After leading many races, and also having to deal with many DNF’s, I am super happy to say that I finally landed on the podium in the GT Open with Rinaldi Racing.
Even though I was in Suzuka the week before I didn’t seem to suffer any issues with jetlag and found myself unusually excited for the weekend in Silverstone. Maybe it was the nature of the track or the fact that we would be racing on Michelin tires… not sure.
Having said that we did expect much faster lap times with the blue labeled rubber and it was to everyone’s surprise that the whole field was slower than the Pirelli’s used at the Blancpain Endurance event in May.
Going into Saturday’s race my co-driver, Rinat Salikov (Bronze), had a tough qualifying, along with all the other Ferrari’s, however I knew our race pace would be better. Our car wasn’t fundamentally slow, it was just that all the Ferrari badged cars struggled to ‘switch on’ the tire in the first 3 laps of qualifying.
Rinat made a great start with no issues and eventually handed me the car in 14th position overall. When I got in I didn’t expect much, maybe a top 10, but within 3 laps I realised we had some serious pace and fought my way
into the top 10 and only just missed out on the Pro-Am win, eventually finishing 2nd in class.
I caught the Pro-Am leader on the final lap of the race but couldn’t quite make my move stick. I have looked at the onboard video a few times now and realise that I maybe had a second option, but when you’re on the last lap of a race you have to go with your first opportunity, the time for being patient has run out by then. Unfortunately my first move wasn’t enough, but that is how it goes sometimes.
On Sunday it was my chance to qualify the car and start the race. My first run on new tires wasn’t quick so we made an adjustment to the tire pressures for my second attempt and thankfully the lap time came to me. In the end I missed out on a top 5 starting position by less than 0.150s, which put me in 10th position, so I knew I had my work cut out for me. The only positive to come out of qualifying was that I was the fastest Ferrari.
My start was decent and once the tires were up to temperature I could really start to attack. I had some great battles
, fighting my way up to 6th place, before pitting 2 laps early with a suspected slow puncture. When Rinat jumped in we were just out of podium range but his pace was brilliant and it started to look like we could snatch another podium finish. However it wasn’t to be, after some pretty rough contact with a BMW put us out of the fight.
Blancpain Sprint Call Up
Much to my surprise I will be competing at the Nurburgring next weekend when I join Rinat for the final round of the Blancpain Sprint Series! We will be in the Pro-Am category where we will absolutely aim for a class podium.