Much anticipated Round 1 which would be hosted at Oulton Park which is actually a track I enjoy. I had booked the Thursday and Friday on the race weekend to gain some practice before qualifying on the Saturday.
Qualifying this was my first attempt at qualifying in the Mini this would be a lot different to the Ginetta which I have been used to. The 20 minutes commenced and I was very consistently in the top 4 until 3 minutes from the end when the track became faster and I did not, until my last lap of which in the first sector alone I was 3 tenths of a second up which even if the rest of the lap I hadn’t improved would have put me 4th but due to another driver causing a road block I didn’t improve my time and dropped to P9. But still this was an impressive time due to the fact if was my first ever qualifying in the new Mini Challenge car.
Race 1 I started off P9 which off the start I dropped a couple of places due to the fact I didn’t get a good start because I hadn’t ever experienced a FWD start before. After lots of battling and late moves I managed to come up to P5 and gained first rookie podium in my first ever race in the Mini ! this was a big achievement.
Race 2 due to the reverse grid I started P2 and after a much better start I kept my position and after a solid few laps keeping my P2 I excited the chicane and then suddenly the car shut down… this was absolutely devastating as I was in second in only my second race out of 30+ cars, I was then sidelined thinking what could have been. This only shows the fight I am bringing this year and at only my first race is promising and gives me confidence for the races to come.
Following on from 2 successful years in the Ginetta GT5 Challenge, Max Bird, an 18 year old college student from Chichester will be racing in the MINI CHALLENGE JCW class for 2019.
Max finished 4th in the Ginetta GT5 championship in 2018 with a win at Thruxton and two wins in the final round at the Donington, together with two second places, three thirds and three fastest laps in his second full season of car racing. In addition, Max won his class in the Dubai 24hrs in January 2018 driving a Renault Clio Cup car, finishing 50th overall out of 90 starters they covered 1700 racing miles at an average speed of 71 mph, so he has some experience of a front-wheel-drive car to bring to his 2019 campaign.
When asked how he would sum up his 2018 racing Max said, “My driving has improved during the year and with such a competitive grid I am pleased with my 4th place and feel ready for the next challenge“.
Max will join Lawrence Davey Racing for his 2019 assault and hopes to benefit from Lawrence’s considerable racing experience and in particular his experience preparing and racing in the JCW class, where he has been a consistent front runner since the championship started.
Max will have continued support in 2019 from the international company Orbx Simulation Systems and from local companies, including Bluebird Developments, Artec Engineering, Core Results, Game Set and Match, Sycamore Cars and the Goodwood Health club. John Venema of Orbx said “We are delighted to be able to have supported Max this year and are very impressed with the tremendous results that he has achieved so far in his career“.
Looking towards the coming year Max said, “I have come on a lot in the last year with the help of David my mind coach, and with his continued support and my physical training programme, I am looking forward to competing in the Mini Challenge and I am aiming to get on the podium by mid season.”
You can follow my progress throughout 2019 at www.maxbird.co.uk or on Twitter @maxbird35 or Facebook @maxbirdracing or Instagram @maxbirdofficial.
Donnington was to be the host for the last round of the 2018 championship, this track is above and beyond any other in my opinion.
In practice my pace showed being one of the fastest in every session very promising before qualifying on the Saturday morning. When qualifying came I managed to put a sensational time together to go pole by almost a second only to be beaten to the post by 5 thousands on the final lap! But I was more than satisfied with P2.
Race 1 was very very wet I started P2 and didn’t get the best of starts as I span the rear wheels up meaning several cars came past me into the first corner! I then thought about what my mind coach had told me to do in bad situations and I then picked myself up and then proceeded to pick several cars off winning the race with a gap and gaining fastest lap by a big margin.
Race 2 I started Pole and got an amazing start leading into the first corner with a slight gap I then lead the rest of the lap until the safety car came out and of which lasted 3 laps, I then got an amazing re start and went on to win the race with again the fastest lap.
Race 3 This was the final race of the year and the reverse grid! I started P10 and got a brilliant start and within 3 laps was up to P4 and then making a move for P3 someone decided to give me a nudge wide meaning I lost ground to the top few cars. I then got the bit between my teeth ad pushed on to catch them all back up
and managed to do some amazing overtakes finishing in a respectable P3
All I can say is 2019 watch out!!!
Knockhill is a track I haven’t tested at much before so I decided to give myself the best chance for the weekend I would fly up a week before and do some vital setup testing and thankfully by the end of the day I had found what I felt was a fast setup which I could produce some good times with ahead of the weekend.
Friday came and it was test day and for both of the test sessions I was in the top 5 of which I was very pleased with because I had only been there once before ! There were a few slight adjustments to the setup I had previously perfected due to different rubber laid on the track didn’t quite work.
Saturday was almost the perfect day, I went out in Qualifying put my 44 car on the front row until the last lap when I was beaten to the post by 5 hundredths dropping me to P4 but this was still an awesome position to start race 1! Starting on the second row I got good start to the race and then slowly watched my competitors where they were slower and faster than myself, and then 3 laps before the end of the race I went in for the move on 3rd place and then pounced on 2nd place of which I gained both places. I was so happy with a 2nd place finish because I knew the pace was there and the opportunity of a win in race 2 was on the cards!
Sunday this was a very exciting day I started on the front row for the race which was in the full wet I made a good start and within laps there was a red flag at this time I was in 3rd and then when we commenced racing again I restarted in 3rd place and is where I stayed for the rest of the race and even though it wasn’t a win I was very happy with a double podium!
