Back in 2012 I made the decision to sign up to compete in the 2013 Caterham Academy Championship. In doing so, I achieved a life-long ambition to compete in motorsport. I knew I’d love it. I did love it. And I still do. But it’s time to put the helmet on the shelf for a while, so Cadwell will be my last race meeting.
I’ve competed at every level of the Caterham Motorsport Championship ladder and am proud of my achievements. I’ve won races; I’ve lost races; I’ve won a Championship; I’ve lost Championships. And I’ve done it all with my friends and family.
Time to set off for the Silverstone GP circuit. My first time racing around the full circuit and an experience I am looking forward to. There are some new drivers joining the grid for this one, some old paddock friends and it will be great to catch up.
Knockhill never fails to blow you away. Both figuratively and literally. For those that haven’t been, the track is set in the hills North of Dunfirmin, with spectacular views down over the Firth of Forth towards Edinburgh and wind strong enough to sweep you off your feet.
The bridges were all posively glowing in the sunshine and the specator views you get around this small, but well formed circuit are epic. If you’ve never been, I highly encourage you to do so.
After a relatively steady start at Donington, I was treated to some pre-event testing this time around. Lack of seat time has certainly been one of my enemies and it was nice to start to get more comfortable in the driving seat and begin the process of understanding the dynamics a bit more.
Whilst it only takes 52 seconds to get around a lap of the track, absolutely none of the corners are on the flat. Every part of the track is angled, cambered or otherwise off kilter. But that makes it a rollercoaster to drive and makes accuracy essential.
Each testing session, I got closer to the pace, even if the slicks I was running on had aged past their prime and I felt reasonably happy headed into Qualification.
I hooked up a lap good enough for 5th place and therefore bagged myself a place in the Super Pole session. Already going considerably better than Donington, I managed to take 3rd place in Super Pole to really cement the gains made.
After a reasonable start, things got caotic in the first corner (which I may or may not have been at least partially involved in…) I took some time to settle in and a couple of mistakes later, I had slid to 6th position. Still in the mix but I was getting my line wrong out onto the back ‘straight’ which cost me time and overtaking opportunities into the hairpin.
However, by just clinging on in there, I managed to benefit where others were involved in incidents and the end result was a, somewhat fortunate, 4th place. It was close to being 3rd place but for a sticky gear change.
Still very much in the mix, I once again settled a little into a following pattern, initially sitting around 6th place. Things were looking OK with a gap behind, but Gordon and James were loving life, going hammer and tong and that meant I was caught and passed by Jake Swan Dixon. The remainder of the race was largely spent trying to get in front of Jake. But I only managed it once, and only for a lap before he got back through. 7th was the end result.
Fatigue had definitely set in for me after 2 full days testing and all the racing. There was plenty of potential for chaos again in the race, with everyone close in the lead pack. I was firmly attached to the battle but always at the rear and, this time, there were no incidents from my competitors to take advantage of. I did finally correct my lines out onto the back straight, which was satisfying but a touch late to make better use of. By the time the dust settled, 6th was the end result.
So, how do I feel about the weekend? Well, it’s a case of chip, chip, chipping away at things. The margins are tight and, whilst I’m not yet competing at the level I want to, I am moving in the right direction and certainly a whole lot more competitive than Donington.
Whilst ignoring drop scores flatters things a fair amount, with so many issues for my competitors, I currently sit 4th in the Championship.
Next up is Silverstone – probably the most diametrically opposed track to Knockhill it is possible to imagine! It will be my first time racing around the full GP track and I’m looking forward to the next set of challenges that will bring.