Round Two: Brands Hatch Qualifying19 May 2012
We’re at Brands Hatch in Kent as the support act for the mighty Deutsche Tourenwagen Masters (DTM) race series, here on their annual visit to race in the UK. It’s a prestigious gig (even by our standards) and the ranks of the VW Cup have been swelled with new drivers attracted by the glamour of the event.
A large crowd is expected for Sunday’s main event, and even the opening day of the meeting (Friday, a day set aside for practice) is well attended. So it’s a shame that in the qualifying session I manage only 24th out of 28 runners. However, the “field spread” is tight and the car is running well; I retain hopes of progress in the race itself.
20th May 2012 – Round Two: First Race Day
One of the downsides of being part of a major meeting such as the DTM is that the sheer size of the event affects every aspect of the weekend. At Oulton back in April, we had our qualifying session and both races telescoped into one day. Undoubtedly it was a hectic affair, but on balance preferable to the sprawling timetable that over this weekend sees us dividing our alloted one hour of track time across three days.
During the long periods of inactivity between races, it is easy to go a little bit “off the boil”.from a driving point of view – fortunately there are techniques to help avoid this and when the red lights finally extinguish to begin Race One, I’m ready and blast off the line and pick up a couple of spots on the first lap.
From there on, the race goes well and twenty two laps later the flag flies and I cross the stripe in 17th.
21st May 2012 – Round Two: Second Race Day
And so late on Sunday afternoon, to the finale. Starting the second race of the weekend from 17th on the grid, I gain a spot on lap one while managing to avoid the worst of the bumping and boring. Even so half way round the first tour, a stone fired from the track into the air by the energy of a racing slick shatters the GTI’s side window, showering me with fragments of toughened glass.
Despite the refreshingly al fresco nature of proceedings, on lap two I nip past another rival.
I am now working my way into the race proper when without warning the DSG lets go of fourth gear, cutting drive to the front wheels and causing the engine to rev like a crazy thing.
As the flare of revs dies away, the gearbox “finds” a gear and once again the car resumes forward motion. And then it loses the gear ... a pattern endlessly repeated as I slip quickly to the back of the field.
I’m still circulating, but way off the pace as I cajole the reluctant race car to the finish line. At the end # 24 is in last place on the road and we gain just two points.
It’s been a long weekend of effort for the KPM Team and for me; at the end of it all, this doesn’t feel like much of a reward.