Winning the Finol Star of Tomorrow was some achievement, and the feeling was amazing that the year of driving paid off. However, Brands Hatch...well that was absolutely amazing from start to finish.
I allowed myself a silly moment of excitement when team Leastone arrived in Brands Hatch on Thursday evening and we were directed to a designated garage for ME!!
Testing on Friday didn't really happen for me, heavy rain meant that the track was super hard to get to grips with. In addition, I had an engine issue which had me on the side lines for the majority of the day. So qualifying on Saturday was going to be my learning platform for this weekend.
A dry day dawned and although cold, at least there was no rain so qualifying was something I was really excited about. Lined up on pit lane, we got ahead of the posse and got some all-important clear track and managed to pump in a few good times early on. I managed to secure P6 on a grid of 24 and 3rd in class, which I was over the moon about, given the limited running the day before.
The car was unreal and I felt every turn improve with each lap. The pictures of this track by no means describe the challenges it puts out there for a driver. The dips and climbs are like no other track I have ever driven on before. It was amazing, scary and thrilling all at the same time. The g-force of the Leastone 1000 was something I was not used to, as I was experiencing slicks and wings for the first time.
Race 1 was the first race after the lunch break and I was itching to get going. So from P6 on the grid, I got a great start, and once the race settled down, I used this race to really get to grips with the layout of the track and try find the car limits. I was able to maintain 6th place, but unfortunately slipped to 4th in class and was disappointed not to make the podium. Even so, it was an exhilarating to drive the 1000 around such a famous track and I felt that I held my own among some of the more experienced drivers.
Gaining confidence entering Race 2, I got a savage start off the line and slipped through the few rows ahead of me, gaining three places before the first corner. I had to focus on my mirrors from then on out and had to defend hard to maintain track position. After lap 3, the safety car came out which bunched the field up again.
When the safety car pulled off, I was able to jump to P2 on the run up to Druids. Almost immediately, the safety car was again deployed. Following the deployment, there was another heavy accident and the race was subsequently red-flagged. Luckily all of those involved were OK, even if there were some broken race cars and despite the shortened race, I was delighted with the result and my first podium on UK soil!
I had an absolutely brilliant time in Brands Hatch. Paul and Mark did wonders with the car, they were flat out all weekend tweaking and making me feel more and more comfortable. To bring home the P2 trophy was amazing.
Thanks so much to Finol Oils for the prize, to the Leastone Racing Team for everything they have done to get me to this point, and to my sponsors for the year Selco Hygiene Supplies.
What an amazing prize!