Note – This is the second race report from our friend, James Weston, on his adventures in the Michelin Clio Cup Series, Races 5&6
There were 5 sessions to run on Friday, of which we took part in 4. The car was set up and ready to go. We were looking to learn the track and get as close to the pace as possible before tomorrow’s qualifying. Session 1 set the base pace we had to work with for the weekend. We gained valuable data which was allowing us to see where the improvements needed to be made. Session 2 saw some hard driving trying to make up those times and pushing too hard a couple of times with a spin in Gracelands and just before the end of the session I pushed the braking point into Tarzan a little bit too far and ended up beached in the gravel finishing the session. During the lunch break the team at Scuderia Vittoria worked hard getting the car ready for the afternoon and Danny Buxton was working with me on my data. We went out for the final 2 sessions, and ended up closer to the top times than we have in testing yet with plenty more time to be found!
Target for qualifying was to get into the 1.33’s. We waited in the pits during the early stages of the qualifying as we were going out for a limited amount of laps, both to save tyres and just focus on a few fast laps. We went out and within 4 laps got a 1.33.5 which put us in P6 at the time, so we came in. The pace rose in the last couple of minutes in the session and this time was beaten leaving me in P7, however the best qualifying position to date!
Saturday Round 5 Race
After making a bit of a shocker of a start I dropped from 7th to 9th position. I got to work and started to make up for the poor start. Lap by lap my times were getting better and after a few overtakes we had climbed to 5th. I achieved my best lap on lap 9 with a 1.32.9 and finished in a strong 5th with a class 4 win!
We headed out early for this session to get some clear laps in. After pushing a bit too hard in the early stages I had a spin but soon got back to it. Within the next couple of laps we delivered a 1.33.0 before coming in and waiting for the session to finish. The time left us with a P7 start yet again.
Sunday Round 6 Race
After a much better start I was competing for 6th position during the 1st 3 corners. After being on the outside I lost some momentum and was forced to defend to maintain my position. I got back on track and hunted down 6th again. I made a late dive into the 1st hairpin and got up the inside but was unable to make the move stick after slight contact with my front right wheel and Ian Jordans door. This caused some issues with the front right wheel meaning I had to adapt my driving style to cater for the under steer I was experiencing. A couple of laps later into the hairpin I made the same move and made it stick. I was in 6th and looking to close down the group ahead. A few laps later there was an incident in the leading pack leaving a spinner and I snuck past getting into 5th. The last few laps I had started to lose a bit of pace so finished again in a solid 5th with another Class 4 win! Fastest lap of the race was a 1.32……. which was within 0.8 tenths of the fastest lap of the race, by far the closest I have been to the leading pack! I can’t wait for Brands Hatch (21/22nd September) as I look to continue with working my way up the grid and competing in amongst the leading group!