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ABRIL: Brands Hatch Debrief

Vincent Abril files his latest Sportscar365 column…

Photo: Gary Parravani/Bentley

Photo: Gary Parravani/Bentley

Brands Hatch was the third of seven race weekends in a row for me and, as I arrived in London ready to take on the third round of the Blancpain GT Series, I was still buzzing from my first experience of racing in the U.S.

I really enjoyed Pirelli World Challenge SprintX at Virginia International Raceway with Bentley Team Absolute. Despite there being a lot of familiar faces on the grid, there were some new GT3 machines to race against and it was interesting to see their strengths and weaknesses as I eyed-up the season’s competition.

An issue on Friday and Saturday left us down on power and prevented a better starting place for race two but, once resolved, our pace was mega.

The team is very professional and Adderly is a fantastic team-mate so I think, once we get to a track they all know and that is better suited to our car, we are in for some good results.

Anyway, back to Brands Hatch… I remember from last year that the fans here are awesome and definitely up there with the best of the Blancpain GT Series season.

Racing for a well-loved British brand here in the UK is a real honor and it is great fun to be a part of the team.

Now, the one thing that made this weekend’s racing incredible is the same thing that stopped our weekend from being so great! SRO has done an amazing job to get such a close grid in qualifying but, with the top 20 cars separated by just 0.504 seconds in Q2, we didn’t quite make it into Q3.

It’s a shame because Kaney [Steven Kane] was on for a mega time but he hit traffic and lost 0.3 seconds. At Brands Hatch, and with such a close grid, that was enough to put us outside of the top half of the grid.

If you’ve raced at Brands Hatch, you’ll know that it’s pretty hard to overtake and we didn’t want to take any crazy risks.

But, starting the qualifying race from nineteenth puts you in danger of contact, which is exactly what happened to Kaney, through no fault of his own.

The result was some flailing body work that caused a puncture and dropped us back down the grid. We managed to salvage P20, which was our starting position for the main race.

In the main race our pace was promising but we had started much further back than we should and got involved in battles that we shouldn’t have, which limited our progression through the field.

Still, we managed to finish the main race in 13th, seven places above our starting position.

So, unlike the opening Sprint Cup race at Misano where we took a podium, Brands Hatch wasn’t our weekend but we will put it behind us and move forward.

I’m in fourth place in the driver rankings so I just need to keep my head in the game and make sure I continue to finish every race with my team-mates.

This weekend is the fourth of my seven back-to-back race weekends and I’m back with Max [Soulet] and Andy [Soucek] for the second round of the Blancpain GT Endurance Cup at Silverstone.

We’re gelling as a driver lineup so I’m looking forward to getting back in the car with them.

Switching cars has been good so far but it takes a little while to settle and understand each other.

At Silverstone, the car should be strong and, if everything goes to plan, we should make some really good steps forward from our sixth place finish at Monza.

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