Donington Park

My cherry has been popped, I’m no longer a track day virgin!

Yesterday I did about 300 miles, over 100 of which were on track [:D] I turned up at 4.15pm well prepared, spare wheels, brake pads, brake fluid, back seats removed. I must have spent too much time hanging around with Mark r on the 4th! I was still slightly apprehensive because id never driven on the spare wheels and my brake pads were all but worn out already!

5.30pm came round pretty quick and I decided to play it cool and let the oil warm while I watched the keenies fly off round the track. However, excitement got the better of me. I jumped in and strapped myself down; making sure the CD player was on loud (only joking) and trundled down the pit lane.

Wait for it, wait for it… GO!

Cue masses of wheel spin in 1st… oops and I dive into Redgate, ummm the line through here’s going to be tricky. Racking my brain I try to remember the lines Mark took in the Clio. I take it steady down Craner keeping to the left; ummm not the line Mark took!

I attempt to throw it into the old hairpin, hugging the kerb. Waugh this feels good, if a little slow. I pedal up to the top of the hill remembering to keep left before flinging right, ooops bit of oversteer [:D] Flat in third I get to Coppice and think about throwing it in like Mark did and then decide better of it. Under the Dunlop Bridge looked where the cars ahead were braking and decided to copy before diving at the kerb into the Goddards esses and out onto the pit straight. Yes, this is going to be fun.

I stayed out for what seemed like ages and could have stayed out a bit longer but I thought id be sensible and have a bit of a break. Five minutes later I went back out [:D]

This time though I was really getting the back end working and soon over heated the passenger side rear wheel [:O] which lead to an inside spin at Coppice onto the grass. Now on the road when you spin (not that I do of course) it can get the adrenaline really pumping, but it felt funnily natural on the track! And I just carried on at a slightly less hooligan pace… until the next lap when I span at Goddards…. Oops… again. I decided to come in and have a look at that pesky tyre.

The outside _ was well scuffed where-as the inside was hardly touched. So I thought id swap the rears over and see if that made a difference. Out I went again and I was starting to plan a bit more about what I was going to do, into, through and out of each corner (whilst keeping out of the way of the pesky Porsche race cars, grrr.)

Redgate is a tricky one, you want to turn in early but understreering off is the easy option if you do that so I brake late and turn in late. The kerb on the outside looms large, with me trying not to think about the gravel. In the end I was balancing the car between under and oversteer in third, never being completely confident.

Craner curves are quite daunting, everyone seems to keep right over to the right but I wasn’t keen on trusting the outside tyres that much so I generally kept over to the left before absolutely flinging the car into the old hair pin working the rear tyre off the rim (or so it felt) and balancing the over steer with the throttle, woohoo!

Up the hill flat all the way to Mcleans, using the entire kerb and sliding from the inside to the outside. The pull to coppice meant a change to 4th just before the braking point so I generally didn’t bother and let it bounce off the rev limiter before attempting to slide round the corner. Under the Dunlop Bridge I was hitting the rev limit in 4th before braking hard for the esses, snatching third mid corner and powering (subjective) up the start finish straight.

Most of the time I didn’t notice anyone else but the Porsches kept trying to melt my front bumper as they came past and I had a few laps when I felt like I would wear the right hand indicator out [V] The only other thing was fuel starvation through the old hairpin. Whenever I went below half a tank I’d lose power and revs. This is probably because the fuel pumps on the right hand side of the tank [V]

I think I only came in 4 times in three hours so I think I got my moneys worth!

I would have liked some passenger rides, there was a 996 turbo, EVO’s Jag and Caterhams and the Blackbirds/R500 etc. but I was having too much fun.

Be warned though I followed a bloke in a Mitsu Galant estate GR-V 4 ummm thingy who only managed three laps before smoke and flames were poring out the back…[xx(]

Ben Bradley (106rallye)