Barcelona, more a sense of relief than euphoria

Posted on: 15th Oct 2009

They tell me raceday in Barcelona was very exciting. I can believe that! There was a lot of pressure on Bonhomme to win the championship and he very nearly blew it in the T12 race to be 7th of the 8 through to the next round. So many pundits were saying it was his championship to lose and perhaps that’s true but the fact is, come raceday, he was not in the fastest machine. Arch had the machinery and there were sufficient others fast enough to get between Paul and Hannes. Had Paul not made the Super 8 it would have been an easy mistake which many have made ... too aggressive can very easily cost you a 2 secs penalty (you’re out) and slightly cautious can become 1.5 secs too slack and you’ve left enough of a gap for others to slip in. Remember, this is a three-dimensional track with an invisible race line. It’s very easy to be slightly off the line, losing fractions all the way around.Paul did well. Despite the pressure, he kept his composure all week; an extremely penalty ridden week. I believe this easy track posted the most pylon hits of the entire season. Paul did make the Super 8 ... just. Then by avoiding penalties, he won it. I was second, also because of no penalties. I guess by then Paul knew the tables had reversed and it was Hannes’ to lose. A cool head and no penalties in the Final brought him the race victory and with it the Championship. No-one deserved it more; a very popular win indeed.My second place on the podium brought more a sense of relief than euphoria. I think I must have confused a lot of people this year, most of all myself; promising start, progressive decline and then one good result. Not exactly what was planned and I have a lot of work to do to avoid a repeat next year. I am certain that we lacked pace in some of the middle races but by cutting the margins too tight, I made far too many mistakes. The guys in Barcelona with the fastest machines will be aware that this was their downfall in the final race. What I am satisfied with was the strategy of going for a win / the podium whenever there was the chance rather than preserving points. For sure, one wants to avoid the bottom half but there is no real difference between 4th, 5th, 6th, 7th, 8th places; it’s far better to ‘go for it’. As it turns out, a ‘preserving points’ strategy may have had me on the podium for the championship but that’s easy to say now.The winter months will be another frantic race to do whatever we can to arrive in Abu Dhabi with a competitive aircraft and pilot. Race history shows that if you stand still even for a short while, you go backwards. This sport has become so competitive, it’s very hard to stay in touch never mind getting ahead. We have a lot of plans . . power and aerodynamics without any increase in weight. The technical regulations on engines will be finalised by the end of October and then the race is on for the best engine performance. Meanwhile, we are taking a family holiday to go game viewing in South Africa. Thinking of all the medical checks I have to do just after we get back, I mentioned to TC Becs that I’m not sure how easy it’ll be to go jogging in a game reserve; big chance of becoming a lion snack. She replied ‘Never mind, I’m sure the lions will make you run really fast and if not you wont have to worry about the medicals!’ I’m a race pilot Becs, not a runner!