#12 Donington Race Weekend Review - Ladies and gentlemen start your engines!
It's finally here, the first race weekend of the season at Donington Park. And boy has it crept up on us. I get to track on the Thursday evening, ready for the early start Friday. I setup the camper, a superb VW California Ocean 2018 version with all the facilities you'd expect from VW's own brand. Takes about 10 mins. It really is a marvellous invention steeped in brand history and synonymous with British travel. This model lent to me by my sponsor VWDiscovery Wales who specialise in VW camper Hire in Wales. The camper means that I can stay close to the team in the paddock and have a base for my family on track in between qualifying and races. Brilliant.
Sleep is strange one at track. You're so excited about the upcoming weekend that to settle your mind and drop off is quite difficult. Interestingly it's only when i reach 4am that I can fall into a proper sleep. I wake at 6:30am surprisingly fresh and go straight for a shower. It must be the adrenaline. The shower block is like something from a 1950s school. It reminds me of my first year of senior school when we were introduced to the concept of showering after P.E. It was a moment I realised I was growing up fast. And school showers were grim.
Kettle on, cup of tea, bowl of Weetabix. Sign on at 8am.
Friday practice was interesting. This was the first experience of driving Number30 around the track with the freedom to overtake any which way. On track day testing overtaking is limited to the left-hand side and only on the straights. I could really see what this baby can do. Times were good. This is promising. We had drama late on when the bonnet was not fastened properly and at 90mph coming around Coppice onto the back straight it flew open. What a bang that made as it smashed through the windscreen. I had arrived! The team managed to source a new windscreen and worked late into the evening to get that fixed.
It’s true when they say this is a team sport. The preparation and commitment from the team to get me into a car I can race is phenomenal. We share the highs and lows together. Next up, race day.
Kettle on, cup of tea, bowl of Weetabix. After a quick walk of the track, we only made it to Craner Curves before turning back, it was the driver's briefing at 8am. This was it. Shits about to get real. I'm playing with the big boys now and I better step up to the plate. Qualifying, and we're on track first. We line up in the pits ready for the out lap. I'm wearing fresh unscrubbed slicks. This is my first experience of driving with slicks. I had no idea what I was in for. And at Schwantz curve I span. Yes, still the parade lap. I span while doing the tyre warm up weave. I even left the track! This made me very nervous.
Qualified P4. Promoted to 3rd as one of the cars suffered a penalty and was demoted 8 places.
We line up in the assembly area, a part of the track not being used just behind the paddock. I am crapping myself. Adrenaline is pumping through my veins. I am high as a kite. My two mechanics Jon and Josh on hand to help with last minute preparation. We do our checks. All good. I'm sat in the driver seat, strapped down. This is totally weird. It's everything I've dreamt of, but now it's happening I'm not sure. I'm not sure this is for me. Have I made a mistake? Am I ready? Perhaps I should've started in a slower class? Am I trying to be someone I'm not? What if I crash? What if I come last? Oh god.... help.
"30 seconds ladies and gents", comes the call in my earpiece. "Start your engines please".
No backing out now.
I won the race. What on earth...?