On the 14th of March I went to Brands Hatch, Kent for the Ginetta Media day. This was my first trip to a circuit in 2017 and it was great to get back to a track!
The day started with a welcome from the new in post Commercial Director Nick Portlock… we were warned those taking the chance of a passenger ride in the G55 where Michael Simpson was driving may see their coffee and croissant’s again!
Looking around the room there were some familiar faces including Daily Sports Cars Graham Goodwin, Ford Chip Ganassi Team UK’s Andy Priaulx and photographer Jakob Ebrey (sporting many cameras!). After a quick visit to Race Control and sign-on I was equipped with a snazzy media tabard – you know the ones that get you everywhere (pretty much) – so with camera in hand I went off to explore the legendary Brands Hatch.
Besides being the media day, the 14th was also a test day for Ginetta drivers old and young alike. Out on track was to be found the GT4 G55’s which were being punctuated by the impressive G57 Prototype. Group photo time just being a swarm of G40’s heading out on track, such names as Priaulx and Collard (Jnr!) behind the wheel brought more photo opportunities for myself - it was great to get back into the swing of things!
Now for the part I had been nervously waiting for… my turn to drive Brands Hatch in a Ginetta!!! Last to go out of the group – this was my cunning plan to get more track time - I levered my 6’ 1” frame into the G40, pushed the seat back and found that yes, I do fit! Jordan Sanders was my instructor for my time behind the wheel. After brief introductions, and the knowledge that I had driven a Formula Ford around Stowe, we set off down the pit lane and onto track. Hold on now….. where does the road go at Paddock Hill??!! My tall frame and the G40’s sun strip made it impossible for me to see up the track to Druids until I was at the bottom of paddock… this made it ‘interesting’.
My first lap I took as an install, get used to the car, feel and the brakes and power, the noise and smells (me or Jordan, not sure!), then down the start/finish straight we were in 4th… what’s that Jordan… just ease off into paddock… and aim for the kink by the gravel trap…OK then… WOW that was fun. Into Druids in 2nd, off towards the Cooper Straight, nothing behind and using the whole track – it seemed my plan of going last was paying off. Into Clearways and again towards Paddock, this time in 5th, no time to look at the speedo but certainly using all the revs available to me this time, down to 4th into Paddock, car moving around now, at the bottom and full power towards Druid, 3rd, tight in and full power out. Jordan’s hand signals were clear and no sign of distress in his voice (I’m assuming…it was quite thunderous in there!) And around we go again, 5 laps completed in short order, time to head for the pits. Slowly down into pit lane to a stop. I thanked Jordan and out he got, rather swiftly.
Now getting out.. well I can tell you what the pit lane looks like up close, and I’m sure Ant Anstead can tell you I did a great impression of a sea lion wriggling around!! If I ever buy one I will need a bigger door opening please Mr Tomlinson!
Thank you Ginetta, a truly great day!