With my first-ever races at Thruxton fast approaching – and no free practice available on the Friday or even on the Saturday morning – I hunted in vain for a track day where I could drive the circuit for the first time ever and learn the lines. With no track days available, I took the second best option of some laps and tuition with the Thruxton Motorsport Centre in one of their cars. I really wanted one of their Porsche Caymans given it would have the same mid-engine setup and similar weight as my race Boxster, but with those already booked, I chose a Lotus Exige instead. I have, of course, done much of my early tuition in an Elise so would not have to loose much time learning a new car – in fact I had even driven an Exige before, coached by ex-F1 driver Ian Ashley at Silverstone.
With almost any instructor, this would have been valuable experience but the icing on the cake was that my instructor turned out to be David Hornsey, who has previously raced in the BRSCC Porsche Championship (from where I graduated) and is an expert on race car handling (see his book Race & Trackday Driving Techniques). With the course lasting just two sets of 6 laps, we wouldn’t have a huge amount of time to learn the lines but with David’s coaching I soon had my foot to the floor around this very fast circuit – a track that requires smooth handling with no straights to speak off and some challenging long, off-camber corners.
Although we drove the race line, David also pointed out areas that could cause problems if we have rain next Saturday – apparently always a risk with this circuit. Even though my speeds improved in our wet races at Donington, I think I’d rather it stay dry!