Sometimes you have them evenings where if anything could go wrong.. it does and it did. My new V3 pedals turned up the Monday before the race, giving me a couple of days to adjust to the change. Set up of them was ok, everything was working fine in practice and I was back on pace.
Come race day, my pace wasn’t the best in the dry and fortunately, when loading in to the lobby, it was a wet practice, dry quali and then wet race. I managed to qualify P3 after getting a lap in right at the end but having been fastest in practice in the wet, with a wet race, I knew I had an advantage. (edited)
I had the usual sluggish Aston Martin start and was overtaken in to T1 however, P1 and P2 made contact, both spinning off, I managed to avoid this by going over the kerbs and settled into P2. The guy in front was P2 in the championship but a fair way behind (62 points) so I knew even if I just held here, I would be in a good place at the halfway point of the season.
Then, disaster struck.. 3 laps in, I lost about 30% input on my acceleration and couldn’t achieve 100% brake input. I tried to fix this on the fly which resulted in my pedals cutting out completely. I pulled offline thinking I could fix it and was hit from behind, giving me around 30 seconds of damage.
I managed to get the pedals going again, within 2 laps the same issue. I boxed, tried to reset the pedals again, got going and in to T1, had no brakes. Again, offline trying to fix these I was hit from behind and at this point, I felt it was best to retire the car.
Not the perfect start to my relationship with new pedals and funnily enough, after retiring the car, I went on a solo practice and had them working perfectly within minutes.. They have been fine ever since!
After the awful result from the previous week and with everything working properly, I knew Spa was an opportunity for me to make up for the DNF at Monza. The Aston works like a dream here and while I was still learning the feeling of the new pedals, I was quickly on pace and feeling comfortable in race trim.
I qualified P5, I didn’t have a great quali set up but I knew I would be solid for the race. I got off the line and lost a place before Eau Rouge but managed to get a better run up Radillion and take the place back. Things then got very tight as we almost went 3 wide at the end of the Kemel Straight.
Unfortunately for me, I was on the outside and got clipped, sent straight on managing to avoid the wall I came back on at the escape road and slotted back in to P5.
I had set the car up perfectly for the race and knew my pace would be good. Add to that how good the Aston is on tyres, I decided to run the car light for the first stint. I quickly moved in to P4, then P3 and at around the 20 minute mark of the race, took P2.
At this point, P1 had got over 5 seconds on me and I only had 15mins before I was due to stop to try and close in. I managed to get the gap down to 1.6 seconds before I pitted, had a perfect stop and came out in clear air and was able to put the hammer down.
15mins later P1 was in the pits, I knew I would be close and it turned out better than I had expected. As I came up Radillion, he was coming back on to the track and with the over speed, I was able to make the move in to P1.
He quickly got the tyres up to temp and was closing me back down, we had a comfortable lead on P3 and my championship rival had been given a DT due to track limits (something which reared its ugly head later on).
I let P2 pass me, I knew at this point of the race he was quicker but I would have better grip and pace at the end to make an attempt to take P1 back. Sadly, my concentration took a lapse and I ran off track, picking up my second warning.
This quickly became my third, leaving me one off track away from a DT and yeah, you guessed it. 9 minutes from the end sitting comfortably in P2 and closing P1 in, I ran off track, I genuinely held my breath as it wasn’t in a part where an advantage was gained but before the final corners the dreaded DT popped up.
I wasted no time in diving in to the pits to take this, which at Spa costs around 55-60 seconds and could not be further from ideal. I came back out in P10 with around 8 minutes to go, in my desperation to get going again, I whacked the wall on pit exit and landed myself with 19 seconds of damage, things were quickly going bad to worse.
I managed to settle down and before the end moved up to P8. I was absolutely gutted and annoyed with myself but, we’re all human, we all make mistakes and I had the benefit of my championship rival finishing P15 meaning I opened my lead back up to 42 points, after he had taken the win the previous week when I had my first DNF of the season.
So, after a couple of difficult weeks, I will be looking to bounce back this week at Suzuka, a track I seem to get on with quite well. I’m not worried if it is going to be dry or wet as I feel comfortable in both conditions but the main focus is to extend the championship lead further and get another step closer to winning the title.
There’s no race with oNiD this week so it’s only ACR but as ever, I will be looking to see what’s about as a possible one-off event.
As ever, if you’d like to keep up with my Twitter, you’ll find me on @JimboMansi_46.