When selecting my options for the car I went for more of a road-biased choice, with the plan being I’d have the odd trip around a track to stretch it’s legs. That time to stretch is here! I chose the nearest track to me for convenience – Knockhill – and roped in my friend Rav and his new Lotus Exige. So new was the Exige, it wasn’t even run in yet, so the pair of us were probably not setting the world alight with our laptimes.
To prep for the day I checked and topped up oil and coolant, checked the tyre pressures – and that was about it for the car. I also bought a full-face helmet, my old motorbike lids being well past their best.
It was an open session from 10:00 – 17:00, so lots of track time for the day. We were fortunate with the weather too – hot, sunny, humid. After the morning briefing overtaking, some of the key braking points around the track, a review of the meaning of the flags, and the importance of towing eyelets (essentially how we could all play nicely together and get pulled out of the gravel if we needed to be) we were ready to roll. It was a really mixed group in terms of cars and experience, with a couple of other Caterham, Westie and Raptor owners happy to chat and share experiences between runs in the car. There was also some quite mad/serious track BMWs and Subarus, and a Atom which was super-quick. The day wasn’t too crowded so it wasn’t hard to find space on the track for a clear run.
After my first few quite tentative laps in quieter moments on the track, I started to get the hang of it and some heat in the tyres and brakes, and as I did I started to understand how little of the capability of the car it’s safe to use on the road. The day was over far too soon; just as I felt I was getting to be less of a mobile chicane, more confident with the track and ready to push the car more, time was up. I was properly tired at the end of the day – physically and mentally – but what a great experience.
It was so good, I immediately planned my next day back at Knockhill. I also invested in some kit to help me review my laps – the video linked in this post is a couple of my better laps from this second session using this set-up. I’ve still not found the limit of the car or tyres, and so I think with more confidence (and if I remember to push the throttle all the way down when accelerating – check the video) I think a 1:02 is not out of the question.
If you haven’t taken your car out on track yet, I heartily recommend it. I enjoyed it far more than I thought I would and I’m sure track days are going to be a feature of my summers from now on. It’s Anglesey for me next.