Christie Doran’s positive start to the season in the VAG Trophy continued with an excellent weekend at the historic Brands Hatch circuit. Doran showed superb speed during the course of the meeting, coming within seconds of taking her first victory in the series during race two, before collecting her best point’s tally of the year in the final race of the weekend with a second place result and fastest lap to her name. Christie enjoyed some close battles in all three races and will be encouraged by her pace with the series returning to Brands Hatch in July where the drivers will tackle the Grand Prix layout.
After suffering from a couple of minor mechanical problems in testing on Friday, Christie was eager to set some good lap times in qualifying on Saturday morning. With several laps completed and the tyres warmed up, an unfortunate red flag brought the session to a halt with a lengthy clean-up process meaning the drivers would have just seven minutes to set a fast lap time. Doran did a great job to negotiate traffic and steadily improve her time to end the 15 minute qualifying session fourth fastest in class.
The opening race of the weekend took place later the afternoon with cool and dry conditions gracing the Brands Hatch circuit. Starting from fourth in class, Doran made a good start and moved into third place, less than half a second behind the class leader after the first lap. During the early stages, Christie’s pace was very good as she continued to stay within a couple of seconds of Simon Tomlinson and Barrie Culley who were trading fastest lap times at the head of Class B. As the race progressed, the more experienced drivers pulled away with Doran holding a solid third position, ahead of Amy Dziurzynski. At the end of the 17 lap race, Christie held on to take a great podium result in the opening race at Brands Hatch and was targeting further silverware in the two races taking place on Sunday.
Sunday morning brought warmer conditions for the final two races of the weekend with Christie lining up third in class for the first race of the day, courtesy of her podium finish in the opening race of the meeting. Doran made a fantastic start and moved into second place on the first lap, before taking over the lead shortly after with a mechanical problem for leader Barrie Culley forcing him to retire. With significant pressure from Simon Tomlinson and Amy Dziurzynski, Christie did a fantastic job defending from her rivals before starting to pull out a small gap over second place Tomlinson. As the race progressed, Doran looked more comfortable out front and was showing great maturity whilst leading as she targeted her first ever victory in the VAG Trophy. With a little over five minutes remaining, the race was brought under the safety car, and subsequently red flagged for incident involving Darelle Wilson. Due to the timing of the safety car, a full restart was to take place with Christie coming within seconds of winning her first VAG Trophy race, but she would now have to fend off challenges from her rivals once again.
The drivers lined up on the grid for the full restart with a shortened four minute sprint to decide round two of the weekend. Once again, Christie made a brilliant start and led Class B into Paddock Hill bend with Tomlinson in hot pursuit. Unfortunately a mechanical failure forced Doran to slow and come into the pits on the opening lap of the restarted race. However, Christie returned to the track to limp the car home but missed out on any championship points as she was unable to complete 80% of the restarted race distance, a cruel blow for Doran who had driven a perfect race and looked set for a maiden victory.
Determined to bounce back from her earlier disappointment, Christie lined up fourth in class for the final race of the weekend with some excellent work by the Slidesports team to repair the car in time for the finale. Doran made a good start and jumped up to third in class, passing the Audi of Tony Taylor on the opening lap. Frustrated by the Class A cars of Matthew Wilson and Tim Docker getting amongst the Class B battle early on, Christie was patient and stayed in touch with the leaders whilst the more powerful cars made their way through the field. This paid dividend during the 15 lap race as Doran made her way past Tomlinson into second on lap 12 and began reeling in leader Dziurzynski in the closing stages, just running out of time to mount a challenge for the Class B lead. Nevertheless, it was an extremely mature drive from Doran who impressed with some clean overtakes, in addition to claiming her first fastest lap of the season.
Christie’s positive attitude and fighting spirit were vital to her successes over the course of the weekend as she endured the highs and lows of motorsport. Coming within seconds of her first ever victory will be tough to take, but the experiences gained by leading for a prolonged period and defending the race lead will prove vital in the coming meetings. Doran’s starts have been particularly impressive in her VAG Trophy career so far, often gaining multiple positions on the opening lap, passing her fair share of Class A cars in the process. Christie’s next outing in the VAG Trophy will come in July when the drivers will face the challenging Brands Hatch Grand Prix circuit with Doran targeting her first victory.