The results were underwhelming and losing my 100 per cent record was a tough pill to swallow, but I know I can’t win them all and we achieved the next best thing by finishing second, limiting the damage to my championship lead, now 18 points with five races remaining.
Since then, I’ve become a qualified race instructor, having passed my Association of Racing Drivers Schools test at the UK’s fastest racetrack, Thruxton. The programme began with a few sighter laps alongside my instructor in a road-going Ford Puma, as I’d never driven the circuit before, and then came an introduction to verbal instruction, simulating what’s expected of a coach during a three-lap session.
Apparently, I talk way too much: we were already at Turn 4 when I’d only just finished describing Turn 2 so I dialled it back and soon progressed to the second phase of training, designed around retail experience days and ‘fast taxi’ rides.
I was sat beside a senior instructor in a Renault Megane RS, driving within myself at around eight tenths, more than sufficient to scare your passenger – for somebody with no racing experience, it feels like you’re on the limit of adhesion, and you can see this in customers’ expressions and when they go for the imaginary brake pedal!
I met Thruxton’s Senior Instructor Andrew Franklin and have already made calls to Goodwood, Brands Hatch and car clubs about potential coaching opportunities, as my intention is to make race instruction my day-to-day occupation to support my racing career, and I’m trying to make myself widely available.
My performances at Snetterton and during my ARDS course at Thruxton weren’t hampered by lingering back pain, triggered during my day of testing on the Silverstone Grand Prix circuit in June.
While productive and enlightening, 70-plus laps of Silverstone’s high-speed confines took its toll, punching the brake pedal with my left leg sending high loads up through my spine and causing an injury that’s as yet undiagnosed.
Performance Elite Sports Conditioning Coach Tom Archer referred me to a chiropractor, who has cracked a few bones and placed me in some very awkward positions to straighten me out.
Now it’s time to return to ‘the home of British Motor Racing’ for the penultimate round of the SR1 Cup this weekend, and I’m thankful to have been given the all-clear to continue training with Tom, because my neck has to be in prime condition for this next instalment.
As before, two standard 20-minute sprints will be run on Saturday, but a gruelling 40-minute endurance race on Sunday will double the physical and mental strain.
Tom and I have been preparing for 12 and 24-hour endurance events in demanding GT cars since the start of our collaboration so I’m confident I’ll be the most race-fit driver on the grid.
Whoever’s capable of keeping the car on the limit for the duration will likely emerge as the victor, although my Scorpio Motorsport team has another ace up its sleeve if strategy comes into play, with Michael Schumacher’s former tyre engineer James Fleuty in its ranks.
I returned home from the most recent SR1 Cup round at Snetterton feeling incredibly motivated for Silverstone.
I lost the wins through tiny, innocuous errors, but I’ve always recovered well from the lows, never making the same mistake twice.
I have confidence in my team and myself, and I know the last two circuits on the 2021 calendar both suit my car, which has always been strong on the straights and through fast corners.
There are very few big stops left at Silverstone and Donington Park so normal service should be resumed, with me on the top step of the winners’ rostrum, and I’ve been spending at least an hour a day on the simulator and I’m determined to show that my championship challenger James Lay is going to have to work a whole lot harder to get the better of me.