Finding the grip limit – at last

A track day on the Silverstone GP circuit, courtesy of the BMW Car Club, gave my coach Malcolm Edeson another opportunity to train me in finding the grip limit and driving to it – a skill that is vital under all conditions for optimal lap times.

After overnight rain, the circuit was both wet and greasy in the morning and never actually dried completely during the day. We swapped from part-worns to brand new Toyo R888s, which did help matters, but it wasn’t until the final few sessions of the day that we were able to really push on. I wasn’t able to be my personal lap record (set in an Elise with Rebecca Jackson goading me from the passenger seat) but nevertheless got within 1 second of Malcolm’s fastest lap – which I was incredibly pleased with. I was also pleased to finally get a feel for when the car reaches the grip limit in corners – where the steering wheel starts to go “light” in your hands.

The day was also an introduction to the Toyota MR2, which I intend to drive in a couple of races of their series in 2013, where I will be hiring from the biggest and best-established team in the series Rogue Motorsport. Like the Boxster, its mid-engine rear-wheel-drive – with power output and weight somewhere between the Lotus Elise (which Malcolm and I have used for tuition on a number of occasions already) and the Boxster that I race. It also runs on the same Toyo R-888 tyres we have on the Boxster, but lacks ABS – so I did manage to lock up the brakes on one occasion, sliding graciously (but harmlessly) off the circuit at the Vale chicane.

Overall the day went extremely well: I did put “4 wheels over” the white line on a few occasions and had a spin onto the grass after the turn in to Luffield, but I did learn a lot more about car control. I can’t wait to get out there again!