Cold and Wet Winter

It’s been a cold winter, though @NoisyPaul, Miss Daisy and I have battled the elements and now have some 1,500 miles on the clock. Silverstone in December was an interesting day, the track remaining closed until 11.00am due to the circuit being frozen. Alas, we were able to concentrate on overcoming understeer especially as Copse remained quite slippy throughout the day. On the shopping list for this season were added kettle and thermal mugs!

We have had two trips out at Mallory Park too, both in severe cold and wet conditions. The latter day in February was in torrential rain, which reminded me of the weekend in Spa last November. Quite honestly, I thought the day was unmanaged by the track day organiser even after the Evo closed the circuit for an hour and a half, smashing into the infield when exiting Gerrards. Indeed we also narrowly missed an incident when two cars collided just in front of us. For sure, each time the track was opened, it was a manic rush to get on circuit. No driver wanted to let anyone else pass and the day was more akin to following around in single file. It seemed to be a paradoxical position, each time the circuit opened after an incident, it was closed soon after as there was simply too much traffic for the conditions. I did pluck up the courage to suggest to the organiser that they run sessions as there was no real opportunity for quality track time, but the answer came back along the lines of they would never fill the event if they ran sessions and you get what you pay for. To me, this made a mockery of the safety briefing as they simply didn’t want to adapt to the conditions on the day. Six sessions of 20 minutes would have been safer and given more track time in the end, than sitting in the garage while the track remained closed for some two to three hours due to carnage. Nonetheless, the days helped again in understanding more about car control in the wet and for sure, the new surface at Mallory makes a whole lot of difference. It was also good to meet fellow competitors of Elliott Norris and Duncan Cundall-Curry.

It was a pleasure to meet with Mark Cox and Adrian Hume too at Castle Combe and also Rob Oliver at Abingdon, two perhaps drier days.

On the topic of meeting fellow competitors, it was great to meet others too at the ARDS day on 16th February at Castle Combe. Meeting such others was quite different from the initial meeting in December. I think we were all now coherent of the fact that we were on the road to become racing drivers. It was certainly interesting to me to discuss with others the state of ‘car build’ and how many had or were still experiencing difficulty with their car build. For me, it was certainly the best choice to have the car factory built as I know I would certainly have been frustrated if I were to build myself.

The ARDS day went well and everyone in our group passed. We were all split into groups and assigned numbers and colours and our group was first out on the skid pan. An old rear drive BMW and front wheel drive Rover and a very slippy surface was all that was needed for a little fun and how to control a front and rear wheel car in understeer, oversteer and breaking. I do think though, that I would like to do a little more car control with Miss Daisy. Afterwards it was a small briefing of additional setup requirements before lunch.

After lunch it was time for the practical driving test, written theory test and ‘piss in the pot’ medical. Both the driving and written tests were easier than I thought. It was nice that my driving test instructor was David da Costa who I already know, which meant the time on track was relaxed and I was able to focus on the job at hand. For the written, so long as you remember your flags you are more than half way to passing. There were about 8 to 10 questions about flags and you have to get 100% to pass, asking you to write what colour you would expect to see in different scenarios. I did have to append the words ‘checked’ and ‘triangular’ to both the ‘black and white’ answers when I re-read the answers, phew! The next element was to attain a minimum 80% pass on some 15 multiple choice questions and so long as you have some common sense and know what to do if you drop your helmet, a pass is a walk in the park.

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