Strong Pace and Consistency in the Season Opener at Donington Park
5th August 2020
A fantastic start to the opening weekend of the MINI Challenge at Ryan's home circuit, Donington Park. This being Ryan's first ever race meeting on the TOCA package, supporting the British Touring Car Championship, live on ITV4 and in the John Cooper Works MINI. This was very much about gaining experience and learning the car whilst competing with some of the best drivers in the country. Ryan registered three strong finishes consistently getting quicker throughout the weekend which included P2 in the rookie Championship in race 3. His pace was also less than a second off the front runners, so another positive.
The start to qualifying was less than ideal having cracked a brake disc in free practise 2 on Friday Ryan had to start by bedding new discs and pads for the first few laps. He then came in for new tyres and set about setting his quickest laps so far of the weekend. In an ultra-competitive qualifying session, coupled with a grid of 28 drivers brings its challenges. Ryan had to contend with several red flags during the 30 minutes session and was also on a quicker lap when the final red flag of the session game out. Nevertheless, a respectable time of 1:16:132 put him 25th, less than 2 seconds off pole. It was so close!
Ryan’s first ever start in a JCW MINI, and all things considered he got off the line well, with minimal wheel spin, although lost a place to Trotter which he quickly got back with a move at old hairpin. With Hardy spinning in front, Ryan had to take evasive action, causing a gap to develop ahead. By the end of lap 2 Ryan had caught up with the pack and took Hutchinson down into Redgate. As the race was settling down Ryan was putting in consistently quick laps. Making a move again into Redgate on Grittith on lap 7. A safety car on lap 11 allowed the whole pack to bunch up again and he passed Wilson & Hammerton in one move on the restart. Ryan's pass of the weekend for sure! There he stayed finishing a respectable 18th, gaining 7 places.
Again, a good start off the line, this time from the outside and gained two places into the first corner. However, lost out to Newham at Old Hairpin. A safety car was called on lap 2 due to the stranded Davidson who didn't get off the line. Bird on the grass on the restart, gifted Ryan a place and he set about chasing teammate Pearson. With the others on fresher tyres Ryan was unable to keep the on rushing Bird, then Davidson behind. Nevertheless, some great overtakes again and more experience in the seat. He also posted his fastest lap of the weekend, showing he's less than a second off the leader’s pace. A fantastic achievement for this first race weekend.
The final race of the weekend and in front of millions live on ITV4. Another good start and a place gained straight away from Smith coming out of Redgate. Then following Lockwoods off at Craner Curves, Ryan was up to 16th. The pace was intense from the offer as was to be expected. Fighting for position, while bumper to bumper. Now onto lap 7 and Ryan was struggling on older tyres with the car having a little push and hopping at various points. Unfortunately, Pearson retiring and Stanton struggling, Ryan made a further two places to finish P14 overall. A fantastic achievement for this first ever weekend and taking P2 Rookie Honours in the final race weekend too!
We spoke to Ryan for his thoughts come Sunday afternoon "What a weekend, to come away with three strong finishes is a dream. The aim was to bring the car back as it left the awning Friday morning, we did that and more. I still need to find a little more pace but being less than a second of the front runners, I'll take that. I would say this time is in both myself and a few tweaks to the car’s setup. I'm also over the moon with taking P2 in the rookie class in race 3. I'm still buzzing from the whole weekends experience to be fair. A huge shout out goes to all my sponsors & Team #13 members for getting me on the grid. Along with my dad & Richard Dawson for being top mechanics this weekend. The car ran faultlessly! I’m know looking forward to carrying this momentum as we travel to Scotland at the end August."