WatchGecko are very pleased to announce our latest brand ambassador to join the team, the British Racing Driver Scott McKenna!
We’re all pleased to announce that we have teamed up with young British racing driver Scott McKenna ahead of the 2018 season…
Scott McKenna is a British racing driver focused on his ambition to become a professional racing driver in GT and Endurance racing. Scott learnt his car control skills and honed his abilities through the family’s Ice Driving business in Scandinavia each winter.
From the earliest age, he could be found propped up behind the wheel driving on the frozen lakes of Scandinavia, developing the vital feel, his relaxed in car attitude and instinctive reactions that now prove to be his key assets.
A lack of funding cut short his 2017 season. Rather than try desperately to fund his season race to race, he chose to regroup and embark upon a more structured approach for 2018. This mature attitude has led to Scott forming relationships with several vitally important marketing partners for the 2018 season to embark on the 2018 Ginetta GT5 Challenge.
Pictured below: Scott on media day for the upcoming season sporting not only his full racing kit but also his Geckota C-01!
Scott’s passion for cars, as well as watches, made the decision to support him a very quick and easy one. Like-minded individuals who share the same genuine desire and determination to always achieve the best they can is important for us and we feel Scott is a perfect match for the whole team here at WatchGecko.
All of us here at WatchGecko are very excited to be apart of Scott’s journey and we’d like to all wish him the best of luck for the season ahead.
Don’t forget to follow along with his journey below:
We will be updating you all with news and images of Scott throughout the season so keep your eyes peeled for more updates!
Race 1: Oulton Park 31st March – 2nd March
It’s the 31st of March, the morning of the first race weekend of the season for Scott. The revenue for the race is Oulton Park and unfortunately, the weather was against all racers.
Scott finds himself on the soaking wet grid, having achieved the lowly, by his standards, position of 17th.
“There was an issue with the car that I had no control over, so that was the best we could do.” As the lights changed, Scott’s lack of a chance to practice race starts on the different tyres meant that he dropped to 20th. With the races being of only 15 minutes duration, a slow start makes everything that much harder, with Scott climbing through the rain to reach 14th place, his starting position for Race Two.
The second race was a huge improvement, with a solid start and a strong climb through the field to 5th place, only for the red flags to be waved and the race halted just as things were looking very promising. Positions were fixed at a point two laps previously giving Scott 8th place and some valuable first points in the championship.
The challenging Easter weather meant that the final race of the day was sadly called off, though hopefully it will be rescheduled for later in the season.
Scott’s take aways from the weekend? “In race one, I was a little rusty. It’s almost a year since I actually raced wheel to wheel and no amount of testing can replicate that. I made sure on Race Two that I was right on it from the very first corner and that gave me a far better feeling in the car.”
“As ever, we all learned a lot from the weekend and HHC have been brilliant in both testing and also the race weekend. I’m really looking forward to the next race weekend and I can’t wait to be racing the GT5 on the full slick tyres and with dry race boots and no umbrella!”
Race 2: Rockingham 28th – 29th April
“I didn’t know that I’d done it at first. I’d been fourth and I knew that I was improving, though it didn’t actually feel like that quick a lap.
I was concentrating really hard on keeping it clean, no wheelspin as the track was soaking wet. I thought it was a good, clean lap.
It was only when I pulled in and my brother Ben was running over holding his finger up gesturing Number One that I realised I had done it.
Pole position for the first time ever!”
That was Scott’s recollection of his first ever pole position at Rockingham recently, something that is a special milestone in any racing drivers career. Qualifying in the Ginetta GT5 series is a busy process. With 32 cars all trying to post a time on a 2 mile race track, the chances of a completely traffic free lap is pretty remote. It is, of course the same for everyone and despite trying to be the first cars out on track, Scott found himself waiting in the pitlane as the session was red flagged after just one lap.
“All the great ideas that Si Shaw, driver coach at HHC had for getting out quickly were dashed. So we had to make the best of the situation.”
The resulting pole lap time is something that Scott will be proud of for some time to come. In the dying moments of qualifying, as the rain continued to fall. he went fastest.
“It was a great payback to sponsors and everyone who believed in me and a massive boost for me to know that in those conditions I could be the quickest driver out there and feel perfectly at home.”
Rockingham is one of the few circuits where pole position isn’t always a great place to be. The pole driver sits at the bottom of the steep banking. While he may have the inside line to the first corner, the two drivers ‘above’ him on the banking are able to use the incline to advantage and as the lights changed, Scott found himself dropping down the order a little. A third place was a good result and bode well for Sunday.
