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Blog 11 – Brands Hatch GP29/10/12

The Grand Prix circuit at Brands Hatch would conclude another season for myself in the PCCGB. Whilst the championship was awarded at Silverstone to Michael Meadows, the runner-up spot was still to be contested for with Ben Barker, myself and Jonas Gelzinis less than twenty points apart.

Friday was wet from the outset and remained so all day. Over the two sessions I found a good balance in the car using both new and used wet tyres. The Grand Prix loop section of the circuit is extremely quick in a Porsche and had a surprisingly large amount of grip even in the treacherous conditions. Conversely the Indy circuit section was very slippery owing to it being used a lot, so this made for a tricky set-up configuration in order to be confortable on both parts of the track.

For Saturday afternoon’s qualifying session, the weather was completely dry making car set-up something of a gamble. The session began well, posting some quick times but it was interrupted on several occasions due to red flags. As I began my first fast lap on the second set of tyres another red flag duly ruined what would have been my fastest lap. Having to restart the session with my now scrubbed tyres, I had lost the edge on the tyre and could only manage fifth fastest. However my pace was strong and my second fastest lap was good enough for second position for Round 20, showing we did have the speed had we not been unfortunate due to circumstances.

With Gelzinis starting on pole postion and only 4 points behind in the championship, I had it all to do in Round 19 made more difficult by the return of Friday’s rain. I got a great start to jump Barker into Paddock – also crucial for the championship and hustled teammate Richard Plant, getting by him on lap three into third position. It then took me several laps to catch second placed Rory Butcher as Gelzinis had streaked away into a now unassailable lead. On lap 8, I passed Butcher into Paddock only for him to repass me immediately. Two corners later I went back underneath him into Surtees to seal the move. Gelzinis was now ten seconds up the road and I knew I couldn’t catch him. However I was comfortably in second position and knew it was all important points for the championship. The second half of the race went without incident to seal a good result.

Round 20 would decide the ever-closer final championship standings. Going into the race, Barker was 10 points ahead from myself with Gelzinis 1 point adrift. To add to the tension, Gelzinis would start from pole, myself second and Barker in third. I got another great start and jumped into the lead at Paddock. The car felt great and as I pulled clear, Gelzinis was struggling and holding up the chasing pack. By the time Barker got by Gelzinis for second, I had a comfortable four second lead. I then managed the gap to the flag to take a great victory to end the season.

Having watched Barker take second position behind me in the race, in doing so he had secured second place in the championship. Unfortunately there was nothing I could do but at least we had finished the season in style and secured third place ahead of Gelzinis. I was particularly pleased to win in such difficult conditions and with my sponsor Gardx in attendance, it was a fitting way to end the season with Team Parker.

Going forward I have no more plans to race this year. Having made the final 14 of the KX Akademy program, only time will tell as I now wait to have my future decided. There are several options I could take to further my career in 2013 and this will be discussed at great length over the coming weeks.

In the meantime I would like to thank Team Parker, my engineer Stuart and mechanic James for a fantastic season. In addition it could not be possible without my sponsors, with whom I hope to continue our long-lasting relationships and I am very grateful for the financial support I receive. Finally I would like to thank my family and friends, notably my Dad and my manager Tim Sugden for continuing to believe and support me.