Christie Doran enjoyed an eventful meeting in the VAG Trophy at Brands Hatch in which she collected her first podium finish of the season. Changeable conditions throughout the day made setup choices extremely tough, but the Slidesports team worked hard to ensure Doran had a competitive car in which to mount her Class B challenge. After qualifying in third, Christie was able to hold that position in a first race which saw no full lap of green flag racing due to multiple safety car deployments. Race two proved to be much smoother with Doran enjoying a close battle with Barrie Culley before finishing in fourth, just missing out on a double podium result. Speaking of her weekend at Brands Hatch, Christie commented “It was great being back in the car after such a long break, but I felt there was something holding me back. Slidesports had done a great job with the car but we struggled to find the sweet spot until the final session of testing. At the end of the day, most of the corners are about how brave you are and I needed an extra shot of adrenalin”.
Following a lengthy summer break, Christie was confident ahead of the weekend at Brands Hatch, a track which she has shown good speed at in the past. Although Friday testing just took place on the Indy layout, Doran was pleased with her day’s work ahead of the main event on Saturday which would take place on the Grand Prix circuit. Commenting on her preparations for the weekend, Doran was pleased, saying “We were testing on the Indy circuit and the lap times were on the money so we are good for the VAG Trophy in a couple of weeks. We had also had a session at Darren Turner’s Base Performance in Banbury. That was a brilliant way to learn the GP lines and build confidence. I was doing great lap times and I was confident I could translate the sim to the real track”.
Qualifying proved to be a tough session with yellow flags preventing any quick laps during the opening half of the 15-minute period. Despite a small incident at Paddock Hill towards the end of the session, Christie was pleased with her times commenting “We had a decent qualification. I was building the times but then I had a big moment on Paddock Hill. I locked up the fronts but floored the throttle and thought I had saved it, but the car cut back and I ended up in the gravel. That shook my confidence because I thought I had done everything right. It was just my luck this season that we did a lot of damage but Slidesports did an amazing job to fix the car and get me out”. Nonetheless, strong speed at the start of the session saw Doran able to record the third fastest time in Class B which would set her up nicely for the races.
Christie’s eventful weekend continued into the first race which was held in the wet after a brief downpour meant tricky conditions for all the drivers. Staying out of trouble early on, Doran completed the opening lap in fourth as the safety car was brought out. Completing less than a lap following the restart, a second safety car came out for Tim Docker, before a third on lap four which benefited Christie as the Class B leader retired after a trip through the gravel. Unfortunately, the time taken to retrieve the car meant that no full green flag laps were completed during the race with Christie taking a spot on the podium in third position. Although the conditions didn’t lead to great racing, Doran was delighted with her first podium of the season and said, “The race was constantly interrupted by safety cars and I was a bit tentative but I was delighted to get third place in class. You don’t want it under a safety car but I was so glad to give the team something back”.
Just like in race one, a short downpour before the second VAG Trophy race left the track damp, but not quite as wet as earlier in the day. Christie made another good start and smartly held her position while a number of faster Class A cars charged through the order. The early stages of the race saw Doran holding the final podium place, while rival Barrie Culley mounted an attack in his Seat Leon behind. On lap five, Culley was able to find a way past but Christie settled in behind and was ready to pounce if her rival made a mistake. Doran showed good pace in the closing stages but was unable to pass Culley, ending the second and final race of the weekend in fourth. Christie remained upbeat despite just missing out on the podium and credited the hard work put in by the Slidesports team, commenting “The team just had time to change things for race two and I felt more comfortable but it was still tough so I had to be happy with fourth place in class. I had to dig deep this weekend and I am proud of the results but I must have run over a black cat or something – I just need my luck to change.
Brands Hatch proved to be a weekend of confidence building for Christie who will be encouraged by her pace in all conditions, which led to her first podium of the year. Doran’s pace on the Grand Prix loop in particular was extremely encouraging which will give cause for optimism with a number of high-speed circuits still to come in this year’s VAG Trophy. It is a quick turnaround for all the drivers with the next round of the championship also taking place at Brands Hatch, this time on the Indy layout, in two weeks’ time where Christie will be targeting further podium finishes.
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