Driving Miss Daisy

After collecting Miss Daisy on the Friday, it was about 4.00pm when Ian and I got back to the office and nearer 6.00pm when I finally got home. With 51 delivery miles on the clock, I wanted to get out on the road as I have been told to get as many miles on as possible. Of course there was the M4, though I recall there was a Bookatrack track day at Rockingham. So a quick visit to MetCheck stated that Rockingham would be dry and sunny for Saturday 6th and with 15 places still available on the Bookatrack website, it was an obvious choice to attend.

Arriving late due to a road closure on the A43, I was just in time for the safely briefing. That done and while everyone was out on their siting laps, this was my chance to check tyre pressures and wheel nut torques and other ancillary checks. No race suite today as that is back with Sparco under warranty, so jeans and rugby shirt was the order of the day.

As I came out of the garage, the circuit was already on red, closed by a spinner, though I still made my way towards to the track. While waiting, I was chatting to one of the marshals who confirmed my fears that the circuit was still wet and damp from the night before. If you’ve driven at Rockingham before, then you’ll know that when they say wet and damp, the other side of the equation is slippy! With 51 delivery miles on the clock and my own 51 yards, I was eager to get on track though conscious that this was a brand new vehicle with ‘agricultural’ tyres which were brand new, far different to the R500.

We were on the International Long circuit today and when the lights went green and we were waved through. Timidly out on to track and a late entry into Deene was like driving on ice with both understeer and oversteer snaking the car around the corner with my heart pumping, knowing the tyre wall was not that far away. However, safely though and onward via Yentwood to Chapman and I already knew this was why the car is called ‘Miss Daisy’ as for the rest of the lap and indeed the other half dozen or so, was simply a case of getting use to the handling and the slippy surface.

For the rest of the early morning, this was simply a case of getting some miles on the clock, though after elevenses the track was now quite try with the odd patch of dampness and time was right to try and up a gear. Obviously not breaking any records, but the car felt great and taking on board tips to use the curbs, the car washed out where I expected and the whole experience became smoother with time. Looking down at the dash, there was a waning light and I did tend to think the breaks were getting a little soft, so it was back to the garage for a quick inspection. Low and behold, there was break fluid seeping from the offside rear caliper and with wheel off, a quick tighten and refill of fluid in the reserviour over lunch and we were ready for the afternoon.

By 13.00pm the circuit was pretty much dry everywhere and now was the time to see if I could scrub the tyres a little more. Breaks were still feeling a little soft, but I am told this is normal in a new car, but the rest of the afternoon became most enjoyable. Only on one occasion did the agricultural tyres come in useful as we went a little off roading at Brook in the afternoon but this was compensated by taking the Chicane in a higher gear and a little faster. The day closed premature with a Peugeot making contact post Gracelands, an unfortunate end for the driver but with now some 180 miles on the clock, soon will be the time when I can take the ‘Running In, Please Pass’ sticker!

Next week, Spa Francochamps!