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2017: An amazing season, a new beginning

Anyone who knows me well will tell you that I don’t sit still for 5 minutes, I don’t watch television, and I’m always working on something. Perhaps it explains how 2017 has been quite so non stop, if anything it would have been plausible to think that running in a team this year would mean I could site back & relax a little this summer…

The truth is I’ve been on the go since March, and my season is running right up to November, the thought of Xmas approaching is already throwing me into mild panic…!

Looking back at how the year has gone, I’m satisfied with what I’ve learnt & achieved, CN2 was already a popular class in the CFM but in 2017 it’s expanded to see entries of over 25 cars at some rounds. I knew I could be quick in the car and with 2 seasons behind me I knew the courses fairly well too, so it felt like the culmination of a lot of hard work. To give you some idea of where the 2 litre cars fall in ranking, the overall top 10 (scratch as it’s referred to in France) is regularly made up of the two CN+ (4 litre) cars, an F3000 then CN3, CN2 & F3 in no certain order. Sometimes CN2 cars place as high as 5th on scratch… they are very capable & fast.

It’s also worth understanding the structure a little, as one of my high hopes was to try and win the Championne de France (Ladies Cup) but with so many cars in group I truly had a mountain to climb here. CN (prototypes) form the group that I’m in, so CN+, CN3 & CN2 make up the group. Scoring  points was tough, indeed St. Gouëno was the only round where I placed 10th in group, which was good going but then I love the wet!

2017 Race Season ReviewA quick look back at 2017 – how it went (v well!), what I wanted to achieve & what I learnt.

Posted by Charlie Martin on Saturday, October 28, 2017


Nonetheless, finishing fastest lady at 4 rounds was by far my best result in the CFM to date, and no small feet ahead of my incredibly quick (2017 Championne) teammate Sarah Louvet and reigning Championne Martine Hubert in a big CN3 car. The battle between the three of us was always hard fought, at La Pommeraye Sarah & finished within 0.004 which is surely as close as it gets. I think my highlight was the win at Mont-Dore, a hill that I’ve always struggled to find a rhythm at, and also the French round of 2017 FIA European Hillclimb Championship. Interestingly this was the weekend after 4 days training at Formula Medecine in Italy where I worked a lot on reaction times, mental economy training & coordination, and without doubt I’ve never felt so instantly comfortable on this course.

I knew that I’d be hard pushed to match pace of established drivers like class winner Julien Français, Damien Chamberod & Yannick Latreille, there are some incredible drivers at this level, so finishing inside the top 10 at every round was solid achievement. The highest finish was a pair of 5ths, and three 7th places (I narrowly missed 6th at Limonest by 0.1 to finish 8th). 

Could I have done anything differently? I could have deployed the points system more effectively. I elected not to score at Col. St Pierre (9th & fastest lady) and likewise a few weeks later at Abreschviller (5th), and it cost me. Being as it was my first time at each venue I reasoned that I’d be quicker later in the season on courses I already knew.  This wasn’t the case, and I then dropped Beaujolais to visit Pikes Peak, and Turckheim as I was racing the in Celticspeed Mini Cooper Cup, so a 12th place finish in class could well have put me in the top 10 with a better strategy & planning.

Le Mans is fast approaching and thankfully Richardson Racing have kindly lent me their simulator for a few hours to cram in some time on the Bugatti Circuit. It’s not the first time I’ve used it and I’m hoping it will get me up to speed quickly for what is without doubt my biggest challenge yet in race car – 3hrs, driver changes, traffic, radio…

To be racing at this legendary venue, over 15 years since I first came as a spectator with no idea of how I might even get into racing, is a big moment for me.

Charlie MartinSo much has happened to get to this point, since first starting my GoCharlie blog in late 2014, and it feels like the right time to move discipline. I’ll always love hillclimb for it’s simple purity, the beauty of driving an unsilenced circuit car flat-out through the countryside (surely the closest we’ll ever get to a modern day Targa Florio), but circuit racing has always been the dream. I have a good idea what next season will look like, and hope to bring you all some exciting news soon, but it’s highly unlikely there will be any hills to climb in 2018.

There’s still Pikes Peak of course, but I think that mountain will have to wait a little longer, I guess it’s not going anywhere…



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