A few weekends ago, just after our official pre-season test in Le Castellet, I was having dinner with Johnny Mowlem, a good friend.
Something he said really stuck in my mind and reflected on me this weekend. “At the beginning of every season we’re so optimistic. As racing drivers it’s in our nature to be internal optimists.”
This weekend started out this way for all of us, but quickly took a sharp turn, metaphorically and literally.
Coming to a new team is always busy and hectic, but exciting. There is a lot of work in terms of making a seat to fit all the drivers, fitting radios, and all the details that has to be sorted.
Also meeting my new teammates Leo Roussel, and Jono Coleman, our team principal Julien Schell and the engineers and crew. All this in a condensed two-day practice, qualifying and race format left us with a very limited time to get aquatinted.
With long hours each day in the pits, we got situated very well before race day.
After racing and taking PC wins and podiums in the American Le Mans Series and TUDOR
United SportsCar Championship, and back to back LMP2 championships in Asian Le Mans
Series, coming across the Atlantic to compete in European Le Mans Series felt like the natural step.
In terms of prototype racing, ELMS definitely has the largest, and in my opinion, the most
competitive grid in the world. This is the place that I want to challenge myself this year to further my own development as a driver and the progression of my career.
Being new to this championship, I’ve never driven any of the tracks on the calendar.
Silverstone is a proper old school circuit. Fast, blind and flowing, this place tests the technical understanding of drivers. All though practice my focus was on learning the circuit as fast as I could, but with only two hours of practice split between three drivers, that left me with 16 laps in total to get up to speed.
Going into qualifying, my teammate Leo did a great job to put us 7th on the grid out of the 11 P2 competitors. Being one of four cars on Michelin tires we were the second quickest (of the Michelins).
We knew that qualifying for our Morgan chassis by Onroak Automotive and Michelin tires that would be challenging. However we were very confident about our tire wear management with our configuration and we would have something for our competitors for the race.
Jono took the start for us. As soon as the lights went out things got dicey. Going into the second corner a car ahead spun and checked up everyone. Jono got hit from behind sending him off the track.
What followed was a series of incidents that we’ve been analyzing and digesting for a while, the car hooked and shot back across the track before hitting another car.
The impact was quick big and destroyed the front right corner of our car, as well as a small piece in the throttle mechanism, which took nearly half the race to fix.
In the end, the team did a great job to fix the car and I went out at the end of the race to shake down the car for our next round.
There’s a million things that could have gone differently for us,but at the end of the day we learned a lot about our car and tire package this weekend and bonded together as a team through a tough weekend.
I believe if we can get through the hard times together, we can move ahead to achieve great things.
We now know what we got and we know we can be competitive. We’ll put this behind us and move onto the next one.