2012 – RD1&2 Silverstone GP Race Review

Time goes quickly. Infact it only seems the other week we were packing away having just missed out on the title at (funny you should mention it) Silverstone, but here we are again at Silverstone this time on the F1 GP layout to start the 2012 season.

Whilst the close season has actually been 5 months quite a lot has happened since I last went racing. My plans weren’t firmed up until January whether I would be campaigning but an opportunity to run with DPR Motorsport presented itself and so we were soon agreeing to run the whole year and try and go that last step and take the title that narrowly illuded me in 2011.

The Friday test had been very tricky, Silverstone had resurfaced several areas of the track which made handling and grip interesting to say the least. I do like to change the setup on my car frequently but I think we changed just about every setting on the day to get the car where we wanted. Ironically it wasn’t a million miles off where we started the day but you don’t know if your leaving time on the table unless you try!

Race day came around and I opted for my preferred method of qualifying in clean air. The tow is probably worth a good second around Silverstone and I’d banked on running the first half of qualifying on my own to get a banker lap and then maybe catch up with a few cars to see if I could improve my time. As it happened my best lap came fairly early on and when I caught up on people later in the session the cars never came at the right point. Fortunately my time was still good enough for pole position by 0.1 seconds and if I could put that in by myself I knew the pace should bode well for the race. It also meant I had managed to secure pole position for the first round of R300’s in 2009, 2011 and 2012. 2010 will be remembered by me at least for the qualifying session where my engine lasted half a lap and blew itself to pieces.

Despite the fact you know you have good pace, racing especially in packs is always fraught with unknowns with a car not known for its aero. Whilst I don’t mind being behind or around other cars being out in front on your own is preferable if not difficult to engineer! The start off pole for race 1 was good but Mark Shaw, my teammate had made a similarly good start with Jamie Orton and Ian Payne in his first R300 race close behind. The first lap we stayed ahead, trying to pull a gap but not really succeeding. Shaw was hanging on pretty close but not really able to challenge. On lap 2 through Village and Farm I spotted the Red and Yellow stripped flag and general debris on the track. There had obviously been a lap one incident and fluids were down, as it transpired a healthy mix of engine oil and coolant. The car slid nicely over the first huge patch, but from there there was a oil drop pretty much on the racing line around the loop onto the wellington straight. Judging how quick to take it with Mark closely behind me I went in a fraction too quick and understeered clean off the track. Fortunately around the outside there is grass and then more tarmac so I was able to quickly rejoin in second place. Only later did I find out what had happened to cause the slick. Jamie Orton had gone for a move on Ian Payne for third place into farm and not made it stick turning Ian around who was subsequently clouted by Adam Balon ending both of their races, Ian’s permanently for the weekend. My off track excursion only cost me a couple of seconds and I was able to rejoin behind Shaw down the wellington straight and with a good set of corners through the complex and onto the start finish straight I was back in the lead half a lap later. Orton hadn’t lost too much time with his incident and was soon battling Shaw for second and that allowed me to slip away and leave them to fight it out for the remaining podium slots. I eventually finished 4 seconds clear for my first win of the season.

However the drama didn’t end there. Orton was subsequently penalised for the incident with Payne and excluded from the race results. Peter Ratcliffe was promoted from an already best result 4th to take 3rd place, with Shaw having got pipped on the line for second duely promoted to runner up.

Race 2 was a repeat of race 1 by and large. The start was good, aided by an empty grid slot where Orton’s car should of been and I could see in my mirrors as I rounded turn one Shaw hadn’t made the best of starts, but infact series returnee and former R300 championship runner James Sharrock had made a belter of a start to reach second. Whilst they all argued amongst themselves I was already out of the tow and finished lap 1 with a 3 second lead. My team mate Shaw soon made it into second and as we both had clean air between ourselves and other cars it just became a competition via the pit boards who could go quicker. I had the lead over Mark out to 7 seconds before the last couple of laps slowed it down a notch fearful of making a stupid unforced error, the gap at the finish to Mark was over 4 seconds but impressively it was another 25 seconds before the podium line up would be complete with Paul Brannan taking third for Fauldsport.

DPR scored a pair of 1-2 finishes with a fastest lap (to Shaw) giving us a near perfect start in the championship. Anything can and normally does happen so we won’t be resting on our laurels just yet. Adam Balon had a storming drive from the back of the grid after his DNF in race 1 to finish in 4th place with DPR’s Madg Mohaffel in 5th.

With Shaw scoring such solid points again already 2012 looks to be all about consistency. The lead in the championships is a slender 3 points.

Next round Oulton Park – 21st April.

About Paul Wilson

Having a father who raced and a passion for motorsport it was always an ambition to go racing at some point in my life. In my twenties I raced Motocross and Enduro with some success, but I moved onto 4 wheels in 2008 and have not looked back. 2014 will be with Aston Martin Racing in the Vantage GT3 at the VLN with Stuart Leonard. When I'm not racing, I generally spend my time working out how to go quicker and how I'm going to pay for it all......

Posted on March 30, 2012, in Caterham, DPR Motorsport, Motorsport, Photography, Racing and tagged , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.

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