Special Spa day treat for Keiran
So I get the call from Tony Gilham to ask me if I want a race in one of his VW Cup GTI cars. Not only that, but at the Legendary Spa Francorchamps. Talk about being thrown in at the deep end! Bags were packed, flights were booked, off to Belgium it is!
The APR Vw Cup's level of organisation is of a really high level completely different to what I had been used to racing in the Scottish Legends Championship. So I arrived on the Friday, just after testing had finished. This meant that my first track experience of Spa, and the LHD VW Cup Car, was going to be Qualifying on the Saturday. Saturday Qualifying: At the start of the qualifying session I had the intentions of going out, picking another car and sticking with them to learn the lines and get used to the car. I decided this was probably not a good idea as I could be picking someone pretty used to their car. I hung back, warmed the tyres up and went at my own pace. This made me thought I was going to be dead last in the Qualifying resulting on a back of the grid start. The car felt amazing, very tight and turned in very well, something I am not used to at all. Then the time sheets came in, I had managed to get 19th on the grid, out of 25. Sunday Race 1: Feeling happy with my qualifying position, I was feeling confident that it was going to be an action packed race. Feeling nervous about doing my first ever standing start in a race, I focused myself on getting past a few cars that were in front of me. Lights went to red, then out. It was all go in my first ever race in the VW Cup. The car infront of me stalled, and the marshalls had bunched us up so close that I couldn't get around him. Once we got going again I had moved down to 24th from 19th losing 5 positions. Unhappy with this I knew it was time to get the power down, and make an impression on both the team, and the other drivers. Round the first corner, I had outbraked 2 cars, one on either side. Pushing my way through. Round 'La Source' and it was on with the downhill towards 'Eau Rouge', a very daunting corner. On with the power and I was down to 22nd, passed another 2 cars pushing me to 20th position. Battled my way over 'Eau Rouge' and came out at the top right behind another 2 cars. Round them on the 'Kemmel Straight'. Down to 18th. Over the next few laps I was just trying to get to grips with the car, pushing every extra second out each corner that I couldn't from the previous laps. Race finished, 16th Position. Was over the moon with this result, 8 places up on where I had dropped to on the start line. Race 2 Will be interesting, I just knew it. Sunday Race 2: Having had a chat with the other lads in Team-HARD, found my best routes around some of the tricky bends, and the standing starts that I knew would be my downfall. I would be starting in 16th Position. So back to the grid on this really hot day in Belgium. Still couldn't believe I was racing at a track where the likes of Senna had been racing. The marshalls had bunched us up together again, so I was praying that a stall from the driver infront of me wouldn't reflect on my race. Lights went red, and out. It was back to the fast paced action of the APR Cup. I didn't have a great start, but better than before, only dropping 2 places to 18th. I pushed the car and myself to my limit to grab as many positions as I could. In doing so I completed the race, ahead of the drivers I had randomly selected to finish in front of. 11th Position. In my first ever weekend of VW Cup. I was very happy indeed. Straight after the race I had to get changed as quickly as possible and drive to Brussells Airport as I had a plane to catch back to Glasgow via Heathrow for Rounds 4 & 5 of the Legends. As if 2 x 25 minute races weren't enough, I had 6 races on the sunday at Knockhill. All in all, it was an amazing experience to be able to race with Team-HARD and I hope there is a few more oppurtunities like this in the future.