Race win at Spa Francorchamps!
Well that was an unexpected and brilliant weekend!
On Friday afternoon I received a call from V8 Racing asking me to drive the Renault RS01 alongside GT star Nicky Pastorelli in the International GT Open at Spa Francorchamps. The team only decided to enter the race at the last minute hence the late call. I dashed off to the Eurotunnel and got to the hotel at Spa around 1.00am.
As the practice sessions had already taken place on Friday, my first laps in the car were in qualifying on Saturday morning and according to the series regulations I was to qualify for the first race, qualifying 6th place on the grid.
I started the race which unfortunately was soon under safety car conditions due to a large accident but thankfully Fernando Monje is OK following this. With a few laps of racing before the pit window opened I managed to make a few positions before pitting and handing over to Nicky who did a great job, making up a few more places to finish 2nd! We were all delighted with such a great result when the car had only been entered at the last minute. With no laps during Friday practice this was a great achievement for the team.
On the Sunday, it was Nicky’s turn to qualify and start the race. Qualifying was dry and we would start in 3rd. However by the time the race started the legendary Spa weather had changed and it was torrential rain! The race started under the safety car due to the adverse weather conditions. The race continued under the safety car almost until the pit stop window, so Nicky only had a few laps under green before handing over to me.
Because we had finished 2nd in the previous race we had a success penalty of 10 seconds during our pit stop. When I came out I was 7th but by the time the pit stops wound out I was 3rd and began closing down the leaders ahead. With 18 minutes of the 60 minute race remaining I was right behind the leading Aston Martin GT3 and made a move around the outside at Fagnes to take the lead.
I knew that behind me were some of the best GT drivers trying very hard to catch me. The team kept me updated on the gap which I managed to keep around 7 seconds to take the first victory for the Renault RS01 in the GT Open Series and my second win at Spa. The Renault RS01 was excellent in the wet conditions and although we’d lose time in the first sector, I was able to make up time in the second sector to keep the lead stable.
What a feeling to cross the line as the winners! The V8 Racing team and GP Extreme were absolutely delighted with the win and it felt amazing to be back on the top step of the podium at Spa alongside Nicky after such a fantastic race.
Thanks to my manager Brad Fincham of Define Performance, GP Extreme, V8 Racing and Nicky Pastorelli for this fantastic opportunity. We really made the most of it and hopefully we can complete the rest of the season as we sit third in the championship after this weekend!
Thank you to my partners, Zenith Vehicle Contracts, LA Micro, Workflow and Nine Group for their continued support and thanks to everyone who sent messages!
The race highlights are being shown on Motors TV (Sky channel 447) (International GT Open Highlights) over the next week.