The first race of the season, first time at Col St. Pierre & first drive in the Norma with Schatz Competition, this weekend was full of new challenges. I’d prepared more throughly than ever, having spent two days over Easter driving the course with my friend & team mate Sarah Louvet who helped show me the right line and markers to look out for. 2017 is my first full year running with a team and I’ve got a clear set of objectives being as I can now focus purely on my driving and get the full benefit of the driver coaching throughout the season.
Col St. Pierre is widely acknowledged as the hardest course to learn in the Championnat de France de la Montagne, so I really needed to start on the right foot, and that meant knowing the whole 5km inside out & backwards before I got in the car and started driving at race pace. Nudging 600Bhp/ton, the Norma M20FC is surprisingly easy to drive (paddle shift is your best friend on a hillclimb), my main concern was that everything would happen too quickly and I’d loose track of the mental pace notes |’d learnt to recite in my head.
Thankfully everything went well, and in between 1st and 2nd practice I took 9 secs off my initial time to place well in class.
Sunday morning presented the best conditions before the sun got too high in the sky, and I took another 3 secs off to move into the lead as fastest lady. I was pushing bit by bit, the car stepped out coming through a mid corner compression but it didn’t cause too much drama!
This weekend was about getting everything right and being realistic, so to finish ahead of a few 3 litre cars and 9th in a class of 24 was a solid start, taking fastest lady against some very fast drivers was also a huge boost to my confidence and I can’t wait to get back in the car next weekend at Abreschviller. It’s the only other course on my calendar that I’ve not driven, but at 2km it should be relatively easy to learn – the challenge here with be the speed as it’s an extremely fast hill. Hopefully it won’t snow like last year, as that would be another first.