Sometimes, occasions come up that are simply too good to turn down, I had one such occasion just recently.
A friend said he’d booked a track day at Oulton. He’d driven my car previously at Anglesey, and had given me the chance to drive his car on the road more than once (every time I had to decline because i’m not insured to), so when the chance came up to drive it on track, I wasn’t going to miss the opportunity. I’ve featured the car on here before, in a previous state of tune (see here), and the chance to drive what is effectively a very well developed track car (that is completely road legal and was driven both there and back, might I add!) was definitely something that got the cogs working.
The time drew closer, I kept a close eye on what the weather was forecasted to do, despite knowing that whatever plans mother nature had in store, nothing could be changed. And the day came… It’d rained overnight, so upon arrival at the circuit, it was, well, it was greasy. Think Friday night kebab greasy, and you’d almost be there. Marc did the sighting laps, although in better conditions, it would have made more sense for me to do them to get a feel for the car, knowing we’d be expected to keep up with the flow of traffic, and having never driven the car, circuit, or indeed on sticky tyres meant it made more sense this way. I was quite fortunate I did, even at the 50/60mph of the sighting laps, the car was sliding about. This was obviously going to be an interesting day.
There were numerous red flags, courtesy of drivers getting rather ambitious early on and taking off track excursions. On one of my early laps, not only did we have a car spin in front of us at Britten’s chicane, but then at Druids a second car span causing the following car to take evasive action, and the car behind that to simply abort the corner entirely and exit stage left taking the long route over the gravel. In our defence, we did manage to keep the car pointing in roughly the right direction all day, and without any real ‘moments’.
Strict drive by noise levels breached early in the day meant we were forced to take a trip to the cafe for a can of Coke which became something of a makeshift silencer. Note the responsible act of tethering it incase the gases chose to eject it;
Unfortunately it didn’t last too long, and we resorted to simply keeping the revs away from the limiter (which would result in rather aggressive bangs), and turning the boost down considerably, which kept us in good stead for the most part of the day before I – on one rather spirited occasion – got a little carried away and made a few too many trips to the high revs that held the bulk of the power and got us black flagged. Perhaps this was more of a sign, however, since it wasn’t much later that the heavens opened and the rains came.
Any who, for the most part of the day, the rain had stayed away letting a dry line appear, which meant the circuit got quicker, and went from being frustrating, with none of the corners seeming to flow right, to suddenly working brilliantly, and us being able to make use of the aeros on the car, in turn getting more heat into the tyres, so we could go quicker, meaning the aeros were working even better, and so on, and so forth. It was in these drier conditions that the car really came alive, despite having a whole heap of power going through the front wheels, the combination of chassis modifications, aero and power train development meant the car – which I had expected to be intimidating – suddenly felt like it was an extension of me, as cliche as that sounds. It really was a hell of a lot easier to drive fast than I expected. Sure it still took all the concentration I could muster, but it wasn’t as though I was constantly fighting against it, merely with it.
Unfortunately the modifications i’d had to get done to my camera mount meant it couldn’t be mounted to the cage, instead we managed to mount it to the rear deck, however it still did a more than ample job for a 6/7 year old digital camera. Here’s the videos (please note, that yes, there are many places where we could have gone faster, should have shifted down etc, however we were not only taking it steady, but, as mentioned trying to avoid any more noise issues). First video is Marc, showing us how it’s done;
And here’s my attempt. Being used to (by comparison) relatively standard cars, I’m used to going for much longer stints, so when the temp gets a little high, and the car puts itself into safe mode half way through, I simply back off for a few laps to let it cool off, before going at it again and having a bit of fun with a 205, who I could have passed all too easily on the straights, however he was more than quick enough in the corners for me to chose to sit behind, knowing i’d probably not pull away over a lap, and so passing would leave him in the situation i’ve been in so many times before of being out dragged in a straight line, only to be held up in the corners. However, his overly hot attempt at Druids late in the video gives me a chance to pass before backing off and receiving the black flag that signalled the end of the day for us;
I’d like to give a massive thanks to Marc for letting me loose in Lulu, and also to extend my apologies to Booty who turned up not long after i’d got triggered the sound meters meaning he wasn’t able to get a passenger lap in.