Posted on Apr 28th, 2015
Twenty-four hours have passed since we won the prestigious Britcar 24 Hours race at Silverstone on Sunday and I still can’t quite believe it. Twenty-four hours of real life, back at school, flies by, whereas a twenty-four race contains more racing time than a single season put together!
Only ten days ago, I received a call up to join my Beechdean Aston Martin Racing team in the Silverstone 24 Hours because they needed another known driver. I was obviously really keen because it’s such good experience for the future and also such good value seat time. With little time to prepare, other than try to get some sleep in and get ahead in my revision, I found myself at Silverstone a few days later ready for my first ever endurance race.
Of course, I know the team and car well as I am racing for them in the British GT series and it is always a pleasure to spend time in my lovely Aston Martin V8 Vantage racing car. The challenges of a twenty-four hour race are different though and we spent a lot of time before the race talking through scenarios and working out how best to deal with them. The team are fantastic and I didn’t for one second question whether or not we would be there at the end – if we had a clean run, we had a serious chance at overall honours.
Conditions for the race were pretty tricky with very heavy rain and we had the added excitement of racing against a ‘works’ Aston Martin, being run for the boss himself, Dr Andy Palmer, in one of his first ever races. Another challenge was the speed differential with everything from the brand new Ginetta LMP3 Le Mans racing car which included Olympian Sir Chris Hoy in the line-up to diesel Golfs driven by racing grandfathers!
As it was, it went really well. The car needed no attention at all and didn’t have a mark on it after twenty-four hours’ hard racing. We kept going round and round and when the Ginetta hit trouble on Sunday morning, we found ourselves in the lead by seven laps. I got over five hours’ seat time in the car and did three stints that were exactly in line with the pace that the team wanted from me to stay on strategy, so I was pretty happy with my own performance too.
Needless to say, the team were ecstatic at the end and rightly so – it was very cool for them and apparently I was not only the youngest person in the race but also the first female driver to ever win it. Amazing!
Of course, it’s not Le Mans but that’s not the point. Like any up and coming driver, it’s my aim to get as far as I can and Le Mans is the pinnacle of world endurance racing, no question. To turn up at short notice and win outright as part of a team at my first attempt was an incredible feeling. I’d like to thank all the guys in the team for being so cool and professional in pretty demanding conditions and to Andrew Howard (the team boss) for asking me to drive.
I was pretty confident after coming second on the road twice at the opening round of the British GT season at Oulton Park and now I’m even more certain that I’m driving the little Aston Martin V8 Vantage well. And my team mate down the road (Aston Martin CEO, Dr Andy Palmer) acquitted himself brilliantly, finishing a just a few places behind us.
For now, it’s back to school, to exams and then Rockingham at the end of the week – what a crazy twenty-four hours!