Supercar Experience – Dunsfold

For Christmas I was lucky enough to be given a Five Supercar Taster event at Dunfold Airfield, where Top Gear is filmed. I’m always a bit skeptical of these events so thought I’d summarise the day for you 🙂

To start the communications and documents received aren’t consistent. Booked on trackdays.co.uk, but experience with Driving Experiences and waiver and directions from Everyman Racing. No idea who is actually running this event…

Arrive an hour early as per the recommendations, lots of signs for Driving Experiences pointing you in the right direction to the car park. There’s a minibus hanging around the car park, which takes us across to the main site in the middle of Dunfold Airfield. Went straight to sign on and signed in, filled in the Everyman Racing sign on form….got the normal sales spiel you get at these events about Damage Waivers and buying videos packages etc but they weren’t pushy and just took no for an answer which is refreshing.  They handed over the Everyman Racing printed form with the cars you’ve signed up for and the times that you’ll be driving each one.

I headed over to the safety briefing before taking part in the event and to be honest the briefing didn’t really help explain the track layout, they only talked about how awesome the cars are and to listen to the instructor in the car with you. It would’ve been more helpful if there was a big diagram of the track or maybe even a video played of someone driving the track? Due to not knowing the track I signed up for some demo laps which involved one of the instructors taking a few of us out in a Skoda Octavia and doing 2 laps of the track, giving us an overview of the track and what the cones were etc. This really is something that should be explained in the safety briefing and not an additional extra I have to purchase for £10 (apparently it’s usually £20 though!!).

After the demo laps my first car wasn’t due for another half hour, so I hung around for a bit and watched people going out. There isn’t really anywhere sheltered and on a cold windy day, you’re going to get cold!! So make sure you wrap up warm. It is an airfield after all, so probably always going to be windy here.

First car up was the Ariel Atom, I was a bit worried about this being my first car and this was the main reason for signing up for the demo laps, I wanted to have an idea of where I was going before heading out in the Atom. I got strapped into the car and the instructor explained the different hand signals he was going to use and that we would only be using 4th and 5th gear out on the track. I popped the helmet on, put it into 2nd gear and pulled away. I assume we’re being gentle on the gearbox. The Atom drives like a kart and with the raw inputs from the steering and throttle it really is a great car to drive. You’re only supposed to change gear when you get told but I naturally tried to shift down into 3rd going into a chicane and got told off for that. You’re allowed to go full throttle on the straights which is a great experience but you’re not allowed to corner at any decent speed, which to be honest is the bit I really enjoy. You really get to know the car braking hard and taking a corner at speed, but I guess the cars have to be protected and this would be where accidents would occur. On the taster experience you get two laps, an out lap and an in lap, so you don’t really get to build up any proper rhythm in the car.

2nd car – Ferrari F430 Spider. I’ve never driven one of these before but I was shocked to see a cheap JVC stereo fitted in there, took me back to working in Halfords many many years ago!! I wasn’t particularly fond of the Ferrari it felt a bit clunky, the gear changes weren’t very smooth and whilst it was of course fast in a straight line I wasn’t particularly impressed.

3rd car – Porsche 911 997 Turbo. Bit different to the Ferrari, it doesn’t have flappy paddle gear shifters but buttons on the steering wheel. With only two laps I didn’t really get comfortable with the gear change, its different to every car I’ve ever driven. It did handle beautifully though and I was allowed to carry some decent speed through the chicane, it felt great!

4th was BMW i8 – apparently the normal i8 was involved in a crash on the motorway so we had a convertible i8. Instructor showed me how to adjust the seat to get comfortable, first time someone had checked. I can’t believe how smooth this was compared to the Ferrari and the Porsche. The gear change was silky smooth. Unfortunately I got caught in traffic on both laps in the fast sections and you’re not allowed to overtake unless the car in front indicates that there pulling to the right, none of the instructors seemed to be paying attention this time around so they ruined my 2 laps but I really enjoyed the i8 and would like to have another go sometime.

5th was Nissan GTR, got to be honest, I think the GTR I got to drive has seen better days, brakes were squeaking and something was making a weird noise on slow turns. I think it’s probably taken some abuse over the years.

Summary, there’s quite a lot of waiting around and getting cold. There is a burger van serving some food and drinks but don’t expect anything special. Any spectators you bring are really going to struggle on a cold windy day!

The taster experience “two laps” isn’t really two laps. It’s an out lap and then an in lap. These two laps really aren’t enough, you need a lap or two to get used to the car and you don’t really get into a rhythm with the car. I would definitely recommend upgrading to do more laps if you can afford it. It will make for a much more satisfying day.


