After winning the Team Hard scholarship, the first round of the Volkswagen Racing Cup soon came around. We had a pre-race test on the Friday before the race, which was held on the Monday. The testing did not go as planned as there were several problems with car. Due to these issues we only managed 4 laps testing. After very little testing, I didn’t feel as confident as I would have liked. However, I was more than up for the challenges which lay ahead. Upon arriving at the track Monday morning – hoping that the previous problems with the car had been solved – it was straight into qualifying.
Qualifying: It was an extremely cold morning for qualifying, so getting heat into the tyres was going to be difficult. As we were waiting in the holding area to go out on the track, my Mechanic Darelle, told me to take it easy and progressively build up the speed . On the track my lap times began to fall as I became increasingly more comfortable. By lap 4 I felt as though I had enough heat in the tyres to start pushing. But, to my dismay, I pushed just a little too hard, spun and just clipped a curb. This caused the tracking to be out of alignment, hindering my progress in the car. As a result, my hopes for a top ten finish in qualifying were not looking too sunny, however, despite these issues I ended up a respectable 17th out of 29 drivers. Work to do therefore, but promising none the less.
Race 1: As I was getting strapped in my car for the first race, Tony Gilham, my team boss, came to speak to me. His wise words gave me the confidence to go out and do what the team know I am capable of. We had two warm up laps before the race started, so it was essential that I had my tyres up to the optimal temperature. I made a great start, and was soon up to 13th place. I had 9 laps remaining therefore, to pick off as many drivers as possible. After some good overtaking I finished in 9th place. I couldn’t believe I had finished in the top ten in my first race. It was an amazing feeling and my confidence shot through the roof! Looking good for race 2…
Race 2: After a great race 1, everyone’s expectations were much higher than before. At the lights I had a good getaway from the grid and was soon up to 7th place, and catching the leading group. Then the safety car came out and a bunching of the field ensued. After 4 laps behind the safety car it returned to the pits and racing resumed. I knew we only had around 2 laps left, so I had to make short work of getting past the guys in front if I wanted to move up the field. By the time the chequered flag fell, I was in 5th place. What a great way to end the weekend!
Overall: Lap by lap I was getting better and better, and with this my confidence grew with every corner. I have had only 29 laps in the VW car and to have finished in the top 5 is a very satisfying achievement. I am confident with a few test days I will soon be fighting for podiums and hopefully victories! I would just like to say a massive thank you to all of Team Hard for everything they have done for me over the weekend, without them I would not be racing this year.