Last weekend in Bishopscourt marked my 4th weekend out in a Formula Vee and it was definitely the most fun I’ve had so far. After doing a track walk early on Saturday I could tell I was really going to like the place, there was just something about it that was really appealing to me. It looked like a proper race track. We had a practice session to familiarise at 9am, however it was tricky to learn breaking points as half the track was drying/damp and the other half was completely wet. I came in and was about a second off the pace of Ray Moore who was fastest, but I knew I could find plenty of time with more experience on the track.
I was super confident for qualifying and after warming up for the first few laps and getting involved with some traffic I finally set off on a quick lap only to hit oil at turn 4. I knew my chances of setting any sort of fast time had been dashed as there was just too much oil to get proper traction. I could tell by the way I was catching other cars that I had pace, but I didn’t set a good time before the oil so I had to settle for 8th on the grid in Race 1. I compared my onboard laps when I came in and learned that I was on for a lap that could have potentially put me on the 2nd row if I hadn’t hit traffic before the oil. Anyway, could’ve been, should’ve been, whatever.
I got an alright start, but was passed by another car and followed a train of 6 for the first few laps. Eventually I got into 6th and tried to stick with the top 5 who were holding each other up. I was struggling out of the final corner and this meant they could pull a gap on me easily. I would have to spend the rest of the lap making up a huge amount of time. On lap 6 I was handed a gift when Ray Moore and Kevin O’ Hara tangled ahead of me. I reacted well and cut through all of the cars as they tried to avoid the mess, making it into 2nd place. I chased down Kevin Grogan for the rest of the lap, passing him into the final chicane and ended up leading an A race for the first time. The lead didn’t last long thanks to the tow Kevin and Dan Polley picked up on me on the front straight, but I quickly dispatched of Polley through the first 3 corners and was back into 2nd. We swapped places once more and then I was passed by Adam Macaulay just before we began the last lap. Crossing the line I was in 4th and got a tow on Adam to stick with him. I pulled out early and then performed a series of switch back moves to try force a mistake and get into 3rd. I saw in my mirrors that he was on the grass and I this gave me a massive relief as I knew a podium was mine. With half a lap to go I set about chasing down Polley and Grogan. I wasn’t actually sure if I could catch them in time but I tried anyway. A combination of me nailing the apexes and them slowing each other down racing meant I caught a tow on the back straight and went around the outside of Polley into the last chicane. He was all over my gearbox for the last few corners but I kept a defensive line held my position to cross the line 2nd, 7 tenths away from Grogan in 1st. It was a massive result for me. I wasn’t disappointed about missing out on a win as I it was way more than I expected after starting 8th.
Race 2 saw us use or second fastest laps from qualifying and I started 7th. In turn 2 I had a little moment and had to run onto the grass but managed to keep everything under control. At the time, I thought it was going to be the end of my race but luckily I got back onto the track and managed to keep a huge gaggle of cars behind me going into turn 3! I was very lucky not be passed. Now in 8th I set about chasing down the train of cars ahead. After a small battle with Colm Blackburn and Jimmy Furlong I found myself in 6th fighting with Dan Polley. We had a few close moments but I managed to come out on top and start reeling in Kevin Grogan. Just as I felt I was moving through the pack again a Red Flag came out to clear a car that had spun at Turn 3. After a long enough period we regridded and I had an ok start, but lost a place and regained though turn 1.
There was only 4 minutes left on the clock (3 laps), and I really wanted to finish higher than 6th after my 2nd yesterday. I kept up with the pack just enough to be there if something happened, but wasn’t expecting it would be me who would come a cropper this time. On the penultimate lap going into the final chicane I got a massive tow and caught right up with the pack. Polley went down the inside of O’Hara for 3rd and I went down the inside of Grogan for 5th, but just as I made this move, O’Hara had slowed more than I expected and I clipped his rear right wheel, sending both of us spinning. There was no obvious damage however the car would not restart and that was the end of my race. This was especially disappointing as just finishing would have meant I won the Finol Star of Tomorrow Championship after only 5 races. The incident also cost me 12 - 14 A championship points, and they would have been nice to have. As much as it was just a racing incident, a big lesson was learned and I will me more cautious with big points at stake in future.
Now we are at the halfway point of the season and I am delighted with how things have gone. The progress I have made each weekend has been more than I expected and now I can hopefully challenge for A race podiums and wins for the rest of the year. It is a huge benefit to have the support of Leastone Racing who bring my car to each race and prepare it for me. Without them I wouldn’t be racing, so a big thanks to Paul and Mark for all their hard work. I first made the decision to test the car in January and then had my first run in it in February. Even though it was only 3 months ago, I have learned a huge amount about racing on and off the track in that space of time. I am extremely happy that I started racing in Formula Vee and I would genuinely recommend it to anyone who wants to start racing. My background is a little different to most and probably gives me an advantage in the sense I have raced so much virtually on sims before getting in the real car, but it is still a series that you can jump into very quickly at reasonable cost and have great races no matter what you level. Right now nothing brings me more enjoyment than driving these cars so if you are on the fence I strongly suggest booking a test and trying one out for yourself.
We are back at Mondello in a months’ time for Round 6. This will be my first time on the International track and I cannot wait. I believe my car will be stronger than the last event and that I will too, so hopefully another strong result is on the cards.
You can watch the races live on Mondello.tv on Sunday June 7th (Timetable TBC)
Watch all of Des’ previous races on youtube.com/desfoleyracing
Follow on Twitter @Reallydes