Awards Evening

After a long season of course comes the Awards Evening! I picked up my trophies for Overall 2014 Castle Combe Saloon Car Championship Winner and Class D Winner. Then to my surprise I was nominated for the driver of the year award, which I didn’t win but nice to be nominated 🙂

I won’t be returning to racing next year but I’ll of course be around at the circuit and probably visit a few track days. The Lupo has now sold to an ex marshall at Combe who will be returning with it for the 2015 season!

awards_evening_2014

awards_evening_2014_driver

Photos courtesy of Tracksideimages

October 4th – Castle Combe Grand Finals – Round 9

Having won the championship last round I guess the pressure was off but of course I still wanted to win! Forecast was rain for the morning and sun for the afternoon and again the forecast was right!! (can’t believe it!!)

Qualifying
Quite a wet Qualy and lots of understeer in Quarry and oversteer in Tower but I got a half decent lap in early on then struggled with a few other cars in the way and managed a final fast lap of 1:36.118 and put it on class pole nearly half a second up on Adrian Slade who would be lining up behind me on the grid in his Green MG ZR.

Race – First Start – Red Flagged
Thankfully the sun came out and dried the track up. I got a brilliant start, the lights went out almost immediately as the last one lit up and I think it caught a few people off guard and I managed to pass a few of the bigger cars in front. Coming into the Esses I saw a large plume of smoke and coming out of the Esses was presented with Mark Wyatt facing the wrong way in his Astra! I followed Tony Dolley in the Orange 206 to the left and stuck behind him. As we completed the first lap the red flags came out and as we got back to the Esses the worst had happened. Arthur Marks in his Suzuki Swift had gone head on with Wyatt’s Astra. Seeing the cars smashed up like that and Arthur sat slouched in his completely destroyed Swift really makes you think about what can happen. Thankfully both drivers are ok and Arthur stayed over night in hospital but was released in the morning, bruised and sore I’m sure, but making a swift recovery.

Race
Didn’t get such a good start this time but still in the class lead and I formed up behind Geoff Ryall in his 106. I noticed we pulled a decent gap to the guys behind after the first lap and then managed to pass Geoff into Tower. I was hoping to be able to close up on Rod Apperly in front and have a little race but he was too fast for me 🙂 Rod pulled a gap in front and there was a decent gap behind me for the rest of the race. It was probably the most serene race of the year for me!

So Castle Combe Saloon Champion for 2014!! I can’t quite believe it. I think this was probably my best years racing. I’ve had some great racing with the guys in my class and there’s been some good battles with others. And best of all its all been clean racing! I’ve had a brilliant year and I can’t thank everyone that’s helped me enough, and of course thank you to all the Marshalls that volunteer their time to allow us to race, the incident on Saturday really drives it home that we couldn’t do it without you. An extra special thank you to my brother Jay for all his help, I wouldn’t have been able to do it all without you!!

round9

Final Overall Championship Points (after dropped points)
1. David Rose 85
2. Tony Hutchings 81
3. Tony Dolley 80
4. Carl Loader 73
5. Rodney Apperly 68

Class D Points
1. Dave Rose 85
2. Arthur Marks 65
3. Chris Morris 55
4. Russell Poynter-Brown 36

August 25th 2014 Race Day – Round 8

Well the forecast for this race was rain and we certainly got it! I’d also figured out with the help of a spreadsheet that if I got 10 points this race I’d win the championship!! So either win the class or come 2nd with fastest lap, so of course the goal was to win.

Qualifying
As I said the rain certainly delivered and we had a very wet qualification. The car wasn’t as planted as previous wet days and I was getting a lot of understeer however I managed to put it on pole (just) and would be starting alongside Adrian Slade in his MG ZR.

The Race –
Just as we went out to race we had a nice downpour and it continued for the whole race.

I got a half decent start and made up a few cars but was really struggling to get any grip and dropped back a few places after the first lap, losing my 1st place in class. I saw Adrian driving off into the distance as I battled with the MG ZR of Annie King and BMW of Kevin Bird. After a few laps I found some grip and managed to pass them both after some good racing. I then noticed I was starting to gain on Adrian and 2 laps from the end I managed to pass coming into Camp. Adrian kept right behind me and whilst I was pulling away out of the corners he was right back with me under braking. We crossed the line very close together but I’d done it!!! First in class and securing the championship and class for 2014!!!

round8autosport

August Summer Race Day – Round 7

First Race – Red Flagged (twice)https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=SOnWKTTH9Ck

Forecast was for this to be a wet one (at last!) and for once the forecast was right. We had heavy rain for qualifying and I managed 8th overall on the grid and 2nd in class with Adrian Slade in his MG in front. The car didn’t feel as good as it has done in the wet before and it was stepping out all over the place.

For the race the rain started to come down again. I got a lot of wheel spin off the line but managed to hold position and slotted in behind Kevin Bird in his BMW. The other Lupo ended up in the wall at Old Paddock and after several laps under the safety car the race was red flagged to repair the barrier and clear up.

