Brands Hatch – Sunday 12th September 2021 – Blog post by Matty
The day that could have been……!
Over the last few weeks, I’ve been working hard to fix some issues on our new BMW 116 – a car we’ve introduced to the TeamKarting business for our ‘Karting to Cars’ initiative.
Already we’ve welcomed some of our young X-Kart karting stars to the track for their first experiences of car racing in this vehicle, including Sandro Ballesteros and Jacob Jukes.
The car is my former Team BRIT race car and I know it has the power and handling to be super competitive on the track. I decided to remind myself just how pacey it is by dropping into the latest round of the Gaz Shocks 116 Trophy Championship at Brands Hatch.
I was joined by former karter James Austin, and together we were keen to pose some serious competition on the grid, despite the lack of prep time.
We’d been unable to thoroughly test due to some technical issues, so we went into qualifying blind, unsure how the car would perform. With some serious determination, I went out first and managed to qualify P15 out of 27 cars.
Not everything was running right, so we re-mapped the car in the break, renewing our confidence and giving us everything to push for.
I started the race, with a clear plan of getting as far up the grid as possible.
I managed to get up to P8 within the first 15 minutes which was amazing, then the worst happened and I was hit by another car, halting my progress.
We had no choice but to take an early pit stop. Championship regulations demand 2 x mandatory pit stops during the race. We therefore used this one as a dummy stop to check the car and adjusted the strategy to do a driver swap later in the pit window.
Following our early pit, we came out P14. About 10 minutes after exiting the pits, a car got stuck in the gravel, bringing out a safety car. We made a quick decision over the radio to pit. James had about 25 seconds to get himself ready before the car arrived, which meant he barely made it back from the toilet!
A frantic but efficient driver swap was completed and James exited the pits P18. Having already completed an early pit stop we didn’t have to pit again – leaving him clear to crack on and make as much progress as possible.
It became a waiting game… stay competitive, on the pace and wait for cars in front to pit. That is exactly what James did. At one point he was the pace setter! With 5 minutes to go James was fighting for P5 when once again we were struck with bad luck. A late lunge by another car and he was spun round.
Once the car got re-started, James pushed on and finished in a super impressive P9 – an incredible result considering the technical issues, lack of testing and not one but two contacts from other cars.
Things going wrong is part and parcel of motorsport – you take the ups with the downs and keep on pushing.
I really enjoyed the weekend – it was great to have friends and family with us and for once I donned the race engineer’s hat to manage the comms for James when my driving stint was over.
HUGE thanks to Amigo Motorsport for all the help, to everyone in the 116 Trophy paddock for being so friendly and welcoming and to KSD Custom Paint for dropping off my new helmet in the nick of time to race.
We have unfinished business – we’ll be back to race again soon and we cannot wait!
This car has a huge future ahead – I’ll be getting behind the wheel again for some race action and our young superstars will be using it to learn their craft.