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Chris M Wanted a V-10

The Single Seater experience

As mentioned in the "Test Driven - Gallardo Superleggera" thread, today was the day of redemption of younger daughter's 2015 combined Christmas and birthday present to me from last year.... the Formula Renault (FR) single-seater drive.  About a dozen punters lined up to drive various supercars and 3 of us to give that a miss and drive a isngle seater FR car.  They started off with 7 of them but are down to 3 due to previous "offs", and there was just one available today so we had to take it in turns.... they never allowed more than 3 cars onto the track at any one time anyway and there was only one designated place where overtaking was permitted.  The track was mainly bends with a couple of very short straights.... probably under a mile in total length.  I'd not really checked to see what the package was but we started off with all 3 of us for the FR drive in an M3 and the instructor showing us the lines, braking points etc.... 4 laps of this.  Each experience was then 4 laps to acclimatise and 10 laps to give it as much as you wanted.  A full face helmet had to be worn, first time I'd done this and with spectacles it's not that easy to fit into the helmet.....

Due to the apparent difficulties in getting a racing car off the line (their record was 48 attempts by one customer before a successful getaway was reached!), starting was by being pushed by a quad bike, then drop the clutch and give it some beans.... car was in 3rd gear and was to remain in that gear all the time.  If you stalled, stay in the car and wait for another push.  Much as I was concerned about this, I had no issues and was away without difficulty and wondering just what to expect....

I really could not get confident with the brakes.... very little feel to the pedal and with all the pedals so close together it was often hard to tell if you were firmly on the brake pedal or pushing it and the accelerator at the same time (they had warned us about this in the briefing).  They also mentioned that the steering was affected by bumps and camber chances........ no kidding, I had to hang on for grim life. Every bump, every change of camber had the car trying to dart right or left. You had to maintain a very firm grip on the very small wheel at all times.  We had also been told to use the kerbs (painted red and white, like real racetrack ones).  I reckon I was probably the slowest around the circuit but I didn't stall, spin or go off.  14 laps in total gives you a great time to settle in and appreciate just what the real racers go through.  Towards the end I was trying out the acceleration under full throttle and perhaps just stressing the brakes a little, but utmost respect to those who do this for a living. You certainly need strong finger muscles !  If you miss an apex (each was roughly marked by a red traffic cone), you really notice the subsequent effect on speed through the next few corners after having to "over-brake" to correct your line through a corner.

All of us were out for enjoyment today so no heroics, no offs or spins. I didn't stall the FR but one of the others did, and not just once.....

And then I paid for a go in the Gallardo..... all in all, an excellent day.
Photos of me in the FR will be sent by e-mail within 10 days apparently.  And if you want to experience a single-seat racer for the first time, I can recommend this experience wholeheartedly
Bryan M

It sounds like you had a great time Chris, the starting push procedure seems bizzare - maybe they want to save their clutch!
JohnC

The "keeping it in 3rd all the way" is probably why they push start the cars, so that people don't even get to touch the gear lever. I dare say that there is the risk of an inexperienced driver going from 4th to 1st by mistake so they are just keeping their machinery safe.

When I was 19 or 20 I was bought a Formula Ford morning at Knockhill and they had a rule that the max revs were 4,000 and once you were in 4th (I think) you left it there. I came away totally dissatisfied because I was on the 4,000 rev limit before I was half way up the main straight and just after the old Clark corner on the back straight. I ended up changing down at the hairpin and getting a bit sideways on exit, for excitement and got a warning flag as a consequence. Tom Brown, who ran the school was not a man to mess with!
Stuntman

JohnC wrote:
The "keeping it in 3rd all the way" is probably why they push start the cars, so that people don't even get to touch the gear lever. I dare say that there is the risk of an inexperienced driver going from 4th to 1st by mistake so they are just keeping their machinery safe.

When I was 19 or 20 I was bought a Formula Ford morning at Knockhill and they had a rule that the max revs were 4,000 and once you were in 4th (I think) you left it there. I came away totally dissatisfied because I was on the 4,000 rev limit before I was half way up the main straight and just after the old Clark corner on the back straight. I ended up changing down at the hairpin and getting a bit sideways on exit, for excitement and got a warning flag as a consequence. Tom Brown, who ran the school was not a man to mess with!


I had a few laps in a Formula Renault single seater at Thruxton in 2004 and they also were rev limited to such a degree that if you were a half-decent circuit driver you actually didn't need to brake anywhere, including the chicane at the end of Woodham Hill.  The car was superbly responsive but equally frustrating.  I suspect the organisers learn the hard way and then set the rev limiter near the lowest common denominator.
PhilD

Sounds like fun! No muscles in fingers btw...
Boxer6

JohnC wrote:
 Tom Brown, who ran the school was not a man to mess with!


He wasn't a man to mess with when he was racing either as I recall - a hard man in an era of hard men.
JohnC

Boxer6 wrote:
JohnC wrote:
 Tom Brown, who ran the school was not a man to mess with!


He wasn't a man to mess with when he was racing either as I recall - a hard man in an era of hard men.


I think there were 3 or 4 F words in his first sentence.

I do remember he said "If you want to go fucking sideways get a fucking rally car"
Roadsterstu

Sounds like great fun Chris, glad you enjoyed it!

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