Thank you to all our clients & friends who have been following our Fun Cup journey, as our 3 rookie drivers negotiate their first season of endurance racing. Jo tweets avidly on test & race days – the level of phone calls & emails we receive tracking progress & offering encouragement to the team has been surprising & gratefully received by the whole team. Time then for a mid-season update.
Over the month of July all eyes in the Fun Cup world are polarised on the Circuit of Spa in Belgium – home to the F1 Grand Prix. It’s a driver’s circuit & arguably ranks as one of the best in the world. The circuit plays host to the Fun Cup Spa 25 hours – billed as the longest race in the world. A step too far this year for Team CAT Driver Training, with our drivers needing a few more signatures on their national B licences before venturing across the water. That said it has given the whole team a breather before our next round at Brands Hatch on August 31st 2013.
The Half Way Point
As we prepare for the second half of our season, the summer break has given us time to take stock & assess our performance so far. There are six UK rounds this year & we are competing in all of them, so with 3 down & 3 to go how have we been doing?
- Round 1 Oulton Park 4 hour race: Finishing Position 20th from 23 starters
- Round 2 Donington 1 hour Sprint race: Finishing Position 25th from 30 starters
- Round 2 Donington 4 hour Feature race: Finishing Position 19th from 30 startesr
- Round 3 Snetterton 5 hour: Finishing Position 16th from 24 starters
I am very happy to report we are achieving improvement consistently every round. The feeling of euphoria, excitement & achievement radiates throughout the team at the end of every race.
Our motivation when setting up the team was not to field 3 “hot shots” who could win from the off – we are a training company & that ethos had to be our motivator when viewing how the team would function & our objectives for each round.
Each driver through CAT Driver Training had prepared to drive well, the racing however, has to be experienced to appreciate the higher level of personal commitment needed to race competitively: we have held their hands making the landing into motorsport as soft as possible. As with most things in life, at some point you have to put your “head in the lions mouth” before you really know what is expected of you. Once the first race had been completed & the sensory overload had begun to subside, we realised we had a benchmark to work from & positions to aim for above our previous best. We could now focus on achievable objectives for the team, the drivers & 169 each & every time we practice, test & race.
We sign off our objectives for the Saturday race at the end of Friday testing – this is a team discussion with the driver’s involvement being paramount. Each round has created a new set of challenges for our rookie drivers: track knowledge; track length; race distance; racing in the pack; qualifying; race craft; optimising setup; driving consistently at & often beyond grip limit; driving in “the zone”. The list is long & complex. As each subject is experienced & understood, the objective organically moves & changes – each race weekend in effect is a training session, albeit an intense one. I now feel comfortable the drivers are up to speed with what they need to do on the day. As anyone who has competed before knows, we all have to work hard to be fast – not many drivers “ace it” in their first season.
This is without doubt a team activity. Time keeping, refuelling, fire marshalling, race strategy, catering, data logging interrogation & team administration have been covered not just by the professional members of the team. Friends & clients are also reaping the benefit, understanding the pleasure & complexity of fielding a racing car in a competitive championship.
As the season has progressed we are getting our heads around the subtlety of extracting pace from the Fun Cup chassis. Graham Hope of Vitesse Engineering – our lead engineer – has found us reliability & pace. Matt Friend from Track Toys – our set up engineer – continues to find us speed on the day. We have engineering objectives as well as those for the drivers, so improving the car has taken a progressive & logical path. Car 169 is developing over the season, gaining pace at a similar rate to the drivers & as budgets allow. 169 is user friendly, as it should be for three new drivers. As their skills develop we are finding small bites of speed – the consequence being the drivers are working harder behind the wheel to optimise the reward.
Roll on Brands Hatch. We have a track day to enjoy together before race weekend. I also have a stretch target for the drivers based on their performance so far. I hope the drivers are feeling confident & don’t think I am pushing them too hard. I will share our objectives with you on Friday evening August 30th via a tweet from Jo – don’t forget you can catch all of the action on Motors TV with airing of the race 2-3 weeks after race day.
Thank you for your interest & support. If you would like to join us at Brands Hatch for race day, Saturday August 31st, all are welcome. See you there.