A Tough First Race Weekend at Silverstone
This weekend saw my first race out in the Porsche Club Championship of the season at Silverstone historic GP as part of the MG Car Club festival. After missing the opening round at Brands Indy and the following round at Oulton Park, I was hoping for a good couple of races. I'd joined a new team since the mechanical failure at the Brands test day that had caused the ABS failure and consequent crash and we'd made some great progress with the car during testing in the lead up to Silverstone. Ernie Cheetham, the chief mechanic at Lodge Sports Racing has been running his son Steve Cheetham racing various Porsches for the last twenty years and has been involved in motorsport since the 70s. What this man doesn't know about Porsche racing cars is not worth knowing! We had a couple of test days in the lead up to the race where Ernie has made the car feel the best it had felt since I'd started racing. I could throw it into Village at pretty much any speed and it would just stick! I was really looking forward to racing with my new team mate Steve who was leading the championship going into the weekend.
I had a problematic qualifying, collecting so much pick up I came in thinking I had a problem with the car. By the time I'd been given the all clear and went back out the flag came down and I wasn't really able to put a flying lap together and qualified dead last. My team mate, on the other hand had an outstanding session and put it on pole by nearly a second. Steve's time gave me confidence that I could make it up in the race knowing that we both had a good set up underneath us. I spent the time in between qualifying and race one in my garage with my mechanics getting some good photos of my fantastic new Stanley livery wrap and getting prepared for my first race. I had a lot of support in my garage and gained confidence chatting to Ollie and Sam from Milltek who had given up their afternoon to come and support me and listen to the glorious sounds of the newly fitted Milltek sports exhaust on the Cayman!
Race one was possibly the worst race I've ever had. We had such achieved such a competitive set up in qualifying but the blistering heat of the 50 degree tarmac in the midday sun completely overheated the tyres by the second lap of the race. The car was so undriveable that I came in after two laps thinking I had a puncture. I went back out to try and at least get a finish but after losing control of the rear for the 4th time leaving me stalled facing the wrong way on the exit of Brooklands, I came in and retired from the race. The temperature of the rear left tyre was way beyond what it needed to be and we decided that the competitive set up we'd worked so hard to achieve during testing was just too stiff for the uncharacteristically high temperatures of the race weekend. Steve was struggling with his set up too and couldn't hold on to the lead by the end of the race and had to settle for second place. We both decided to soften the cars right off and reduce the tyre pressures for race two.
The cars felt a lot better for the second race but they still weren't the easiest cars to handle. Mine felt nervous and although much more compliant, the Cayman still wanted to swap ends on a few of the corners. Steve was much happier with his Boxster too but he still didn't feel it was giving him the same amounts of grip that he'd experienced in his mega qualifying lap. I finished the race, which had become my only target for the day and once again Steve had to settle for the second step on the podium.
A disappointing end to our first weekend racing together as Lodge Sports Racing but we win as a team and we lose as a team. There is so much passion for motorsport in our team that everyone left the circuit feeling pretty down. But this is only going to fuel our desire to come back stronger for our next round at Croft in August. The Lodge Sports Racing team are really starting to make some plans for properly putting a mark on the championship for the second half of the season. So watch out for the pink and purple Cayman and the yellow and blue Boxster because together we are a team that believes that Anything Is Possible.
A big thank you goes out to all of my sponsors, Stanley, Talon Outdoor, IM Asset Management, Omologato, Milltek, Witham Group, Walero, Team Rehab UK, Physio Function, Cobra Seats, Schroth Indi Seats, Opentrack and Dynolight Rollers. Thank you to Sam and Ollie from Milltek, Susie and Drew from The Chummy Club and Sue from the SIA for coming to support me on the day. Thanks also to Mike Pollock for the great photos.