On the restart, again loads of wheel spin but managed to keep position and this time managed to get passed Adrian into quarry as Akers and Scaramanga had an incident sending Akers into the barriers. Again behind Kevin as we cross the start/finish line with the Red Vauxhall Astra of Julian Ellison close behind. Then as we went through Folly the backed slid out and I had a big slide into the field. As I came back onto the track the red flags were out due to the Akers/Scaramanga crash. The race was then delayed till the end of the day at 6:10 🙁

The Racehttps://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5WtUFDAFch0

After a long day of hanging around and not sure if we’ll get a race or not (due to the 6:30pm curfew at Castle Combe) we were eventually called up and told we’d race till a few minutes before the curfew.

Not my best start but I managed to keep position with only Julian Ellison coming flying past in his Astra VXR. I lined up behind Adrian into Quarry and kept tight to him for the next lap and made a move around the outside into Camp and made it stick. Geoff Ryall in his 106 was gaining quickly behind me and passed me and then I had a relatively straight forward race. I could see Adrian and Arthur Marks in the mirror battling which allowed me some space and the race only lasted 7 laps due to the delays. So another class win and a fastest lap giving me 11 points and allowing me to extend my championship lead and class lead 🙂

round_7

Overall Championship Points (drop score in brackets)
1. David Rose 73 (64)
2. Tony Dolley 69 (60)
2. Tony Hutchings 60 (60) (second equal on drop scores)
4. Arthur Marks 59 (52)
5. Carl Loader 51 (51)

Class D Points
1. Dave Rose 73 (64)
2. Arthur Marks 59 (52)
3. Chris Morris 42 (42)
4. Russell Poyter-Brown 36 (36)

Thanks to Trackside Images for the Photo – http://www.tracksideimages.uk.com/

July Double Header at Retro Race Weekend

The first double header of the year and slap bang in the middle of the season. This one could make / break the whole championship battle and class battle!

Saturdayhttps://www.youtube.com/watch?v=UCOB1aFvzlQ

I qualified in 3rd with a time of 1:22.675, just behind Adrian Slade (MG ZR) – 1:22.640 and Russell Poynter-Brown (Vauxhall Corsa) 1:22.389. All very close and starting next to each on the grid and with Arthur Marks (Suzuki Swift) behind us with 1:22.839.

I got a good start and managed to get straight up into pole position up into Quarry but Arthur Marks managed to get down the inside of me before the Esses. I followed for a few laps, with Russell close behind and he managed to get down the outside of me into Camp, due to a better run out of Bobbies. I then didn’t expect Russell to stop so quickly braking over the rise and put the car into a spin and managed to (just!!) miss everyone and collect it and get going again. I managed to catch back up to Russell and Arthur after a few laps and eventually made it past Arthur taking him around the outside at Old Paddock 1 lap before the end and finished 2nd in class. Overall it was a good race but frustrating that I probably had the pace finish up front in class. Still 9 points collected!

Sundayhttps://www.youtube.com/watch?v=k8Nhfuy1fI8

Again qualified in 3rd (grr!) this time Arthur Marks put his Swift in 1st with a 1:23.008, Russell in 2nd with 1:23.082 and me in 3rd with 1:23.157. Again all very close!!

Got another good start and up into 2nd behind Arthur. There were several other cars around us this time including Annie King, Paul Gradner, Geoff Ryall and Kieren Simmons. It was all very close racing for a few laps and I could see things escalating with a few people rubbing each other etc and the inevitable happened and Geoff Ryall (Peugeot 106) came together with Annie King (MG ZR) and Annie went into the wall at Camp. This compromised Arthur’s run and I squeezed past him before the safety car came out.

I got a rubbish restart after the Safety Car and Arthur was all over me for a bit before he started to get hassle from Geoff Ryall and he dropped back a bit. I put in my 3 fastest laps of the race and managed to pull a bit of a gap and take home the class win and the fastest lap for a nice 11 points!

Overall it was a great weekend with some very close racing and I thoroughly enjoyed it and managed to put in my PB of 1:21.993! I’m sure the car can go faster though 🙂

Winners Car 13th July 2014

Overall Championship Points

Dave Rose 62
Tony Dolley 60
Carl Loader 51

Class D Points
Dave Rose 62
Arthur Marks 50
Chris Morris 42

Howards Day 21st April 2014

We had our first race of the year on Easter Bank Holiday Monday. This race day is dedicated to Howard Strawford who sadly passed away last year.

Qualifying was going ok, just getting used to the car after 6 months off but on the 2nd flying lap the car dived to the left on turning into Camp Corner. It took me completely by surprise and I didn’t react quick enough to power through it. I touched the wet grass and the car headed for the tyre wall, I was a bit of a passenger here but somehow I escaped a full impact with the wall and I just had a single scratch down the side of the car (from a bolt holding the tyres together I assume!). Phew! I wasn’t immediately sure what was going on and I took it easy but kept being thrown to the left. I did my laps and came in. I managed a mid 1:25 which managed to put me on pole for the class and 22nd overall.

