Spencer Pigot's Team USA Scholarship blog: Silverstone
Bad start, weird start – and then a good start!
We started testing on Thursday for this weekend's Walter Hayes Trophy event at Silverstone. Most of the time the weather has been very normal for England at this time of year – wet and cold! On Thursday, I went out for the first session and after just a few laps the engine started to lose power and we couldn't figure out the problem so we decided to change engines. That took a while and caused me to miss the next session as well. Overall it wasn't a great start to the weekend because we didn't get much track time in the dry to work on the setup or for me to work out my lines.
Friday was much better; although it was wet, I got quite a lot of seat time and we were able to find a really good setup for the rain and I was the fastest in my group.
On Saturday, we had qualifying and a heat race. There was six separate sessions for both the qualifying and heat race because there are over 120 entries! I was in the first group and at the time of my qualifying session, the track still hadn't dried from all of the Friday rain, so it was very tricky to find the grip! There was a red flag a few minutes from the end, and when we got going again, we only had enough time for two laps. My first lap I braked a bit too deep going into Luffield and went off the track which ruined that lap so I was only left with one lap to get pole. I improved my time by almost a second but the track was getting better all the time and I was just beaten on the last lap by a few tenths. I was really hoping for pole but still, at least we were on the front row.
The heat race got off to a weird start. We have always been told that races are started with lights, like they were at Brands Hatch: when they all go out, the race begins. But when I was sitting on the grid at Silverstone waiting for them to come on a guy raised a British flag…and I wasn't quite sure what was happening! However, I remember seeing the start of old races done with the national flag so when he dropped it, I went, not knowing if it was the right thing to do! Thankfully, it was. (Later I found out that there had been a problem with the lights which is why they weren't used).
I got a really good start and was able to take the lead by the first corner. The race was like the Skip Barber Nationals – five cars all nose-to-tail. One lap I was leading the next I was third, all down to the draft. I fought my way up to second again but by that time the leader had already pulled out a small gap. I stayed in second for the rest of the race. My times were right on his pace but I still felt we could find more from the car. So Cliff Dempsey Racing is changing my engine tonight to a freshly rebuilt one, and making other changes to the car; hopefully that will find us a few more tenths.
On Sunday, we have a semifinal and final. With the changes we're making, I'm very confident of a strong result and continuing the Team USA Scholarship winning streak!