Riddle me this: what’s first in Mexico and pretty in pink?
Before we went to Mexico City for the World Endurance Championship round I was excited to go to a new location (for me) for the first time and happy to see the WEC growing and establishing itself as one of the best series in the world. By the time we left Mexico I was even happier as we had the best possible result there.
The Autodromo Hermanos Rodriguez was a nice surprise. Being a new Grand Prix track I wasn’t sure what to expect, but the actual layout was good fun. It was quite tight and twisty but in the middle sector especially it was hard to deal with slower traffic.
We were surprised with our performance because the Aston Martin is always run in fairly low-downforce configuration. Maybe with the altitude of Mexico City we lost less than some of our competitor, who were running high downforce, and the net result was that we had a competitive car. We showed that in qualifying and then via our race pace in the dry conditions.
When the rain came – about halfway through the six-hour race – my co-driver Richie [Stanaway] did a great job staying out on slicks. At that point we were about 14 seconds down on the sister car, which was in the lead, but Richie reeled him in and passed him for the lead. After that we didn’t look back and went on to a very enjoyable first win of the WEC season. It has been hugely significant in terms of the championship positions so now with just four races to go it is very tight and we are right in the hunt.
I was lucky enough to get another opportunity to race at the Goodwood Revival this year. Away from my day job this is the highlight of the year for me. I love the whole event and relish driving the old cars; it really is an amazing experience from the moment you turn up until the moment you leave.
As I walked through the gates on Friday morning I got a phone call to ask if I would be interested in driving a Ford GT40 in the Whitsun Trophy. At that point it was a glorious day, so I thoroughly enjoyed driving the car in qualifying on Friday, getting used to it and getting faster with every lap. Come Saturday’s race it was pouring with rain and I remember sitting on the grid surrounded by other GT40s, thinking “I’ve never taken a race start in this car, it is tipping with rain and
I have no idea why I am here!”
It was a pretty scary 20 minutes and I was relieved to finish in one piece.
My regular ride at the Revival is an AC Cobra, sharing with Rory Henderson in the main TT event. We qualified well for Sunday’s race, sixth on the grid and close to pole in terms of lap time. Unfortunately Rory didn’t have a great start, but the main thing was that the car didn’t get hit – unlike several others. There was a safety car later on, which bunched everyone up again so when I got in I was able to get back up to 11th. Overall it was a pleasing result and, as ever, it was a real pleasure to drive the Cobra.
I was down to race in the St Mary’s Trophy in ‘Floyd’, a cupcake-pink Austin A35 with Holly Mason-Franchitti. I wasn’t able to complete a lap in qualifying due to a small technical problem, so I had to start from the back of the grid for Saturday’s race in the rain.
I made up about 14 places on the first lap, but then couldn’t get any further and I finished 17th. Holly did a great job on Sunday when the owners drive the cars and our aggregate for the weekend was 12th, which was better than either of us expected. Great fun and we became a bit of a crowd favourite in our little pink machine.
The ball on Saturday night was just magical, too. The theme was 1960s comic book superheroes and villains so I got to dress up in lycra for the first time – which I found strangely comfortable – and I went as the Riddler from Batman. Everyone made a big effort. Lord March was an outstanding and rather sinister Joker, and looked like he had just stepped off a film set – the perfect ringmaster for another spectacular Revival.