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Silverstone: Pride in Motorsport

I’m currently sat writing my blog whilst looking out of an aeroplane window, not that there’s anything particularly remarkable about that fact, but it honestly feels like the first time I’ve really had to sit and pause for thought in the last seven days.

So much was crammed into last week that at times I struggled to keep up, and at the very least it might explain my headspace coming into Silverstone. It might sound like I’m being negative, but that couldn’t be further from the truth, perhaps I just feel mentally exhausted.

The feeling I’m taking with me is one of incredible positivity, because something completely unique took place at the home of British motorsport this June.

But first I’d like to wind back and set the scene as it may help explain some of the pressure. Following the crash at Thruxton the car had to be entirely rebuilt onto a new chassis, with the mechanics at Richardon Racing working round the clock to get it completed and finished in time for round 4. With such a tight turnaround it was impossible to fit any testing in, which meant other than 20 mins qualifying and a 25 minute race at the last round, I’d not driven the GT5 for 6 weeks…

A 2 day trip to Ireland with work meant I had a 2hr sim session to fall back on last week, but other than that it was straight into Friday practice having last driven here inΒ  March. With a grid bolstered by the (slower) G40 Cup, there were around 60 cars out on Silverstone’s GP circuit, that’s a lot of traffic to contend with!

Now you may not be aware, but June is Pride month, a worldwide celebration of love, diversity, acceptance & self-pride. Anyone who knows me and is familiar with my personal story will no doubt understand why this is a relevant to me, but it’s important to point out that Pride is not exclusively for the LGBT community, it’s an opportunity for the whole of society at large to show it’s support as allies, and in doing so help to create an inclusive environment where anyone feels free to live as their true self and live a happy life without fear of discrimination.

These are pretty much the exact words I found myself saying at the driver’s briefing for the British GT Championship early on Saturday morning, after SRO kindly invited me to speak having approached them mid week.

I’ll be honest in saying that standing in front of professional drivers, some of them World champions who will be competing at Le Mans next weekend, was pretty nerve wracking. Breaking new ground is nothing new to me, and if it meant a few puzzled looks it’s something I was prepared to deal with.

The idea was very simple, ask everyone to run a vinyl Pride sticker on their car in support.

As it was I got a round of applause, and the vast majority of teams and drivers picked up one of the stickers I was handing out as they left the briefing. In fact they found their way onto the safety car, the course car, and pretty much anything else with wheels that weekend. After repeating the process at the Ginetta briefing, I’d given out all 130 stickers – I’d worried if I’d be left with a stack of them but I wish I’d printed more!

With all the effort that went into preparing for the weekend, the rushing and mounting stress levels, it’s perhaps not so surprising that I struggled to repeat a podium finish at Silverstone. We shook the car down in Friday practice but I was struggling to match my times from testing, this continued into qualifying after which was found that I hadn’t been getting full throttle… over a 2:30 lap that’s a killer.

Launching off the back row I made some good progress and instantly picked up my lap times, but a couple of spins into Brooklands cost me, and I finished down in P29.

To add to my frustration I was docked 10 points by the clerk of the course for rubbing door handles on lap 1. Mallet was rejoining the track after running wide at Copse, and totally hidden in my blind spot… needless to say I thought it was a harsh decision.

Starting higher up in race 2, I was fighting my way through on lap 1 before spinning at the Loop after Village. The track was so rubbered in after 3hrs of British GT cars in blistering sunshine that it was almost glassy in places, it took me by surprise and the car was facing backwards before I knew it. With cars passing me either side, I had to wait for what felt like forever before I could turn round & rejoin, I drove round chasing the back of the field to come home in P23.

PRIDE month comes to Silverstone for the British GT ChampionshipHUGE THANK YOU & CONGRATULATIONS TO FOX MOTORSPORT – YOU GUYS ROCK!! ???????????????????? #thankyou #pridemonth #pride2018

Posted by Charlie Martin on Saturday, June 9, 2018

I was feeling low, I’d hoped to continue the strong performance from Thruxton and but I just never felt fully in tune with car on the GP circuit, despite trying hard… I wish I’d had the chance to test before the race as this could have made all the difference.

But the truth was that despite not being on the podium, the weekend had been a huge success – and a first in motorsport history.

Pride silverstone 1Never before has a race weekend seen cars from all classes running rainbow stickers in support of Pride, and for that fact alone I was truly grateful. I feel like we allΒ helped to achieve something amazing – SRO, Ginetta, the drivers, the teams, the marshalls & all the organisation at Silverstone have shown just how inclusive motorsport community can be.

Photos: Marc Waller & Jakob Ebrey

Links –

Motorsport Magazine

Jalopnik

Sky Sports

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