Racing driver Craig Dolby insists there is still much more to come from his team after securing their first Blancpain GT podium finish on Sunday, writes Chris Harby.
Dolby and team-mate Sean Walkinshaw guided the JRM Racing Nissan GT-R Nismo GT3 to third and sixth place finishes in round two of the Sprint Series at Brands Hatch.
The Englishmen, driving for German team MRS GT-Racing, had been tasked with a top eight points finish after an accident wrecked their opening round at Nogaro, France, last month.
But despite handsomely exceeding their targets at the Kent circuit, Dolby was not entirely satisfied.
He said: “The podium in race one was really good, but we have gone from wanting top 10s at the start of the season to being disappointed with sixth place. That shows how good we think we can be.
“If you look at the Audis and Lamborghinis, they have been a team for years. Sean and I are both rookies in this series, we are in a brand new car and new team so we are still learning.
“But if you look at the team’s results, the signs are very promising for the rest of the season.”
As at Nogaro, the Nissan showed good pace early in the weekend, with Dolby setting the fastest time in the second session of free practice before earning the Nissan fourth on the starting grid for race day.
Dolby and Walkinshaw held their position to the chequered flag in race one before they were elevated to third when the second-placed Audi was penalised for a pit lane infringement.
In the main race, Walkinshaw handed the Nissan over to Dolby in fifth place, and he was then forced on the defensive as fresher tyres helped a chasing Audi and Lamborghini close on Dolby’s tail.
The Melton driver employed all of his racecraft to keep the pair at bay until the final laps when the Lamborghini got through.
Dolby added: “In the main race we were struggling at one corner which harmed us a lot for pace, but we did well to hold the Audi off.
“We knew we would be fairly strong at Brand Hatch, but we knew Audi, BMW and the McLarens would be strong too, so to be up there fighting was good.”
At 27, Dolby is used to hard racing, and fought against ex-Formula 1 drivers to finish second in back-to-back seasons in Superleague Formula.But the hyper competitive and professional edge of Blancpain is a new test altogether. Next stop is Silverstone for round two of the three-hour endurance series on Sunday, May 24.
“It’s probably the hardest championship I have ever been in; I have never been in anything like it,” he said.
“The driving is unreal and the cars are super competitive. Every single lap is like a qualifying lap.
“You are fighting over a tenth of a second so one tiny mistake can cost you massively. We know there are a few little things we can work hard on and learn from and then we’ll be right up there.”