Sunday’s two races were another great learning opportunity for Scott. Defending hard on the first race, he realised that they were dropping back from the leaders, so let the other driver by. “For some reason, I just couldn’t stay with him and get a tow, so that plan didn’t work as I hoped!”
The final race was looking superb, with a distinctly average start dropping Scott to eighth place before a fight back to fourth. Just when Scott was shaping up for a last lap pass for third and a second podium, he was hit from behind in an over-optimistic move by Connor O’Brien. “I was massively frustrated, but afterwards Connor was genuinely apologetic and I know he didn’t do it on purpose, it was just one of those racing incidents. He got heavily penalised for it too, so there was nothing to be gained by being angry. These things happen.”
A weekend away with a 1963 TVR Grantura
Find out more about Scott’s recently weekend fun where we stopped off at Oulton Park racing circuit to drive a 1963 TVR Grantura racing car!
“A generous offer by the car’s owner Robi Bernberg to share a race in the AMOC Equipe GTS race series found Scott getting to grips with the TVR’s reduced grip, reduced braking power and increased body roll compared to the Ginetta GT5. “As soon as I left the pits, I could feel the lower grip level. The first corner was an adventure! The engine power is actually pretty good considering the age of the car and the handling is actually fantastic once I had dialled into it. It was so progressive and forgiving, it really inspires confidence. Malc and the guys at TTP have built a great car,”
Robi has owned the car for a few years now and while he knew that Scott would be quicker (after all that’s his job) he was a little surprised to be six seconds off Scott’s pace.
“Our first reaction was that he really ought to have more respect for his elders!
Then we sat together with the Vbox data overlays of both of our performances and Scott talked me through the laps and ways to close the gap. It’s actually really good to have a benchmark from someone like him. I’ve raced for twenty-five years, `Scott can count on both hands the number of races he has done, yet he is so relaxed and confident.”
You may well think that it would be demoralising, Robi says it’s the opposite. “Scott showed me that the difference in speed isn’t simply due to youth and sheer bravery. It’s quite simply that he studies every single aspect of his performance and constantly looks for ways to improve. Even the smallest fraction he considers important. When you begin to analyse your own performance in the car like that, you realise that it’s easy to slip into apace of driving that is not your best.”
Scott says, “We found Robi 0.8 of a second just by studying his braking and getting him to come off the brakes earlier and carry just a little more speed. There are lots more things we can do so I’d love to share a care with Robi again,”
Come the race, Robi started and ended his stint in fourth place. A less than stellar pit stop saw them drop down to 14th place as Scott rejoined. A spirited fightback found the car finish in 3rd place, Scott absolutely thrilled to have brought the car home in such a competitive way.
“Everyone was really friendly and it’s a great racing series. The atmosphere is really good fun and of course, once my age was known, there was plenty of digs from the older guys. I’d love to come back and do another round.”
Trophy time saw a good-natured debate as to whether AMOC rules allowed a trophy to be awarded to a driver who was sitting GCSE English the following week, but Scott promised not to take it to the exam room.
This week’s plans? Revision, more revision, check that he has lots of spare pens and that his calculator has spare batteries. Roll on the end of term.”
Check out one of Scott’s laps from the weekend below!
As many of you know, here at WatchGecko it’s not just watches many of the staff like, but an old-school classic car like this TVR also gets us going.
Race 3: Thruxton 19th May
“Well, that was exciting from where i was sitting, but probably not the greatest way to obtain points!”
That was the initial comment from Scott after a hectic weekend spent chasing a lap time at a circuit he knows well, has tested well at in the past and was really looking forward to brining home a result from.
Qualifying was ‘interesting’ with the team chasing dramatic oversteer throughout. While Scott’s style of driving is towards an oversteering car, too much of anything is bad for anyone. Oversteer may look spectacular and indeed, it’s one of Scott’s favourite driving instruments. However, it only works if the car is still driving forwards at a suitable pace. Too much oversteer and the car slows down. This is what Scott was contending with as he qualified in fourteenth place.
This strange handling was something that Scott had to contend with throughout the weekend and for some reason, it was something that could not be resolved.
This means he was fighting an uphill battle from the beginning. “No point stressing over it, all I could do was drive to the maximum of my ability 110% of the time.”
With a short 14 lap race, he had everything to do when the lights changed. It all seemed to be coming together on Lap One, as he enjoyed a rapid dash through to 5th place. Then a red flag halted the race. Because the race was less than one lap old, his gains were cancelled out as the grid reset. The restart was less dramatic and Scott finished 12th in Race One.
Race Two provided little comfort from the handling problem, so Scott simply concentrated on extracting the very best from his own ability, the result being a 9th place finish.
