Attleborough, England (November 5, 2007) â€“ Snetterton was the site of this weekendâ€™s final round of the FPA Autumn Trophy. Going into the weekend Pat and I knew that the competition was going to greatly increase. The addition of the McLaren/Autosport BRDC award this weekend has brought many more top names to the grid. As for the Team USA drivers, we had to start fresh again on learning the circuit come Friday morning. Throughout the day I improved with every session, just like Brands last weekend. I finished up the day just outside the top 10 going into qualifying on Saturday.
In the first part of Q1 I wasfifth on the grid, and decided to pit for a bleed down on tire pressures. However, while I was in the pits, the fast times were laid down as I was bumped to 13th position. I was a bit frustrated after this session due to the position on the grid that resulted when the session closed. However, I had gained over a second to the leaders in overall lap times. I would credit this speed to new tires as well as my driving improving. After the next two qualifying runs my results were 12th and 13th. At the end of the day I had gained on the leaders, but the grid became really close. I was only .459 tenths off the pole which gave me a starting position right outside the top ten.
I had a decent start in race one, and was able to get my nose inside Richard Plant going into Turn One. However, I was pinched down to the curb and had to check up which caused me to lose positions. In the end I worked my way back to 12th. I fell back a few positions at the start of race two, as I am still coming to grips with the standing starts. Working my way back to the top 10, I found myself behind series front runner Luciano Bacheta. However, pushing hard as the laps ran down, I locked a front tire going into Turn Two which leads to the longest straight on the track. I lost a few car lengths and finished race two in eighth. In catching Bacheta I was able to record the fourth fastest race lap which was a great improvement in my overall speed. I was happy with this performance from race 2 as we headed into the final round. Again, in race three, I lost many positions on the start. Aggressive driving here in the UK makes for interesting driving and overtaking. In race three most of my passes were on the outside as other drivers defended their position. Again, my battle was with Luciano, but got the job done to finish eighth again in the final tally. The key was saving the over boost for the end of the race to make a move. My race lap times were consistently competitive during the three races today which showed that I was coming to grips with the overall package.
This has been a great experience overall. Learning to drive in the wet, stiff competition over the entire field and standing starts are all new tools that I will bring back to the States. I have to thank everybody that has been a part of the Team USA Scholarship this year for their continued support.