We had a play with the tracking on the pits and made sure everything was tight but we couldn’t see anything obviously wrong.

Race Video: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pA59r7zolaI

As you can see from the video, I managed to get quite a good launch. A few of the faster cars from behind then overtook over the next lap or two and I could see Kelly williams in her Fiesta gaining. We then had a good little battle over a few laps. She had the better straight line speed but I seemed to have her through the back of the circuit. She eventually made her way past going into the Esses and I kept with her, then upon lapping a few back markers I managed to retake the position. Then after being lapped by the leaders Kelly dropped back a little more and I was pretty much alone after that. I managed to improve my qualifying time to a mid 1:23 but being a bit rusty from 6 months off there’s definitely better times to come!

We’ll be back in 2 weeks for the next round!! 🙂

podium

2013 Season

Well it’s nearly time for the 2013 season and there’s been a few changes. Our championship is now called National Windscreens Saloon Car Championship and there is an increase in the upper capacity limit to 3.4 litres. Turbo co-efficiency is now at 1.7 so 2 litre turbo cars are still competitive in there class. Success ballast has also been introduced in all classes.

Race Dates

Monday 1st April – Howard’s Day Easter Monday Race Meeting
Monday 6th May – Motors TV 2013 Live Race Day
Monday 27th May – Spring Bank Holiday Race Day
Sat/Sun 15th-16th June – Wessex Chambers Race Meeting
Sat/Sun 13th-14th July – Retro Race Weekend
Sat 3rd August – Summer Race Day
Monday 26th August – August Bank Holiday Monday Race Day
Sat 5th October – Castle Combe Grand Finals Race Day

Final Race of 2012 – First Class WIN!!!!

As some of you may have seen on Facebook and Twitter, I managed to win my class on Sunday 😀

Qualifying Fastest Lap – http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=TRE893Y6lNM
The Race – http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=E9bFWWRKF6c

I qualified in 2nd just a tenth behind 1st and we were lined up next to each other on the grid. I had a few gear selection issues during qualifying which turned out to be because my clutch had fully un-adjusted itself and I was a little low on gearbox oil so topped that up at the same time…

The Race
I got a pretty good start and managed to get into first in class pretty much straight away and with a bit of luck Russell getting blocked by others. Had a little tap with Paul Ashton into Quarry on the 2nd lap…after that it was pretty free running, I could see Russell starting to catch me behind but he made a mistake out of camp which put him back to a safe distance! Apart from that I was getting pretty frustrated behind the orange Polo that obviously had huge amounts of power but wasn’t too great in the corners…he locked up going into the Esses and I misjudged my braking/turn in and ended up on the grass myself but kept infront and Dave Challenger came past shortly after in his white Leon, but after a bit of confusion with the fire car I think I passed on the braking point into Quarry and managed to keep it infront and then only really had to deal with being lapped by a few others and the carnage that was presenting itself around the track!! Then went out for a ride on the winners car and stand up on the podium 😀

Was a great end to the season and makes all the effort we put in worth it!! Want to say a special thanks to my brother Jay for helping me out all year, couldn’t do it without him!!

Round 8 Race Report 22nd July

We had a warm up session in the morning which was good to do after the previous days off road outings, just to make sure everything was holding up.

Went to start the race and realised my camera wasn’t working. Must’ve accidentally pressed the power button in the bag and drained the battery 🙁 I was starting from the back as the 2nd race is the previous races finishing order so 26th on the grid (I wasn’t the first to drop out lol) and 7th in class. I immediately took about 7 cars off the line and was up about 12 positions after Quarry and dropped a few before the lap was out, so crossed the line in 16th and 3rd in Class. I was closing in on the battle ahead with Russell Akers in his Astra (in my class) and Paul Ashton and after getting my head down to catch up I put in a new PB of 1:22.788 and caught right up to Russell. We were being lapped at the time and he ran a little wide at Quarry and I managed to get down the inside of him (2nd!!) and put a little gap between us however a back marker then held me up going into the Esses so he was right back on my bumper 🙁 I made a few mistakes as I was too busy watching Russell behind me as he’s much better under braking and a lap later after a mistake at the Esses he managed to pull alongside me going into Tower and outdid me on the brakes. I was gaining on him in most places but under braking I just couldn’t pull it off, going into Camp in the last corner I went to the inside and Russell moved over to defend so I went back to the outside but we were both where we didn’t really want to be and Russell ran a little wide out of camp but managed to keep the position and I finished 0.4 secs behind him!

It was a great race for me, especially with a new PB into the 1:22’s and tussling with Russell. All clean racing as well which makes for a good day for all!!