I usually take lost baggage as a bad omen for a race weekend and it almost turned out to be true when we weren’t able to put together a real qualifying lap on Saturday due to an electronics issue with our car.
We were taking part in the final round of the Blancpain GT Sprint Series at the famous Nurburgring GP track with the aim of collecting as many points as possible for my team mate, Rinat Salikhov.
Practice went well but our qualifying was a disaster. Battery issues meant I couldn’t change gear and to add salt to the wounds we got put to the back of the grid because an engineer was working on the car during the qualifying session. He was trying to fix the problem but in qualifying this is not allowed in the Blancpain GT Series. Fair play.
Race 1 was not great either when Rinat, who was starting the race for us, crashed with the leader of the the Pro-Am class and took us out the race.
Come Sunday afternoon and I was desperate to help my team recover from a shitty weekend. There was some dramatic news that all the teams woke up to when we found out that one of the championship challenging Lamborghini’s was disqualified from the entire event
when their driver tried to destroy video footage of a seatbelt/driver change infraction. This kept everyone busy while we waited for the 4pm race start.
Starting last is never easy but as always, I’d practiced this on the simulator, and had a decent idea of which sequence of lines I wanted to take in the first sector. Provided I could get to the very inside of turn one, I knew we had the opportunity to make up some places. The leader of the Pro-Am class was starting 4th, me 20th, so there was a lot of work to do.
Like magic a small gap opened up going into Turn One at the start and I went for it immediately, thereby kicking off the sequence: Inside T1, outside T2, outside T3, inside T4. By the time we crossed the start/finish for lap two I had made up 9 positions and had the Pro-Am leaders in my sight!
We managed to jump them at the pit stop (Rinat is unbelievable in the driver change sequence) and grabbed the lead exiting the pits, which we held until the end of the race, finishing first in class and 10th overall.
This marks my first win as a Pro-Am driver in the Blancpain Sprint Series, I just wish we entered the Championship a bit sooner because I think we would have had a decent shot of winning it.
Nonetheless it is something to think about for next year.
Thanks again to everyone who supported us over the weekend and to Rinaldi Racing for a brilliant car that was good enough for a top 10 finish.
Now I turn my focus to Monza which is this weekend, where we will be taking part in the second last round of the GT Open Championship.