So, anyway, yeah, My radical day out.
It was utterly fantastic from the very beginning to the end.
Sascha from the Classic Throttle Shop picked me up at the airport, in a 1973 911 S Targa, 2.4. One of 4 apparently, it was lovely. Cute ski rack bars on the roof. I don't think this service was part of the booking, but it was very nice to get!
He drove me out to the track and we got there about 11.30. I booked a half day trial, but was flexible in the timings so was hoping to get going asap and leave early. It turned out that wasn't possible but I spent the time before lunch absorbing and watching who was who and what was what.
It was a "driving solutions" day. So basically, almost all track cars only ( I saw 3 road cars). There were a dozen Radicals being run, and 2 of the Moslers from GT, and a 997 Cup S , and a couple of 360 Challenge etc etc. But it was a calm open pit lane day.... no rules... just go out when you like for as long as you like, with or without passengers.
I was to drive an older model Blue one. They're all basically the same, but newer ones have a higher nose and high downforce aero package. My one had the high DF wing, but none of the front end stuff to go with it. My one had the paddle shift conversion.
Me, being me, I looked over it, and decided the tyres were crap and the seat was too close. They politely declined to change the tyres (front right was grained) but moved the seat no problem. The cars are privately owned, so you can't be too pushy about what to expect.
I was presented with Niel Mcfadyen (sp) instructor. He briefed me on the controls, which are all pretty straight forward. I was told to shift on the second green shift light.
So I borrow a helmet and suit from the drive day organiser, and put on my new driving boots I went out and bought the day before (was getting excited!).
Neil says just go and do a lap or two and well see how it goes. There was an intercom, but I couldn't really hear much while lapping at speed. Too much ambient noise from his mic.
So, off I go, out of pit lane... picturing flameys lap on the 360 for my prompts to turn! I've been around as passeneger in a few cars, but not for 2 years and only for a lap at a time.
I build up to speed, the tyres come on pretty quickly. I do a couple of laps and then I have a slow spin at the hairpin after corporate hill.. Just holding on to the brake too long and gear shifting one too many. No drama, sort it out and away again. I came in and the timing screen said 1.44.2.
I as pretty happy with that as a sighting run to learn the track. I was lifting for turn one, and wasting lots of time at turn 4. Other than that, just generally a little slow and steady all over.
So I go out again, this time I'm determined to go flat through turn 1 and get under 1.40.... Having a good run out the last corner gets you up to 137 mph down the main straight... 220km/h... In the open air that's well fast enough to lift your helmet up an inch or two and buffet you around abit.... add to that the engine screaming with all the shift lights on as you pass the finish line, the car feeling positiively planted with all the downforce (despite the low DF front end and what I thought were crap tyres).... having the balls NOT to lift the throttle takes some effort... but I did it... and WOW, whata rush... T1 is slightly down hill, so the turning doesn't scrub off any speed at all, it took all the upper body strength I have to hold the turn... the steering loads right up and the over 2 G of cornering grip is amazing... then the run to turn 2 is still quite a way to go...
you arrive at t2 at VMAX, then you don't press the brake, or step on the brake, or squeeze the brake... you SMASH it, as hard as you can... the speed disappears and you stop the car while maintaining a little turn in to get to the tricky corner.... wow, that was a rush... full throttle for about 20 and VMAX for about 10 seconds...
the rest of the lap is equally exciting... T4 tricked me... i didn't get it right all day... I kept exiting too tight wasting maybe 1 second over just 2 corners.... I could hear noise on the intercom but couldn't make out what he was saying...
Corporate Hill is another mega place.... turn in very early and nail the throttle, turn at over 2 g for 3 seconds or more, then full power while turning still until IMMEDIATELY straighten it up at the same time as SMASHING the brake again..... just one split second too early on the brake and you have a big woopsie.... I had one spin here at about 100mp/h that was qquite exciting!
Anyway, I ended up doing 44 laps. I had the 65kg instructor with me all the time. I knew his instruction was worth more than the weight saving if he got out. My best officially timed lap got down to a 1.37.7. The best in any radical on the day was a 1.33.5, but that was a newer car with one driver, light fuel and good tyres.
After 4pm, the timing was turned off, and I did another session... I got t4 MUCH better and also improved generally, Neil said he thought it may have been a 1.36, possibly even a 1.35. I think 1.36 at best. He thinks 65kg is worth over a second and the tyres were well gone too.... but not as bad as I thought they looked.... you NEVER truly appreciate how much grip a good slick can give you until you've driven hard on them.... it's just mind blowing.
At the very end, I got Neil to drive me for a few laps... I was knackered, my arms and chest were aching so badly by now.
Neil did 2 flying laps, his best was a 1.34.5, timed by sascha on the pit wall. He changed the brake bias towards the front... I'd had 3 spins all from braking problems, so that felt reassuring to know it wasn't ALL my fault!
Then I got to go home! Sasch took me back to CTS, then I had to get a train to the airport as traffic was so backed up.. (I hate sydney).
All in all I was super happy with the day. My $2k was well spent, I had amazing fun AND learned heaps and heaps from Neil.