I got back home on a Tuesday night and had to leave Thursday morning for my next Firestone Indy Lights race in Trois-Rivieres, Quebec. I was really looking forward to jumping back in the Lights car but wasn't sure how it would feel after three months away in the GP3 cars. It actually felt pretty good!
The major difference is the brakes. The brakes on the Lights car just have no feel and it's difficult to find the limit in the brake zones.
Even though it was difficult to get used to the brakes again, I was never out of the top three in practice and seemed to be able to get on the pace quite quickly. Qualifying was incredibly intense because my teammates were very quick and I knew it was going to be a shootout between Josef Newgarden, Esteban Guerrieri and I.
Qualifying was split up into two parts: the first 30 minutes was to determine the fast top six and the second part was a 10-minute shootout between the top six. I was quickest in the first 30 minutes and was ready for the final shootout. Qualifying at Trois-Rivieres was one of the most intense qualifying sessions I've ever done. It took a higher level of concentration and commitment than I've ever experienced before.
I had never been closer to the walls or had ever pushed that hard as I did in the final 10 minutes. It came down to myself and Esteban and he got the pole by about 0.04sec. It was incredibly close but I just missed out on the perfect lap. I talked to Esteban after qualifying and we agreed that this track required an incredible amount of dedication and perfection to be going as fast as possible on the limit.
It was great to work with my engineer Chris Finch again because he always makes the right changes for what I need from the car. It seems like every session we make the car better and I was ready for the race. I spent the race glued to Esteban's gearbox because it was almost impossible to pass but I was making some adjustments in the cockpit to help me get closer to Esteban to try and take advantage of a small mistake (RIGHT).
After 40 laps it looked like some rain was coming. Around five laps later the rain started coming down lightly. Esteban went slightly wide in Turn 2 and I passed him heading down to the "Arch" Turn 3. When I exited the corner the full-course yellow was out. Unfortunately, the officials thought I passed Esteban after the yellow flags came out. I didn't see any yellow flags until after I made the pass but the officials didn't think that, so I had to give the position back. It's unfortunate but the decision was made and there was nothing I could do about it.
The rain came down harder while we were following the safety car and they red-flagged the race so we could all put on wet tires. The race would be restarted in full wet conditions. I went to try and pass Esteban at the restart in Turn 2 and it didn't work out well for me. I guess I applied the power a bit aggressively and before I knew it, I was spinning. I almost got away with a 360 but for once I couldn't get it under control and backed it into the wall. I can't even explain the level of frustration with myself because it was a big mistake. I won't blame that one on anyone but me.
Fortunately, I learned a lot from it and I will not make that mistake easily again. I love the event up in Trois-Rivieres, the city and the track are incredible – but I have been there the last three years and just can't seem to have a good race.
I was a bit depressed after the last two race weekends but it was time to head home for a bit of vacation. I couldn't wait to see my family and friends, catch up on some sleep and just chill out for once! I got to spend a couple days at Lake Dale Hollow with my family and get a good sunburn. I went to the Indiana State Fair to walk around and watch my brothers eat insane fried foods, too! I may or may not have tried some as well... It's always a fun experience at the state fair. I even went to an Indianapolis Indians baseball game! I'm not the biggest baseball fan but it was good fun going with some friends.
So, after a bit of time off and some good times with the family, I'm back in England now getting ready for the next GP3 race at Spa. My next few weeks are going to be quite interesting. Race at Spa then head back to race Firestone Indy Lights in Baltimore then straight back overseas to Italy for the final GP3 event of the season. Wish me luck! Mainly with my flights because if you know me, I'm usually associated with terrible travel luck and continuous flight delays!! Hah. Thanks for reading my friends and I'll hopefully be checking back in with some more improvements and good races to talk about.