Had a weird but quite satisfying race tonight. And @zsmokey is definitely becoming my rival of the season.
Decided before the race that I was going to qualify on primes, as didn’t have the pace for pole. Crashed on my first flying lap, and regrouped and put together a better, albeit still shoddy 2nd lap for 9th on the grid. I’m confident that I could’ve got 7th on the grid if I’d not made those mistakes.
Start was okay, and looked like being clean, but then a car returning from the wide gave me nowhere to go and I tagged him, with me ending up in the barrier on the inside. Probably my fault on balance, but was more of a racing incident, and after 2 corners I had a ten second penalty.
Over first half dozen laps had some good battles with @zsmokey, @mrgrieves and @strongo83, and was pleased with how well I managed to avoid the back of @mrgrieves on one lap into the turn 4/5 chicane after he’d had to brake hard to avoid @strongo83 or @zsmokey in front of him.
Then had a good battle with @zsmokey before he made a mistake at the left/right/left (turns 9 thru 11?). Looked like being another repeat of last week with me needing to beat @zsmokey by 10 seconds plus to keep 7th place.
On the counter strategy @ljkobrien and @dazzaarcher came out behind me and on fresher tyres quickly reeled me in. I decided to defend, as it’s nice to race against cars wheel to wheel and then at turn 13 (? – the tight right hander in S3) @ljkobrien gave me a nice little nudge from behind causing me to run wide and be passed by both of them. No real harm done, and I hope he didn’t get a 10 second penalty for it.
My scheduled pit stop was on lap 19 and around lap 17 my gap to @zsmokey was around 25 seconds, then coming out of the last turn on lap 18 I had a big moment and hit the wall, but kept it in the right direction and it lost me just 4 or so seconds. At this stage I didn’t know if @zsmokey had stopped yet or not, but figured he must’ve done.
When I pitted on lap 19 I came out on unused options, 2 seconds behind @zsmokey on primes and immediately laughed as I realised I was in for a repeat of last week, catch and pass @zsmokey and then built 10 seconds+ to keep the position. A lap later I had caught @zsmokey and he made a mistake in a braking zone allowing me to pass just before the last corner. To my surprise he then went into the pits again, which in effect ended my race as a spectacle.
I had fresh options on though and had been saving fuel and managed to pump in a few hot laps including for the first time ever a Fastest Lap during a race! Really chuffed, and with @ms20‘s unfortunate retirement, 6th place is much more than I could ever have hoped for at a race that I hate.
Finally I’ve had a race where I didn’t spin on multiple occasions and loose loads of time. Wish I could have had this consistency at the previous 2 races, where my pace was stronger!
Roll on Spain, and @zsmokey I’ll see you out on the race track no doubt! :-)