Heard Ollie was doing 2m00s as part of a race stint so I was hoping for just a podium. Pleasantly surprised to get very close to the sub 2min lap but made a couple of mistakes during the Quali run. 3rd.
Made an okay start and saw the remnants of the start crash. Reminded me to take it easy at the start and slotted next to James but I couldn't get enough tow from Ollie. He went wide at the first corner which allowed me and James to keep the inside nice and tight for 1st and 2nd. Glad no one out braked themselves into turn 1 from the group I was in, I'm always expecting a hit from behind.
Was running close to James initially, my tyres seem to come on quicker than the other guys, so the 3rd lap James pulled a little gap to which I responded, he then went wide later around the lap or the next one but unfortunately couldn't keep Ollie behind. At this point I was expecting Ollie to catch me pretty quickly but I was managing the pace well with laps in the 2m01s and pulled the gap out to just a little over two seconds.
By lap 13/14 the tyres were really starting to struggle and I needed to find a rhythm to keep them going whilst keeping the pace up, Ollie had brought the gap down to a second by now and was in hunting mode. I was hoping he may of tried to pit early and possibly go on a three stop, but he knows what he's doing. So that decided my strategy for me, I had to make a 2 stop work. Pitted on lap 20 together. Where he had a better stop and came out with a 3/4 second lead.
Over the next couple of laps I brought it down below 2 seconds but I couldn't get much closer and thought I was eating the tyres too quickly so I went into 'late stint' mode to try and look after them. Only problem was Ollie was in front so I couldn't hold him back as I had in the previous stint. The gap had risen and steadied at 8 seconds around three quarters through the stint, this is when Ollie made a mistake at the final corner bringing the gap down to 4 seconds, he then made another slight error at the first corner of lap 38 and I was able to pounce on that one and take the lead again. Ollie then pitted at the end of the lap.
I knew I had to go longer as I was still doing decent times and I wanted to prolong the last stop in any case. Think I have up the stint on lap 41, the previous three tours I was doing calculations. How many laps will it be? How much fuel will I have left when I pit? So how much will I really need to put in? Complete mindfuck doing that, changing the pit preset and trying not to lose too much time to Ollie on fresher tyres.
I came out a little closer than I was before he went in, around 2 seconds so I knew I could get close in the next couple of laps, as I closed a similar gap previously. This is the part I don't remember too much of, too much concentration and adrenaline I suppose. I do remember we were close on a couple of occasions, most notably just after the second sector split. I got a nose ahead and left space for Ollie on the inside, thought I could make it stick around the outside of the fast left hander but we made a little contact and I was into the gravel momentarily.
I was really enjoying the chase. I could see he would let the car slide a little into the hairpins so i was hoping for an easy pass if it went wrong for him again, wasn't going to happen that way though. I was able to get a run on him using the tow to keep close at the final hairpin, so I took it easy around the final turn of lap 50(?) and really nailed the exit onto the main straight. I was indecisive of which way to go, and then I made my mind up. Providing Ollie stayed to the middle, I was going to position my car slightly the left of his, creating a dummy dummy. Was I going to go on the inside? Or sling it around the outside? With Ollie still coming to the left slightly for the racing line, I switched to the inside as late as I felt I could without being too aggressive.
I had to properly slam down though the gears and I was comfortable going down to first for the slower corners, this allowed me to make it stick. Normally if I'd gone down into second, the back end would slide a little and I couldn't get on the power as quickly, so found going to first would actually be better and stabilise the car more. I then covered the inside for turn 2. From there I tried to bolt it but keeping the first stint in mind. Managed a small gap of around 2 seconds and Ollie (obviously) caught me a little in the closing stages. 1st.
Last night was an absolutely belter of a 2 hour race. Separated by no more than 8 seconds at any one point, and an average of probably no more than 2. I've never been so on edge for that amount of time, so thanks to Ollie for that. A shame that James had his mishaps, as I knew he was slightly faster than me from testing. Also a fantastically well done to Campbell. An added thanks to everyone, making it enjoyable to race around with the chat and what not.
*It's a hollow victory though, as Kimster would of inevitably won.
EDIT: Keeping my run of winning in every season I've participated in. Happy.