Blancpain Sprint Series rookie Daniel Lloyd says he is taking a huge amount of positivity away from the opening event of the season at Nogaro in France over the Bank Holiday weekend, 19th/20th/21st April, having made significant progress with the Bhai Tech Racing McLaren MP4-12C GT3.
While team and driver both had a huge amount to learn and adapt to during the course of the first race meeting of 2014, particularly with mixed weather conditions providing an additional challenge, the Huddersfield 22-year-old showcased his speed and ability on his way to 14th place in round one.
Working on a variety of set-up changes throughout practice and into qualifying, Daniel and Estonian team-mate Sten Pentus were disappointed to start the rain-affected Qualification Race on Sunday from 17th place but the Briton produced an absolutely stunning opening lap.
Making an outstanding getaway, Daniel sliced his way through the order into 13th position and looked all set for a strong challenge as he battled the sister Bhai Tech McLaren piloted by ex-Formula One driver Giorgio Pantano. As the track dried out, though, Daniel and Pentus had to settle for 17th position in the one-hour contest.
After making some significant changes to the car overnight, hopes were high of a much improved performance and during warm-up on Monday morning that was borne out when Daniel notably produced the second fastest lap – a mere 0.057 seconds shy of the works Audi of Laurens Vanthoor.
Disappointingly, the main championship race on Monday afternoon was compromised when contact to the car early in Pentus’ stint impacted the performance. Taking over the McLaren in 17th position after the mandatory driver change, Daniel eventually finished the race in an improved 14th place.
“This weekend has been a massive learning curve and we made some big steps forward”, said the British Racing Drivers’ Club (BRDC) Rising Star, “I’m genuinely pleased with my performances over the weekend and the team was really happy with my driving as well. It was great teaming up with Sten [Pentus] for the first time, he’s a really good driver.
“Thanks to McLaren for their help with the car in Nogaro, we had a couple of guys working with the team and their input was invaluable. I’m confident the McLaren will suit Brands Hatch far more so we’ve got high hopes for what we can achieve there next time out.”
Television highlights of round one of the 2014 Blancpain Sprint Series will be screened on digital satellite and cable outlets British Eurosport, BT Sport and Bloomberg over the coming days and weeks – check listings for details.
Round two of the season will mark the first of two ‘home’ race meetings for Daniel this year and will take place over the weekend 17th/18th May, at Brands Hatch Grand Prix Circuit in Kent.