7th May 2017
My second race meeting, last month, had not gone well and I was left pretty down about it, so to find out the following week that the engine builders had found quite a big issue with my engine actually had me looking forward again to the next race meeting. Knockhill’s June race meeting was also to be a round of the Britcover National Formula Ford Championship, so the decision was made to enter that along with the Scottish Championship races so that I could gain much needed seat time in the car.
I was delighted to find a big difference in the performance of the car when testing began on the Friday. Buoyed by this I was really pleased to be turning in lap times much closer to the front runners. The new found performance continued on into Saturday morning testing, and so I was really looking forward to the first qualifying session for the Scottish races. The 2017 Scottish Championship is proving to be the most competitive in more years than people can remember, so having set my quickest ever time I was disappointed to still find myself back in 10th place on the grid but just 7/10ths off the pole time.
I was really up for the National qualifying session too, which was next, but it also marked the beginning of engine problems that we didn’t get to the bottom of for the rest of the day. Despite changing various parts for each race that day I ended up having to pit the car in both the National and Scottish races that day due to the engine problems. The guys at Graham Brunton Racing, along with Gavin Ray of Ray Racecars, worked tirelessly on into the evening to change the wiring loom and other bits on the car and come Sunday morning they were pretty confident all was well with my car.
Because of the engine issues in National qualifying and the first race on Saturday it meant I lined up 26th for the start of race 2. A great start and some hard racing saw me up to 12th position before being tagged into a spin at the hairpin and out of the race with damage. Again some hard racing on track in the next Scottish race saw me finish 6th which set me up nicely for Race 3 later that day. In the meantime the final National race of the weekend had me lining up on the back row in 26th place because of the non finish previously. From there I drove a hard charging race to finish up in 13th place which I was delighted with.
I couldn’t wait for the last race of the day in the Scottish Championship. I lined up 6th and initially fell back at the start but battled back through to be running 4th and on to the back of my team mate, Seb Melrose, in 3rd. A few little mistakes and I fell back slightly again. I was running in a strong 5th and looking to take back 4th when my other team mate, Ross Martin, was involved in a huge accident on the fastest part of the track. It happened in front of me and was shocking to see so I think I drove the remainder of that lap, which turned out to be the last lap, on autopilot. So, I finished the race in 3rd place and got my first podium and trophy. It wasn’t the way I would have wanted to get my first podium but I was just glad to see Ross walk away from his huge crash unharmed.
Both Ross and Seb have helped me massively this year so far. More pleasing than the podium finish was the lap times I was now putting in, which were now just a 1/10th off the race winners, and I had also been able to show I had genuine front running pace and the racecraft to match. The atmosphere in the Graham Brunton Racing Team right now is fantastic and I was delighted this weekend that I could repay just some of the faith they have shown in me this year. Ironically since the weekend the engine has been found to be still down on power a bit and has gone back to the engine builders so on a positive note I now feel even more confident for the next race meeting in July.