:: Brands Hatch Track Day ::
Track Day season is now well and truly upon us and to celebrate in true
Matey-Matey style, we headed down to Brands Hatch in Kent.
Dan (Mk2 1.9 Golf), Charlie (Kawasaki green Caterham graduate race car), Alex (RS2000) and I (Corrado 16v) descended on Brands Hatch for a bit of tyre squealing action, courtesy of BookaTrack.com.
We were going to be sensible and wait until winter passed before arranging any more track days but the cars have been gathering dust (well road grime and frost actually) and our petrol head tendencies got the better of us, so we booked up the day and began fettling. Charlie went out and purchased a set of wet weather Yokohama race tyres (wets so that he could legally use them on the road as well), I fitted some Yoko A539s, Pagid grooved discs and Mintex 1144 pads in place of the old incumbent items and we were ready to go.
The trackday started at 8am with sign on and a drivers briefing before going out on track at 9am. BookaTrack set the day up as a sessioned event splitting the 58 cars into three groups (novices, intermediates, and advanced) so everyone got a 20 minute session every hour throughout the day up to 4pm. This gave everyone plenty of track time, and suited me as I usually get carried away at open pit lane events and stay out for ages which regularly results in some very knackered brakes.
The day was run round the Brands Hatch Indy circuit and those of you who have been there will be familiar with its short kidney shape. It may only be 1.2 miles long, and simple in shape but it is an absolutely awesome track. Not only is it great fun but it is very difficult to master as all the turns are reasonably complex to get right. The cambers and dips need to be experienced to be believed and Paddock Hill must be one of the best corners in the country. The cambered braking zone, followed by blind apex and steep drop off make Brands Hatch an absolute 'must' drive track for this corner alone. Unlike a lot of simple airfield venues, it will take a lot more than one track day to completely master so it is a real test of your learning ability as well as your driving skill.
My line was all over the place in the morning especially through clearways, which I just couldn't seem to get right so between each session there was much chatting to be done with the other attendees in order to try and get some pointers. By lunch time things were improving and I was beginning to get a feel for the circuit and the corners were beginning to flow a bit more.
Unfortunately for Dan, his car developed a coolant fault mid morning which meant an early bath and a trip back home courtesy of the AA. Luckily the damage was minor and traced to a cheap gasket but Dan was gutted to have to call it an early day on such a great track. I suppose that it just means that we need to organise another day ASAP to make up for it.
The silver lining on this cloud was that Dan's dad then took his supercharged Jag XJR round instead which was a real treat as he used to race motorbikes at Brands in his youth! Unfortunately in the 38 years since he last went round Brands they have changed the layout slightly, which combined with tyres costing £250 per corner, prevented any big luxobarge slidey moments.
All of us improved as the day went on and by 4 o clock we were determined to come back another day and pick up where we left off. I know that there was a lot more to come both from me and my car. I could have braked later and carried more speed through both Paddock and Druids but my general line was there or there abouts. I think that I pretty much wrung as much as I could out of Graham Hill bend but I have a funny feeling that with slightly bigger balls I could dispense with braking into Surtees. Clearways was also coming together by the end but it is such a long bend that any mistake at the start of it punish you heavily in the speed that you can carry onto the straight. I was all too aware of the tyre walls on the turn intoPaddock (without a gravel trap in front of it now) and the one over the brow into Druids so hopefully with a bit more confidence the next Brands Hatch track day will be equally as productive and even faster.
Tip for the day though must be that the Corrado responds very well to trail braking in order to eliminate understeer and provoke the back but do not practice this on the roads for obvious reasons. Charlie rated his new tyres very highly for progessive grip (unlike the old Avons which were all or nothing) and raved about his new aero screen (saves weight and reduces drag) as it allowed him much more top end on the straight. My Yokos were great as were the Mintex pads (which even have some life left in the …shock …horror!) and Pagid discs Alex as always pedalled harder than any of us and really got his RS to dance round the track. Amazingly nothing broke and the car did another full track day at Bedford Autodrome two days later.
The day was our idea of heaven i.e. perfect weather (sunny, dry and cool) lots of awesome cars (Lotus 340R, 911 GT3, Racing Datsun 250Z, Talbot Sunbeam Alpine, 180bhp Nova (?), loads of Caterfields, Sierra Cossie, Audi S4 etc…) and a great track to thrash our own cars round. The day ran smoothly and despite a few people visiting the kitty litter BookaTrack did a great job of minimising stoppages and maximising track time. Driving standards were very good and we even got out own F1 style pit garage which allowed us to ditch the interiors and do intersession maintenance in comfort.
Plans for the rest of the year include Donnington, Brands (again)
Goodwood and any other circuits we can fit in. We have already fixed Dan's
car and so he is raring to go. Charlie has just fitted a high torque
manifold which needs a good shakedown so watch this space for more track day
Goodwood Track Day
If you're new to trackdays, don't forget to check out our handy two part track day preparation guide to ensure your vw can go the distance!
Watch this space!