P1 in Progression Race!
My time in the UK has been amazing so far. It’s also been very busy. After all our pre-Formula Ford Festival testing, which also included a race weekend at Castle Combe, Elliott and I spent a week sharing an Airbnb in the town of Milton Keynes, while Thomas went back home to the U.S. finish off his F1600 season… which he did in style. Welldone, Thomas!
During that time we were able to do a bit of exploring and sightseeing. We also had the pleasure of spectating at the final round of the British Touring Car Championship at Brands Hatch. Big thank you to Tom Arron for acquiring us media passes for the Sunday event. It was a great time watching not only BTCC but British F4 and the Porsche Carrera Cup as well. We walked all the way around the track and enjoyed seeing the ins and outs of the media center during a busy weekend. Being able to view the races from the top deck of the tower was pretty awesome as well.
We arrived back at our Airbnb around 11pm that night and immediately passed out. The following day we took the time to relax, work on our social media platforms and send off emails. Lucky for us, the house we were staying at was only a short walk to the nearest train station. So Tuesday and Thursday morning, we got up fairly early and headed off to London. It was such a cool experience. With so much old architecture, the city is rich in history. We spent most of our time walking through the Soho area, where it was amazing to see so many classic shops, pubs and restaurants. By just exploring the city on our own, we saw what an average citizen might see on a day to day basis. I think we really got a great taste for UK culture.
After spending a week exploring and regenerating, we headed off to Donington Park for the final rounds of the GB3 and GB4 seasons as well as the British GT Championship which featured both G3 and GT4 cars. It was great to see our fellow Americans Bryce Aron and Max Esterson, who are both Team USA alumni. It was a beautiful two days of racing, with clear weather and great battles in GB3. Being at Donington was an experience in itself, a legendary track that has been around for nearly a century. Thank you, MSV media, for having us!
The following Tuesday we drove back to Brands Hatch. It is such an awesome track! I’ve driven WeatherTech Raceway Laguna Seca and I thought the Corkscrew was steep but it is nothing compared to the entrance of Paddock Hill Bend! Wednesday showed perfect weather and we got a full day of testing in dry conditions. The day went very smoothly and everyone on the Ammonite Motorsport team immediately showed strong pace. Thursday and Friday both brought full wet and half dry conditions, which was great because it gave us experience in many different scenarios.
Come Saturday, I was drawn in Heat Four, which meant we were the last group on track, and by this time the track was pretty much fully dry. Each qualifying session was supposed to be 12 minutes long, although our session was red-flagged at around nine minutes. At that time I was in pole position but once we went back out I could not find a rhythm and ended up in third place for qualifying. It was slightly disappointing but we were still in a great place for the first race. Unfortunately, that momentum didn’t last long and on lap three coming out of Druids we were sent off into the barriers. My mechanic, Luke, did an amazing job getting the car back together and ready for battle on Sunday. Because of the crash, I didn’t automatically advance to the Semi Final and had to start ninth in the Progression Race. By this time the rain had returned, but by the end of lap one, I worked my up into second place. Once I got around the leader I was then able to pull a gap of over seven seconds before cruising home to grab the victory.
I wasn’t out of it yet though, I would still have to finish top 12 in the Semi Final to make it into the Grand Final. Starting 25th, I had a very poor start and fell to last place, 30th, by Turn 1. This ended up being one of my best car races to date as I finished the race in 10th place after 12 laps. I was so relieved and so glad to have been able to make such a comeback after only doing three laps in my Heat race.
My result meant I would start 20th for the Grand Final, so I had a lot of work to do. With rain clouds drawing ever nearer, we threw a wet setup on the car in preparation for wet weather. The first three laps of the race were dry and I was still able to make it up to the 15th position. That’s when the rain came with a vengeance. It was so bad they had to red-flag the race, and on top of that, it was starting to get dark. It was quite a bummer because we were in a perfect position with our setup and 16 racing laps still to go, but there wasn’t enough time before darkness for the race to be restarted.
A huge congrats to Max Esterson on the win, he was also running with Ammonite Motorsports.
It was great spending the week with such a strong group of drivers and with a great team. Ammonite Motorsports killed it all weekend and I had a great time with everyone. Thank you so much Team USA and all of our supporters for making this all possible. I’m so grateful to be able to represent the stars and stripes at two of the most prestigious races in junior open wheel racing. Now, all focus is shifted to the Walter Hayes Trophy where we’ll be even stronger.
In addition, we had an opportunity to visit the Haas F1 factory yesterday. It was interesting to see the ins and outs of transportation for a Formula 1 team. Mark Lowe, our guide for the day, was incredibly knowledgeable about the car and everything it takes to run a successful team. We were incredibly lucky to see a few wings and floors up close and in the process of repair, as well as getting to see the 2019 car being prepared to send to team owner Gene Haas in the States. Thank you to Jeremy Shaw, Mr. Lowe and Mr. Morrison for setting up an awesome day. It was a perfect way to relax after a long week of racing.