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Welcome to the first blog on my website!

Thursday 1st March 2012

I have had a busy winter season with the main focus on preparing for the 2012 Blancpain Endurance Series. The bulk of it was karting, and in December and January I took part in 3 kart races, my first for 5 years! I had definitely forgotten how hard it was, both mentally and physically, which made it an ideal way to combine a bit of fitness training as well as keeping me sharp for racing. 2 top 10 results in Rotax Max on a grid of over 20 each time wasn't too bad I thought! The 3rd race was ruined by the snow unfortunately. I intend to keep the karting going throughout my racing season, most likely just doing test days as I believe it is a great addition to my fitness programme, and its fun too!

January also saw my first car race of the season, as I flew to Dubai with United Autosports for the Dubai 24 hours. It was my first racing trip outside Europe, and a perfect way to blow the winter cobwebs off too, so I was looking forward to it! Racing in the desert brought its challenges, the temperature hit 30 Celsius on the day of the race (in the middle of their winter!) and there was a constant battle with grip levels due to the amount of sand on the circuit. This was made worse by a low flying helicopter at turn 1 filming the start of the race; I'm sure he got a great shot but none of the drivers were particularly grateful for the dust storm it caused! Unfortunately the race didn't go well for us, electrical gremlins hit us at every pit stop for the first 10 hours or so, meaning the car struggled to start on several occasions. Combined with some damage sustained during one of my co drivers stints, we spent over 3 hours longer in the pits than the eventual winners, but we were fast and I spent a stint battling with Bernd schnieder, something you don't get to do very often!

The event organisers employed an unusual method of balancing the cars; a table of lap times with corresponding balance of performance penalties meant the quicker you went in qualifying, the more weight you got and fuel capacity was lowered. Furthermore, you weren't allowed to go faster than your quali time in the race. This meant that almost every car on the grid chose a lap time considerably slower than their potential, us included, and the race was more about consistency and reliability than outright speed. Perhaps not the most challenging race for a pro driver, but 74 cars on the grid did make it more difficult to get down to your goal time every lap in the race.

Would I do it again? Yes! It may not be the most challenging 24 hour race but I had a great experience running with my team mates Roger Wills, Mark Patterson and Frank Yu, and I hope to be back there next year fighting for the win.

Onto fitness, and I got an entry to this years Great North Run on September 16th, which I will be running on behalf of the Great North Air Ambulance. An event in my home town I have always wanted to take part in. Updates will be coming throughout the year on my progress in training, 21km seemed relatively easy when I was filling out the form, but my first 8km training run brought things into perspective! More work required!

Finally I got the chance to rub shoulders with some of motorsport's most famous names at the United Autosports 2012 team launch last night! Guests included Ron Dennis and Bernie Ecclestone, as well as my team mates Zak Brown, David Brabham, Alvaro Parente and Mark Blundell. Unfortunately Mark Patterson couldn't attend after taking ill, so get well soon Mark!

All in all it was a very enjoyable evening, and a great way to start our 2012 campaign. Pre-season testing starts next week which I will cover in my next blog, and my first race is in April, so not long now!

 

Matt

 

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