A quick visit to DPR on Friday morning for an oil change and a weight check confirmed that I’ve shifted enough weight now that I’m running at minimum. That’s a great milestone for me and an overall drop of car/driver weight of 21kg. And, by golly, I needed that weight saved. The sharp end of Group 1 is a very competitive affair.
I arrived at the circuit late afternoon and, much to the bemusement of my dad, set up my tent. There were a hardy group of drivers who’d made the decision to camp out – at differing levels of comfort – and it was a great evening spent chatting and joking over some pretty ropey BBQs and enjoying the shelter of James’ fantastic shelter (Pfaff to Action Ratio of 189 – but Reward Offset Constant of 1200). Very glad I stuck it out through the rain.
The morning was gray, overcast – foreboding even – and everywhere was damp. However, the forecasts were now all agreeing that we wouldn’t see rain through the day, so things were going to dry out pretty quickly. However, as Group 1 were first out on track, it was extremely damp tarmac that we used to familiarise ourselves with the corners.
My first run was a poor affair. It didn’t put me in the best of moods and really, with the conditions, was an irrelevance in the day. We’d already been told that we would only get 2 timed runs, so that left just one practice run in the (nearly) dry. I made the decision to just assume everywhere was dry and go for it. That paid off and I got down to 105.59. Game on. Only Henry Heaton ahead by a few 10ths.
Into the first timed runs – my first attempt saw my time drop by 1.3s to 104.27. This was a great banker lap to have on the board but again, Henry was showing us all the way forward and cracked into the 103’s with a 103.85. That was very impressive. He had been on top form all day and was showing us a flavour of the pace we have to look forward to when the racing proper begins. James Houston wasn’t far behind, just missing out on the 104’s. And Nick Horton, who had set good times in the morning, span – so he was also one to watch out for in the final run.
As I lined up for the final run, I had the words of David Da Costa running through my head “Chris, you’ll find those 4 10th by being neater – not more aggressive”. And that proved to be the case. It was a vary neat and tidy couple of laps and it did result in a time of 103.86. I knew I’d bettered my time from the previous runs from the feeling on-board. I also knew I’m left a little bit out on the track around Agostini and Oggies. It turns out that Henry wasn’t going to be denied today and he’d moved the benchmark onto 103.60.
Considering the lack of relevant running through the day, I was extremely pleased with the result and Henry absolutely deserved the win. He was a step ahead on every round. James did move his time down, but couldn’t crack into the 103’s. Nick had to be slightly conservative after the first run spin.
So, it was a second place on the day for me. Another great result. I left the track wanting another run to find more time but on reflection, I know that James and Nick would have been right in there as well, and with Henry on such good form and likely to nail even more of a lap together, I think it may have been a bad idea!
We’ve got a 4 week gap to the final sprint of the season. It’s going to be hard work waiting for that to come around.