Testing with Team HARD

A part of my planning for next season’s racing I booked myself on a test day with Team HARD who run VW Golf MkVs in the VW Cup. All of the race cars I’ve driven on circuit to date have been mid- or rear-engined with rear drive and having seen the VW Cup races at both Silverstone and Donington this year, I thought I should try a front-engine, front-drive car for a change.

We arrived slightly late at a very damp and murky Brands Hatch thanks to M25 traffic so missed a Kentagon breakfast, but we were soon strapping into the cars for the sighting laps that are compulsory on all MSV track days.

The team ran three cars on the day with only two on track at a time, while the third returned to the paddock to swap drivers. I went out first in one of the left-hand drive cars and I found it very difficult to adapt to the odd driving position, scarily aggressive brakes, offset pedal box and long-stick but short-throw gear change, so wasn’t able to make much progress out on the slowly drying Indy track. Later in the day, all wet tyres had given way to slicks and I got a chance to drive the only right-hand drive car, which I must say was far easier to adapt to.

It only took a few laps of the short and very familiar Indy circuit for me to start pushing on and to feel the characteristic understeer and almost complete lack of oversteer that these cars offer. The turbocharged 2 litre engine really pulls you out of corners and it felt strange to take the Druids hairpin in 3rd against what would be 2nd in my 986 Boxster. I’m happy to say I was able to out-pace all but one car during my second stint of driving.

My thanks to Tony Gilham, Tony’s mum (nice cakes) and the Team HARD mechanics for the opportunity. And best of luck to Tony in his bid to return to the Dunlop MSA British Touring Car grid next season.