Perfection is not something measured simply in wins. While statistically on paper the “perfect” start to the season has come to an end, this weekend has brought Lamborghini, the GRT Grasser Racing team, and me closer to achieving the best possible results.
Though track time was somewhat limited during the compact two-day Blancpain Endurance Series event, time spent during the week and weekend preparing for the race was quite busy.
My race week started seven days prior to actual race day with a flight across the pond to London Heathrow. Silverstone marked the first track in Europe I would race on with no previous testing. Hence, the week before was dedicated to maximum preparation.
The preparation program commenced on Tuesday with a visit to Pro Performance for another fitness evaluation and training session. Silverstone is quite a demanding track so pre race preparation is important. I made sure to fully optimize my hydration plan.
Wednesday was devoted to track knowledge so I could hit the ground running in Free Practice. I spent three hours in the simulator at Base Performance being coached by former Formula 1 driver and current Formula E driver Karun Chandok.
Simulation is something I have taken advantage of this year with my foray into European racing. With every track we go to being my first race there, I have to take extra steps to insure I will be on pace. After logging many kilometers around Silverstone on the simulator, the focus now turned to the actual race weekend a few days away.
A common reaction I get when people ask what career I have chosen to pursue is that, “you must get to see the world.” However, as many race drivers know, the most we usually get to see in foreign countries is the airport, hotel, and racetrack.
This race weekend was rare because I had time to become a tourist for a day on the streets of London. Having Thursday off allowed me to clear my mind and focus on the demanding weekend ahead.
One thing I couldn’t shake, however, was how my friend and fellow Spyder Athlete James Hinchcliffe was doing after his accident during Indy 500 practice.
I was in Indy with him just a day before heading to England, and we had both wished each other luck for our respective races.
I decided to wear the #GetWellSoonHinch sticker on my helmet and dedicate our performance to him this weekend. Every racing driver knows the risks of our sport and everyone at Lamborghini wishes him a fast recovery.
After finally arriving at the track Friday and completing mandatory team and driver meetings, Saturday marked the start of our on track competition.
After Monza, we received a BoP adjustment requiring a smaller restrictor, so the first practice session was for optimizing the set up under the new BoP.
Having two Lamborghini Huracán GT3 cars is very helpful for working on car set up. The 19 and 63 cars each tried different variations of set ups.
From our first lap, we realized we had gone from being a very competitive car on the straights to one of the slower cars in a straight line. We still could put together a competitive lap, but passing cars in traffic became quite the task.
Qualifying the next day was in typical British fashion with on and off drizzling rain. I drove Q1, and, unfortunately, the session was compromised when another car made contact with me, cracking my right rear wheel and preventing us from setting a time on a dry track before the rain started to fall.
During Q2, it rained quite heavily at the beginning of the session. However, as the track started to dry towards the end of Q2, my teammate, Fabio, was able to put in a time that would insure we would at least not start towards the end of the grid.
At the end of Q3, Jeroen slotted in 31st of 62 cars. It would be a tough starting position, but as the starting driver I was up for the challenge.
The start was absolute madness, with cars going five wide into Maggotts – Becketts. On the opening lap I picked up nearly 10 positions, and from there the rest of the stint was a dogfight.
There was not one lap that went by where there wasn’t at least one time we went 2-3 wide into a corner.
Unfortunately, with the new BoP, trying to pass in race conditions was almost impossible. At the end of the day, the 19 car ended up a respectable 17th.
It wasn’t the result we were hoping for, however, Paul Ricard brings new challenges at a track where Lamborghini and GRT Grasser feel quite confident. Until next time.