DRIVER DIARY: PLAYING CATCH-UP

Once again, it’s been a while since my last diary update, so there’s some ground to make up…..

I can’t believe how quickly the 2011 season seems to have flown by, as there’s just one race weekend remaining in the Formula Ford Championship of Great Britain, and then the Formula Ford Festival to round things off, both in the next couple of weeks.

Since my last diary entry, the UK series has raced at both Brands Hatch and Donington Park, and both rounds showed the continuing potential of the Fluid Van Diemen, even if fortune wasn’t always on our side.

Indeed, Brands Hatch hasn’t been our luckiest circuit this year, with the weather upsetting our run on the Grand Prix circuit in June, while the return in September also saw the Fluid team affected by circumstances out of its control. Pre-race testing had gone very well, as usual, and we returned to race on the Indy circuit full of confidence that an enhanced set-up would allow us to get among the pacesetters. Instead, a gearbox problem, higher-than-expected temperatures and the effect of the DTM rubber on track all combined to deny us a decent position in qualifying.

The Indy layout is not the easiest for passing on, so starting from tenth was always going to make it tough in the weekend’s three races. But we made some changes to the car and proved that it is possible to make up places. Despite losing seventh place to a yellow flag infringement after race one, we showed that it was no fluke by claiming sixth and seventh in the remaining races.

Testing was also good ahead of the Donington round a couple of weeks later but, again, the weekend didn’t quite go to plan. Qualifying was disappointing as we only managed eighth and tenth on the grid, and my starts let me down too, but again I was able to pass people and claimed fifth and seventh in the first two races. The third event was the best, however, as, in damp conditions, I was able to claim another fourth place – equalling my best results of the season so far – and took fastest lap for the first time. The Van Diemen is very positive in the wet, and I’ve always enjoyed racing in those conditions, so it all came together for once.

Those results, and the performances we’ve shown in testing, ensure that we head to Silverstone this weekend optimistic that we can still claim that elusive podium finish. It was always a target for the later rounds of the season, but we haven’t quite managed it yet. Silverstone is where we started the year, back in April, but we’ll finish it on the layout used by the F1 teams at the British Grand Prix. We tested their briefly before Brands and it’s a good layout, so we just need to get qualifying and my starts sorted!

There will be a few more unfamiliar faces on the grid this weekend, and probably the biggest field of the year, but I’m confident that I can be ahead of them. We’ve not quite had the perfect set-up on the car but, if we work hard on that – and I bring my ‘A-game’ – I’m sure we can be up there when it matters.

A week after Silverstone is the famous Formula Ford Festival, which brings together the best drivers in the category from around the world. Winning that would be like winning the championship, but we’ll target the podium as usual and see what happens after that. It takes place on the Indy circuit, so it will be important to qualify and race well as results dictate how you start in each successive round, but it will also be the perfect end to the season.

I’m not sure what we’re doing in 2012 but, if it’s Formula Ford, it will be a fresh challenge as the category gets a facelift and a new car. I’ve seen the basis of what the manufacturers will get to build on and it looks good, but it will be interesting to see what the likes of Van Diemen, Ray and Mygale make of it.

Finally, those of you who follow me on Twitter (@mattparryracing) will know how seriously I take my training, but I had a new experience in the days after Donington Park, when I contested the Coniston Trails event in the Lake District. I’m pleased to report that I finished sixth overall out of 373 competitors, and second in the under-18 category, but I was leading the class until a fall late – that’s my excuse anyway!

I just hope that’s not a bad omen for Silverstone

Until next time,

Matt

 

Article created by Craig Llewellyn.