Jake Craig: Calm Before the Storm

Written by Team USA. Posted in Driver Blogs, Feature, Jake Craig

Published on October 19, 2018 with No Comments

With Michelle and her Bingo Bus.

BRANDS HATCH, England – Tuesday we were off to Brands Hatch with Michelle Dempsey, although before we started our trek to the track Colin and I got some much needed Starbucks! It was about a two-and-a-half-hour drive to the track in the team’s Sprinter Van (AKA: Michelle’s bingo bus).

When we first arrived in the paddock I wasn’t expecting the track to have as much elevation as it did – the videos didn’t do any justice for it! After walking around the paddock for a bit my Canadian family arrived: Brian and Kelly Graham! I’ve been racing for them in this year’s Toyo Tires Canadian F1600 Series, so it was great to catch up with them again. They’re here because they’re running a Canadian Scholarship driver, Guillaume Archembault, also under the Cliff Dempsey banner. After catching up with them Colin and I headed to our hotel to get checked in. We’re staying at the Mercure Hotel which is conveniently located right next to the track.

First thing on our agenda Wednesday morning was a debrief with our coach James Theodore. We went over onboard video from previous years to learn the gears and a few braking references on the track. I had a little heads up on this track, because I was able to do a training session with Kelly Jones from RaceCratf1 back on the sim at home. Kelly’s training really helped me feel prepared before I had my first session on track.

Practice one went really well, Colin and I both had great pace. Corner one (Paddock Hill Bend) took a few laps to get down, because of the big elevation drop. the “S” section (Surtees) at the end of the track took me a few laps to find a good rhythm as well.

My chief mechanic Dave Hart prepping the car for testing.

After practice one, clouds started to roll in and then it quickly turned into a wet track. The conditions were very difficult, because there was a heavy mist for the remainder of the day. It made the track feel very greasy so the cars were moving around quite a bit. I had decent pace in the next two practice sessions, although towards the end of session three I was a little too late on the brakes into corner one and ended up in the gravel trap, but hey, you need to test the limits! Unfortunately, that ended my day a bit early, because the team had a lot of gravel to clean out of the car before I could get back on track. It was nice to watch practice four from the stands; I felt like I learned a lot watching from a different perspective. After we concluded at the track we had a nice dinner back at the hotel with Team Canada.

The view from Paddock Hill Bend to Druid’s hairpin.

Finally, the sun! It was nice walking out of the hotel this morning and seeing the sun out. I was excited to get more laps on the track in the dry. Practice one went really well, I was right on pace. In practice two the track conditions changed and I began to struggle with the balance of the car. In session three I struggled with the balance as well. After going over data before session four I had a good idea of what I needed to work on with my driving to help get the balance better. I felt I definitely made a gain in the last practice which I’m happy about.

After our practice concluded myself and my teammates went over data and onboard video extensively with James. I have a good idea of what I need to work on going into tomorrow. I’m excited to get back on track in the morning and keep grinding some time away!

As always, thank you to the Team USA Scholarship for making this all possible and the entire Cliff Dempsey Racing Team.

Thanks for reading,
Jake

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