After getting two class podiums at the first round, Anna was hoping for more of the same.
The weekend’s races were being held on the full Donington Park Grand prix circuit which Anna had not driven on before, (All her previous races were on the shorter circuit.) so Saturday’s Qualifying was also used to help Anna learn the circuit. Both her and her team mate, Ian Donaldson did three laps each and then Anna took over the car for the rest of the session to try and learn it as much as possible before the race in the afternoon. The car was fifth in class on the grid for the first 90 minute race.
Ian started race one and with old tyres on the car he had a good stint and when the time came for the pit stop to handover to Anna all went smoothly. Anna took over and kept pushing to try and get to the front of the class. By the closing stages Anna was up to second in class and things were looking good for another podium finish. A safety car was out on track at this point after an incident elsewhere on track. This put all the cars together on track and on the lap after the restart, Anna went to pass one of the cars, a Seat Leon Supercopa at the Melbourne hairpin. Unfortunately the Seat driver failed to see Anna’s rather large BMW and he turned in on her damaging Anna’s wheel. This lost them time but they had a big enough advantage over the third in class car that Anna still crossed the line with a class second.
Sunday’s race had a separate qualifying session and this time Anna was sharing her car with Kevin Clarke. They took class pole this time and things looked set for a great race. Race two was early on Sunday afternoon and the weather had been changeable for the whole morning leaving the track wet but drying. With Anna starting the race this time, a decision was made at the last minute to start on slicks. This would be tougher initially with the wet surface offering very little grip on cold tyres but it should save them time later on in the race allowing them to jump to the front of the field when others make tyre stops. Because the change was so late, Anna had to start from the pitlane. Initially the car had “interesting” handling but the track was soon starting to dry meaning Anna was getting quicker all the time. Sadly disaster then struck when a bolt holding the lower front wishbone sheared. This fired Anna off the track at the chicane and she did very well to avoid an impact with both the track and other competitors. The car would have to be recovered to the pits and this took a while. They were now well out of contention for a class win or even a podium but it was worth fixing the car to try and get out and score some points. Once the car was returned to the pit garage, the team were very quick to fix the damage.
The failure was likely to be a legacy of the previous days bump. Anna went back out and handed over to Kevin Clarke when planned. Kevin drove as hard as he could and managed to stay out on slick tyres when there was a shower of rain late in the race. All the effort was worth it though as despite losing positions in race two, they are now first in their class championship and fifth in the overall championship.
Anna next heads to Spa Francochamps in Belgium for the next rounds on the weekend of the 6th-8th June. She and the team will be trying to build on points already scored and trying for the class win. By Marc Waller