Brands Hatch Finals November 12 2016
Two weeks after Portimao we headed for Brands Hatch for the Britcar Endurance and Britcar GT and Production Championship finals. Driving David Mason's fabulous Ferrari 458 GT3 round the Indy circuit was going to be interesting!!
Testing on Friday went well in the dry although cold weather. With it being so cold we were struggling to get temperature into the front tyres. With some adjustments the temperatures gradually rose over a stint of 10 or 15 laps. By the end of the day we felt we had a good car for the races. This time it was a packed programme but starting quite late each morning.
The drivers briefing at 1100 on Saturday was briskly followed by qualifying for the 50 minute GT and Production Championship finals. The weather had turned bad with massive spray and not much grip. Blasting round we qualified P2 on a 54 second lap in the wet!! I was really looking forward to trying the car in the dry, forecast for Sunday.
Next up was the night driving familiarisation session and David spent the session wisely getting used to the dark for his first night race appearance in the GT3. And within 20 minutes we were off to the grid for the first race start. Blasting off the front row we slotted into second place and let the laps unfold to the pit stop at 28 minutes. David jumped in and shot off into the dark to bring the car home for a great P2 after an enjoyable stint.
Sunday started wet but was drying slowly. The question was would it be dry enough for slicks? We had a plan and for the first part of qualifying it was working well. David completed his qualifying without incident and I jumped in to see where we could get to. Initially P1 was on the board but as it dried we struggled more and more with the front end and at the end of the session it was P3. A good enough place to start a 3 hour race!!
The race was scheduled for a 1525 start and we were informed we would have 2 pace laps before we were released to race. However the Audi managed to spin into the gravel on the first lap and the whole thing was delayed while it was rescued. Finally the lights went out and I shot into the lead. However the Ferrari takes a little more time to get temperature into its tyres compared to other cars. This pays back later in races as it also uses them less hard, but I slid wide at Paddock and down to P2! Working the tyres as hard as I dared I stayed in second and then started to close the gap to P1. After a few laps I was right on his tail but superior power was going to make this hard. And not long after he pitted so we were back in the lead!
And so the race progressed with low 46 second laps in the dark. A safety car period triggered a pit stop for fuel and then a second for more fuel and a change over to David. He got a few laps under safety car to settle down and then it was off for a mammoth 72 minute stint. Circulating consistently, David drove a great stint to hand over to me for the last 35 minutes. I stayed on his tyres as it was now so cold to go onto cold tyres would have compromised performance severely. We were also out of sequence compared to the rest so I had great fun chasing down cars and having some great tussles. And so the the finish, with an excellent P4 against a very strong field.
A cracking final race week end with David and I finishing P2 in Class/ P5 overall in Britcar Endurance and P1 in class and P3 overall in GT and Production Championships. A huge that you to David Mason for putting me in then car and the whole FF Corse team for all their hard work over the year.
Can't wait for 2017!!