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BRUNDLE: Spa Debrief

Alex Brundle files his latest Sportscar365 column…

Photo: Vision Sport Agency

Photo: Vision Sport Agency

‘Operating system not found’ was the message on my laptop when I opened it to write this report.

A message of joy to computer owners everywhere, and my official excuse! The famous blue screen of death has knocked me back a good few days but all sorted now so I can get on with it.

That said, after a 40 degrees centigrade triple stinting weekend in COTA for G-Drive racing in the WEC, I can sympathize.

To be honest I felt a bit like writing ‘operating system not found’ on a post it note and sticking it to my forehead to give people advance warning on the Thursday afternoon at Spa.

That said, the idea of winning the European Le Mans Series soon resurrected my sensibilities, when I noted the points system could make this a reality (perhaps).

With only 26 points available into the final race of the year we needed a gap of 27 or more to take to Estoril to wrap the championship up a round early.

It looked like we were a shoe-in being fastest in FP1 and FP2 respectively by almost 0.5 in both.

But when it came to qualifying the magic didn’t quite happen. What we lost in terms of performance in quali and the race is a quantifiable 0.8 tenths relatively, across the line-up. Why; is a Sherlock Holmes job, because the car felt exactly the same and we all drove as we drove in free practice.

When the No. 9 Graff entry destroyed the field by 20 or so seconds in a first stint with pro drivers in the first 10 cars, I knew that we were going to struggle to take home the win.

That added to an approach to the full course yellow entry/exit/speed which could only be described as ‘creative’ from the No. 9 (later penalized) saw us in P2 after a decent start, some 30 seconds back by the time I boxed for Gold driver ‘drive time’ in the first stint. Not ideal, but we were quicker than the rest!

As we do our (mandated) long stops earlier than most; poor Mike always ends up coming out of the box P ‘nowhere’ from a stop that was entered in P2.

The long stops are almost 1 minute slower than a fuel only so you really lose out, especially when it’s close!

It must have been really hard to keep your head together especially as the safety car carved the field in half and made the idea of a race win impossible during his early laps.

We had a championship on the line and everyone was under pressure.

He did very well dragging us back positions and lapping as quickly as the leaders through most of his stint.

Christian jumped in in P7 after Mike had dragged us from the ‘back, back’ to there in his stints.

Two great stints of managing potential rain and super cool management of a potential mechanical issue from the engineering team and the pit wall sealed a P2 finish which was enough to take the championship, there and then, at Spa.

Although the win wasn’t there, we were offered several chances to lose the championship winning result as a team and managed to duck all of those to bring home the bacon, so I am really proud of all the guys.

United prides themselves on the ‘team performance’ with the final result always paramount and never compromised for any other factor.

Every organization has something to teach you and I think it is this that I have learned the most from the Leeds based ‘top lads.’

We are going to have a lot less pressure on our shoulders but we’ll still go to story looking for a strong result!

And with another team performance I’m sure we’ll get it!

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