Good qualifying got 4th, which was as good as I likely to get. I think I had another 6 tenths in me, but was over a second off 3rd so happy to be “best of the rest” and feeling confident for the race.
Had an okay start and maintained position in to the first corner, all looking relatively calm, and then I very gently nudged @cscotty. It really was the tiniest of touches, but enough to put him off balance and as a result I then got hit in the rear pushing me wide. When I rejoined all sorts was going on with a Lotus backwards and other such stuff and I’d been given a penalty for my touch on @cscotty, which I felt a little harsh.
However, later in the lap when behind @strongo83 he broke much earlier than me on the fast left leading into the “Massa” section and I hit him in the rear, causing him to spin. Apologies to both because I try to be very clean and made two small errors which affected others races, which is not my style.
After that I was in 5th with Dazza Archer ahead of me, and catching up quite quickly. Got to about 1 second behind, and was 10 seconds ahead of 6th place when I made a stupid mistake going into the “Massa” section spinning badly and losing around 17 seconds (previous lap was a 1:33.0 and I did a 1:51 that lap) and putting me down into 9th.
I recovered to 8th and was catching @zsmokey quite quickly and he then pitted before me, on around lap 8. I needed two clean fast laps before my pit stop on lap 11 to keep in touch and use my pace to pass him, so what do I do – have a stupid spin under traction for Turn 2 on lap 9 and lose another 7 seconds. IDIOT.
Sure enough after I pitted on lap 11 for the primes I was 9 seconds down, instead of 2 seconds. After that I resolved to just try and do a perfect final stint on the primes, knowing that on pure pace I had enough to catch and pass @zmokey and maybe pull out the 10 seconds I needed to keep 7th by the end.
After a few scrappy laps in the mid 1:30s where the gap maintained I started to lose hope, but then I found my zone and between lap 18 and 29 put in 12 laps that were all between a 1:30.2 and a 1:31.6, most between 1:30.8 and 1:31.2 – really good consistency and I was between a second and 2 seconds a lap faster than @zmokey. When I was around 3 seconds behind him he made a mistake at the “Massa” curves and I swept past (would have been around Lap 20). I had 10 laps to pull out 10 seconds and keep 7th place.
Around lap 27 I was hovering around 9.5 seconds when I realised that @lemon was not far behind me (less than 5 seconds) and I really needed him not to lap me, just in case I couldn’t pull out the 10 seconds on @zmokey. My pace at this point was it’s best, and I put my fastest 2 laps of the race in on lap 28 an 29 to make sure @lemon didn’t lap me, by a couple of seconds.
Typically I then made a mistake on lap 30 which lost me about 5 seconds but ultimately brought the car home for a 7th place. Before the race I’d have been happy with that. But given the notable absences from the field and my pace today, 4th should have been my minimum objective and through 2 stupid spins losing me 25 seconds I lost my opportunity for a good result and a battle with the likes of @maddogmolloy, @mrgrieves and @dazzarcher.
After 2 races now I’ve come out of it feeling on both occasions that a lack of consistency has let me down, and in both races the soft tyre has been my undoing. This one was more baffling as I had done 2 race distances and was confident that I could have a consistent run to lap 11 on my softs without tyre issues. I perhaps need an online practice race as the cars are slightly different to either TT or Quick Race on this mode, but it’s hard to deal with.
Still 6 solid points for the Sauber team, and my pace has been good both races so far, so I just need to cut out those 2 big time losing spins a race that I’m struggling with at present and a top 5 result shouldn’t be beyond my grasp.
Good fun in the sprints too! See you all next week at Abu Dhabi!