British Touring Car Championship driver, Stephen, heads to the challenging Knockhill circuit in Fife

British Touring Car Championship driver, Stephen, heads to the challenging Knockhill circuit in Fife

The mid-season summer holiday did exactly what it’s supposed to do. It’s given me a break, given me a chance to reset. I went to Spain and spent some time with the family and was just able to get the bug back.

Sometimes you go through a phase in the season of racing every other week and it just seems a constant. The energy level required on a race weekend wipes you out. The focus is so intense, the requirement to get the level of performance out of yourself and the car, that by Monday morning you’re toast, and that sort of fatigue builds up on you.

So, the break in the middle of the season’s quite good really just to let yourself reset and go again. Then you get the sort of feeling you’re really wanting to get back to it, and that’s the perfect situation to be in. You never want to be thinking, ‘well, we’ve got another race weekend and I’m still not I’m not ready to go’. So, it’s been good. I did a bit of fitness work in the heat, because you can’t do as much fitness work when you’re in those sort of two week cycles of racing, because you’re constantly trying to recover and not be fatigued for the next one. I think I’m in the best possible shape for the second half of the season. Mentally it was also good to get into a different routine and switch the mind off, which I really found the benefit of when I got back.

We had the tyre test at Snetterton in the middle of July which went well. We went through a test programme and tried things that we wouldn’t normally try on a race weekend. On a race weekend you’re very time limited in the free practice sessions; you don’t get to make big changes. So, it was a chance to experiment, and we found some useful information. It was very hot and that sort of messes with the times a little bit, but it was a productive two days.

Knockhill was an okay weekend. The points have been quite good, but I think we could have got more because it seems that we’ve had a car advantage and I feel that I haven’t quite maximised things. In qualifying, we were shooting for pole but it’s always a bit of a messy session and there were a lot of red flags. I was pushing the envelope as much as I dared, and my last lap of the session was my quickest, but I lost a tenth at the hairpin and that could have put me on the front row. It’s very frustrating.

Race one was good, it was a bit of a lonely race, but we scored a good fourth place and it put us in a good place for the second race. Race two was going okay, but I locked the rears into Clark, and I went through the gravel trap. The car is so on edge through there, that any little nick through the drivetrain causes an imbalance and just kicks the car into oversteer, so that’s what’s caused me to run wide and drop down. Unfortunately, I lost three places because of it.

There was a bit of carnage in race three. I picked up a place, but my hybrid system died so I was a bit of a sitting duck. The temperature came back down in the last two laps, and I was able to use it and catch back up but it was too late by then.

We had three strong point scoring finishes, and whilst it would have been great to be on the podium, we’ve moved up to tenth in the championship, and we’ve scored more than other crews in the Teams’ Championship. Team BMW will be moving up towards the top of that, so it was a positive weekend for me and the team.

After the huge intensity of Knockhill race weekend, I decided to do a 2km freshwater swim at Ullswater Lake. I do a few triathlons and I was driving by on my way home, so 9:15 on Monday morning, there I was. I thought it would be hard work, but it was quite a refreshing thing to do. The scenery was stunning, and the water was so pure and clear. It’s just a nice thing to do and a very good way to switch off after a race weekend. It was absolutely mega!

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