You can usually tell how your day’s going to go within the very first laps sitting beside a new driver. With Jonathan Pascall at Donington, I was put immediately at ease with the confidence, fluidity and ease with which he put the E36 through her paces on a greasy December morning. It was fantastic to see how much he enjoyed the car and pushing himself forward, and no surprise at all that he passed his ARDS shortly afterwards and was ready to go racing.
Come May, we headed to Silverstone for a very entertaining day’s testing – listen to this schoolboy in the cockpit, such delight! – and JP’s first-ever race in Trackday Trophy. We talked through his nerves to get him to drive the first stint and take the start, superbly, before fighting a wide range of cars in a race that started dry and then became a downpour.
A calamity of timing cost us a lap doing our pitstop under the safety car, so a result was off the cards no matter how hard I drove in the second half, but the die had cast true: we’d created a seriously capable driver hungry for more racing. He’s ever his own biggest critic, but JP’s footage is a joy to watch – and it’s rare the person who has to look after the car will say that! Few can drive so quickly with such care and finesse, and it’s immediately obvious how much talent lies beneath the unassuming demeanour.
We managed another all-too-brief outing at Silverstone again, the Grand Prix circuit this time, where Jonathan fended off a last lap assault to keep us on the podium in only his second race. There’s so much more to come as he ponders now what car to buy and where to race in 2022. He’s not just a trusted pair of hands with deep reserves of ability, he’s also genuinely kind, thoughtful and cracking company at a racetrack. I’m looking forward enormously to being along for every lap of the ride with him!