I arrived at Silverstone extremely confident pre weekend as we had done a test there and we had learnt a lot and was very fast! When we got into Friday testing it proved I was quick on old tyres when everyone else had gone new and this was very promising for the qualifying on Saturday afternoon! Qualifying came and I got into the session and started pushing and I couldn’t get any straight-line speed and the cornering was absolutely awful, so I ended up p14 which I was extremely angry about so I came in and spoke to the team and they didn’t know why the setup didn’t work and then when we got back to the awning they found the a huge technical issue with my car but the damage was already done. Race 1 came and I started 14th and after a difficult and tough race I managed p6 which from where I started and the size of the track I was over the moon with. Race 2 I came into thinking I could win but I feel like we didn’t get the setup right and also I felt like I had cooked the tyres after the great drive in race one so I ended up a respectable 8th place, rounding up the weekend I feel like we all did our best and sometimes consistency will win.
R3 was at Thruxton Motor Circuit of which we hadn’t tested a lot at as the availability of the track is few and far between. Running up to the weekend I had spent a day on the track getting back into the swing of things this definitely helped find a base setup for the race weekend.
When we arrived at the race circuit on Saturday I felt very confident for what was to come ! this was going to be a tough task but I felt like we had the pace to win. I had to go straight into Qualifying on Saturday morning and I immediately felt comfortable in the car,on the second lap I set purple sectors and went P3 but according to a report from the marshall I had used track limits so they removed my amazing lap and used my second fastest lap leaving me P8. After some later analysis we found out from the camera footage I hadn’t actually used the track limits but we couldn’t undo the decision as it was too late ! making me very angry!
Race 1 I started P8 and made a brilliant start getting up to P5 but as the race carried on I started to get a problem with understeer and this confused me as the setup I was using shouldn’t produce this at all and this hugely affected the speed I was able to carry around Goodwood and Church!I could also feel the brakes going and this was causing me to struggle to slow my car down in the heavy braking zones, so I ended up finishing 7th. We analysed the data and the car and found that the left side brakes were hugely worn and were stuck on! not something you’d want round such a high speed track!
Race 2 I started off P7 and made and awesome start up to P5 and after a lap I was back down to 11th as I was forced wide off the exit of Church I then re grouped and thought to myself lets have this! and one by one I picked off 6 cars in 2 laps I the set my sights for the win of which I had to close a 5 second gap to the top 3 ! this I did and 4 laps from the end I had overtaken 3rd and 2nd place and had to close down on the first place car I was absolutely on it purple sectors all-round holding the fastest lap for a while, and with 2 laps to go I passed the leader with a stunning move around the outside of church and I took the lead which is where I stayed and I won the race gaining full championship points !
R1 of the Ginetta Gt5 championship was at Oulton Park a track which is a favourite of mine on the 2018 calendar. We started with practice on Thursday and Friday which as proven last year showed I was one of the fastest if not the fastest driver there!
When it came to Quli we were very confident as it was very wet and those are my ideal conditions, I was dominant through the session until the last 3 seconds when my team mate pipped me by 0.09 which was a shame for me but I was happy to still be on the front row. Race 1 we started off p2 and I made a good initial start but my clutch wouldn’t release which meant I then struggled down to turn 1 where by this time I had lost 3 places dropping me to 4th where I finished. Race 2 I made an amazing start up to 2nd of which was short lived when another competitor decided he would push me off the circuit dropping me down to 19th place of which I climbed back to 13th by the end of the race. Race 3 due to weather conditions was cancelled and will be carried over to Rockingham R2.
Overall the weekend was a learning curve and will be improved on.
For the second year running, Max Bird signs with Fenny Compton based Century Motorsport in the Ginetta GT5 Championship.
Bird, 17, had a successful season racing with Century in 2017, winning the season opener at Oulton Park and achieving pole position at the final round at Donington, netting a second and third that weekend. Ending the season fourth in the championship was an impressive achievement for his rookie season.
Century are entering their third year in the championship with the sole aim to take the title and with it being Bird’s second year, it’s a very realistic goal.
Bird speaking of the upcoming season:
“I am looking forward to this season and after the results I produced at the final round of last year I believe the championship is within reach for 2018. After winning Dubai in the A2 class at the beginning of this year I feel like I am ready!”
Nathan Freke, Owner of Century Motorsport, is pleased that Bird has re-signed with the team:
“It’s great to be working with Max again in 2018. We shared a lot of success in 2017 and the package we have for 2018 is a very strong one. Our aim is to win the championship and we believe that Max has the ability to do this.
The GT5 championship is an important one to us, as we want to offer a ladder system through Century Motorsport progressing into either Ginetta Supercup or our GT programme, and GT5 is the start of it all.
There is a lot of promising talent on the grid so it’s an exciting time for the future of British Motorsport. We are all looking forward to the season ahead with Max.”
Max is delighted to announce that he has signed with Go Motorsport Management for 2018.
Go Motorsport Management will provide support to Max during 2018 to help him achieve his goals and to further lay the foundations for the next few years when Max hopes to compete in GT Racing in the UK and abroad.
Max Bird is one of the youngest drivers ever to compete in the Dubai 24h series and came away first try with a class win. ” This was really a test of my confidence, fitness and mental focus without the team and my parents and the help i was provided i wouldn’t have been able to achieve this” Max is looking forward to this up and coming season where he will be competing in the Ginetta GT5 championship of which he came 4th last year in his first year and believes that the gain confidence from winning Dubai will enable him to mount his 2018 championship campaign.