Back to the race track, finally.
Yesterday was the Renault UK Clio Cup media day, and my first day at a race track since I went to watch the Rockingham round of the British Touring Car Championship, so it was fitting the day would be held at the same windy track.
I don’t actually remember much from last year’s media day. The only reason I know it was cold is because it was in March and held in the UK. That and the photos I have from it include me in a woolly hat (which has since been misplaced…). But the last time I was at Rockingham the weather was awful. Torrential rain, tornados, gale force winds. And this was supposed to be the summer.
Thankfully, the weather was just a tad better yesterday than it had been back in the summer, but it was still very cold and very windy. This didn’t really have much of an impact on the day for me (besides muttering about how cold it was every five seconds), but it’s worth mentioning.
The day started at about four in the morning. Some things never change. After a nice walk in what was basically the middle of the night, two trains, and a taxi ride, I arrived at Rockingham at about half nine, just as the interviews were finishing up and the media officer was trying to explain the procedure for the grid photos.
Last year, they somehow managed to get me into one of those cars. I was not making the same mistake this year. So no, there are no photos of me in an oversized race helmet. Sorry. I’d had a cream egg and a twix for breakfast and I didn’t want to see them again any time soon…
There were a couple of people I wanted to speak to, including Mike Bushell. Mike is an incredible driver who’s funding just didn’t seem to be there for the BTCC. With so many Clio drivers taking the step up to the BTCC this year, I wanted to get his thoughts on that.
I did, but it quickly became clear that the real story yesterday was the tyres.
Maybe this is something inherited from my father (he’s a tyre fitter), but I suddenly became very interested in the new Michelin tyres. In the press releases, a few drivers had mentioned them, so one of my standard questions for every driver was “how are the tyres”. I wasn’t really expecting much, it was more for my own understanding, but it turned out there was clearly something interesting going on here.
The new tyres will go faster and last longer, according to one of the drivers I spoke to, but they might also cause some problems. It seemed like quite a few of the drivers were concerned about them and how much they were still learning with the first race only two weeks away.
It wasn’t the story that I went to the media day to get, but it’s one I’m quite proud of.
There were other stories, of course, and there are more articles to be written but, with the train journey home so crowded and me being exhausted by the time I got home, they’ve yet to be written up.
Yesterday’s 4 am alarm was just the start of a long list of them, it seems, with the Australian GP coming up next weekend. Whilst I am looking forward to the start of the new F1 season, I am not looking forward to waking up that early for it. It is going to be a long season…