Errrr … nevertheless, finishing 3rd
We had high hopes of a success after testing Tuesday before the race. The spirit was high. So when we started FP1, I was simply baffled by the car’s behavior. It was sliding everywhere, with hugh amount of over steer, losing the back end of the car on most slow corners. Yes, its true that when I arrived on Friday, I was told that on our Tuesday test the car was set with a lower engine map setting, thus a reduction in the turbo. We also had a different PPS, Pedal Positioning Setting, which was less aggressive on Tuesday. Thus, the combined increase in the turbo plus the more aggressive PPS intensified the over steer issue.
The next morning for FP2, we decided to set the PPS back to the same setting we had on Tuesday without changing the engine map. It turned out to be a much better car to drive. I was slightly off the pace as the first seven cars had new tires and I was on old tires. I was not worried.
When qualifying started I took my time to enter the track letting everyone through. I found a spot and entered the track. All went okay until the 7th lap. The tires had reached 1.80 bars of pressure which meant the car was simply un-drivable! On corner 10, I turned the steering wheel and the car simply rotated by itself. I simply had to apply power at the right time to exit the corner. I knew than I could not do better and pitted. I was 7th on the grid for the qualifying race.
The start of the qualifying race went well without losing position. I tried for a number of laps to pass the Lamborghini in front but it was very difficult. The driver was defending very aggressively. We had 5 minutes to go and I decided to try a pass in turn 10. I passed him but overshot my braking by 40 meters at which time arriving at the apex, the car in front of the Lamborghini, a Ferrari, turned into me. It was race over for both the Ferrari and I. Once our cars respectively stopped, I went straight to the Ferrari driver to apologize. That was not the end of it, as the Race Director decided to penalize me for the incident I caused by starting the main race in the pits!
We were all getting prepared for a good main race, as drops of water started down from the sky. It did not look too bad and a decision had to be made whether to start on wets or dry. The Race Director decided to call it a wet race, thus allowing the teams to change to wet tires at their discretion. I didn’t believe we needed wets, but asked my engineer to check the other cars. As I was starting from pit lane, I had to come back through the pits, which gave me another chance to change tires again if needed. My engineer came to the radio stating that all cars had switched to wet tires, so we did the same thing. Once I entered the track I realized it was the good decision. I came back into the pits for the start at which time it started to rain very hard. The race director decided to start the race under the safety car. Once the last car went through I joined. After 3 laps under the safety car and after 3 cars had crashed, the race director decided to red flag the race. The race director then decided that the race would not resume! That was it! End of the race. End of the championship!
Where did we end the Championship: 3rd! A great result considering everything that happened during the championship.
Now it’s time off for the next 5 months. Meanwhile the team and I will discuss 2018. I intent to stay with Boutsen in the BMW M6 GT3. BMW is coming with new updates for 2018 and the car should be a much easier to drive. The only questions is whether we stay in Blancpain Sports Club, or go back to Blancpain Endurance!
I would like to thank my sponsors and supporters for having given me the chance to race and follow me. See you next season.