well, we made some alignment change after P1 in which I started P2 to see if the change was beneficial. In P2 we ran with maximum fuel onboard to get a feel of what balance we had. We are trying to gain as much knowledge about the car as quickly as possible. After a debrief back at the RJN truck on what we are going to do for qualifying, we discussed various scenarios that could happen and solutions to overcome them. Always good to have answers unexpected events, it keeps my mind from wondering!
I would be starting race 1 so that means I had to do Q1. I’d have 15 minutes to set a lap. I remember sitting in the car waiting for the green light when an Olly Murs song came blasting on the speakers in the pit lane! Haha, I found myself nodding and tapping to the beat. I thought it would unsettle me, but I kind of liked it! Other race tracks should take note. The guys set me out as early as possible. First flyer is just used to get brakes and tyres up to temperature, and to find a suitable gap. Sometimes difficult as GT4 cars got out before me in the rush to get out the pitlane. First 2 laps were good, though I really had to get a hold of the car I did encounter traffic on my second flyer, so I basically crawled along the straight before the last fast chicane trying to make the biggest gap to the car in front as possible, and not get in the way of the car behind me on a hot lap. Fortunately it was a GT4 Ginetta, the GT-R has quite a large amount of power more than that, so I could really leave it to the last second before I ‘d accelerate away from it. Taking into account these are the tyres I’d be starting the race on, I really didn’t want to destroy them for the sake of a couple of tenths. Clear track ahead, I really gave it my all. The car was very tricky to drive at this point. Schumacher S bend was quite eye opening on that lap shall I say! I got pole position for race 1 with a half second gave to 2nd. But compared to the results of Q2, we are 2 seconds off the top time! We still have a lot of work to do on the car. We qualified P10 in Q2 with Alex doing a mega job. One of the main goals of the weekend was to outperform the other Nissan GT-R Nismo GT3, and we’d accomplished that so far. Also nice to have the first ever pole position for the Nissan GT-R Nismo GT3.
After a debrief, we’d not change the car for the race, as it could be a change for the worst. This would be my first ever first position start that was a rolling start. Alex was giving me advice on how to get the best start possible, as he’s had plenty! It rained before heading out to the grid. Not too much, but it can play on your mind sometimes. After a grid walk which took forever and a front row seat witnessing comedy gold as the German marshals were getting frustrated with each other over the timing of the 5,3,2,1 minute boards, we were away behind the safety car for 2 green flag laps. 3rd gear and about 4800RPM I gunned it as the red lights turned to red. I defended hard into T1 with Ginetta wanting to get passed on the inside. I did see a Porsche in the mirror trying to go deep on the outside and get the inside for T2. So I did brake slightly later and positioned the car in the middle of the road just after T1 to not give anyone any ideas of getting to the inside for T2. Fortunately the Ginetta took out the Porsche at T2!
After that I just pulled a big gap to the car behind, wanting to have a big one come pitstops when I had over to Alex. We all knew the Aston and Porsches are quick, so the bigger the cushion the better. Pitstop went well but a mistake caused us to have a drive through for having a pit stop 0.5 seconds too fast.. We secured 3rd in the race. After podium celebrations (which was great standing on!) we had talks with the team on what changes if any we’d do for tomorrow. Both me and Alex had the rears go off early on in the stint. We looked at the rears after the guys cleared all the rubber pick up off the tyres, we found there was some slight uneven wear. So a camber change was made for race 2.
Early start Saturday, Alex would start race two from P10, he picked up a place off the car in front which was great. We all knew the cars ahead of us are quicker than us on raw pace at the moment with drivers like Richard Westbrook and Matt Griffin at the wheel, so we tried to stick as close as possible to them for pit stops. Plus the fact we had a added 5 second penalty added to out pitstop as we finished 3rd (Championship rule.) We didn’t make the same mistake as race 1 this time! The Audi which was behind Alex at the start just passed me at the pit exit, did try to pass him but was struggling with rear grip and traction on every corner with 3rd gear and under. Did find myself catching other cars in front and passing them with no real problems. The Audi was pretty strong in all the slow stuff especially on the brakes into T1 and traction out of T2. He did catch some traffic very near the end through Schumacher S bend, he quickly defended the next left. I’d already decided I will run it round the outside and have the inside for the right. He got a better run out of the right and had the inside for the fast chicane, I positioned the car in the middle of the track so he couldn’t squeeze me off the track! I braked later and got the corner on the outside. At this point the car was very hard to drive quickly, the Audi was strong in the slow stuff and had great traction! I eventually held him off for 5th, Valuable points as we maybe doing the British GT championship now.
Some positives to be had over the weekend, and the whole team looking forward to the Blancapin Endurance Series race at Silverstone on the 2nd June.
Was also great to meet lots of the GTROC guys at the ring as well!
The 123 car with Lucas Ordonez and Kazunori Yamauchi did very well finishing 30th.
Big thanks to Sony Playstation Nissan and RJN Motorsport, who were great as always.
On to the next one!