As Scott said, the inside of his Ginette GT5 was an exciting place to be at the high-speed curves of Thruxton, though not a particularly efficient way to obtain championship points.”
Race 4: Silverstone 9th June
Scott’s race weekend for the recent Ginetta GT5 round at Silverstone began with a different form of testing. While many drivers were testing setups on the circuit and enjoying two sessions of open testing, Scott was enduring a different kind of test nearby. Donning his school uniform instead of race overalls for one final time, Scott sat his English GCSE exam in the morning at a nearby school.
Much as he would have liked to give his sponsors a little extra exposure, he was forbidden from arriving in his race overalls. Scott’s regular school at his home in Stokesley have been incredibly supportive of his career objectives and were able to arrange for him to sit this exam close to Silverstone circuit.
Exams over, time for work…
Saturday’s qualifying was hectic with Scott making the best he could from a packed circuit of 58 cars, qualifying tenth overall. While the position wasn’t that good, Scott was calm.
“I knew I was faster than that. So while it wasn’t what I wanted, I knew my pace would be quicker. It’s not as if I had given it everything and only reached tenth.”
Sunday’s races proved to be exciting and eventful. Scott worked his way up from 10th to third place, earning another podium.
“It was a really good race, with no big dramas and instead, steady progress catching someone, picking them off, the closing down on the next one. Good times.”
Race Two was exciting, with Scott battling with Connor O’Brien A very small mistake by Connor left a gap for Scott to take advantage of. Though he was alongside, Conor moved across and ‘one of those racing incidents’ ensued. Both drivers were summoned to the stewards and initially, Scott was penalised significantly, losing 15 championship points, 3 point endorsement on his licence and losing his third-place finish.
The team paid to lodge an appeal and a long wait commenced as Scott was summoned to explain his actions. These hearings are always important as it ascertained whether something was simply one of those racing collisions that will sometimes happen, or whether a driver was simply being too aggressive or driving over his level of ability, both of which have significant safety issues.
Scott gave his account to the officials, simply stating that the overtake was a move he had already done successfully earlier in the race on another car at the same corner and that he was actually alongside and committed to the line when the other car moved across.
Replays of the video supported Scott’s account and he was exonerated, his points and championship position restored. It was time-consuming but worthwhile experience for Scott as in many of today’s televised race series, driver standards can sometimes be questionable and it shows that hard but close racing is what everyone wants, all the while drivers remaining in control of their emotions and abilities.
There’s a short break before the next round, though Scott will not be waiting around. He has another historic motorsport event to try and another new car to come to grips with. Watch this space.
Race 5: Knockhill 25th August
An eventful weekend for Scott…
It sounds like our motorsports ambassador had an eventful weekend recently for the build-up to Knockhill…
“Accidents happen. The disclaimer on your entrance ticket and the signs around the circuit explain as clearly as possible that motorsport is dangerous. As a driver, it’s a risk that each person deals with individually and Scott’s turn came on Monday, with consequences that we could not have anticipated.
It’s been an eventful week and the race weekend hasn’t even begun yet.
Monday morning’s testing finished suddenly and dramatically for Scott as, after making a mistake and spinning into a gravel trap, he was hit very hard indeed on the right front corner by his teammate Gus Bowers’ car who had, in turn, been hit by a less experienced driver. What started as a simple excursion into a gravel trap turned into a massively expensive and potentially dangerous incident for the HHC racing team, with heavy damage to both cars through being involved in an incident triggered by someone else.
The cars were recovered to the paddock and despite the very best attempts of the HHC Racing technicians, the car was deemed beyond repair at the circuit. With Scott’s teammate having the option on the only spare car on it’s way from the team’s Yorkshire HQ, it seemed that the entire week’s schedule was to be abandoned, with no race this weekend either.
Until Jonny Milner took a walk down the pit lane.
Jonny’s daughter Katie Milner is competing alongside Scott in the Ginetta GT5 Challenge and the team has a spare car. Upon hearing of Scott’s accident, they generously stepped forward with the over of the spare car for the weekend. No questions asked, no conditions, simply take it, race it.
The Milner spare car, being transformed into Scott’s colours
An overnight session in the Milner’s home workshops saw the car prepared and onto a transporter, heading to Knockhill. The following morning, the car was sitting in the pitlane, ready to roll.
Scott’s shakedown sessions confirmed that he was comfortable in the car as a few changes were made to ensure seat and pedal position were correct and he posted some preliminary times that he was comfortable with.
So this weekend, Scott will be racing in a borrowed car and will be on the grid thanks to some Yorkshire generosity.
Oh, and did we mention he got his exam results through? That time-consuming Silverstone English exam proved to be OK after all, he passed them all.
We think it’s going to be an eventful weekend.”