This was the first time I had visited Rockingham Motor Speedway for an actual track day. I had been to the venue three times before, all for car control days, one, in particular, being a Learn2Drift day run by Andy Arnott.
The morning started with the car lift for the lorry playing up… that’s sod’s law, when you need to get your car out on the track. So we had to do the sighting laps in my Dad’s Mk3. After the sighting laps were complete, I was ready to finally get out on track in the race car. I had my new tyres fitted and my seat adjusted so I was raring to go, especially after a wet and dull Brands where I couldn’t fully exploit the car’s characteristics.
So, I jumped in, had a quick pep talk with Ali Bray from AB Motorsport, and headed out on to the Rockingham track. The car felt… awesome. The balance through certain sections such as Chapman Curve and Pif Paf was particularly exciting and extremely fun to nail. When the car did step out sideways I was completely comfortable with it doing so as I’d done some drifting days beforehand; the car was so well balanced. I came back into the pits and raved to Ali how much I’d enjoyed my first few proper laps in the car.
As the morning passed I got more and more used to how the car handled and was really driving it on the limit. Throughout the day, I was working on perfecting my heel and toe technique; it requires a little more effort than my road car. We then decided in the late morning to get the GoPro fitted that I had received for Christmas (Thanks, Pete!). With the GoPro on and recording, I found myself pushing a little bit harder. Then lunch came, and I sat and contemplated how the day was going so far and how it could improve.
After lunch, I went out again for a short stint as Ali wanted to come out with me in the driver’s seat to see where I was at. After a few laps with Ali in the passenger seat, we came back in, he said how impressed he was with how quickly I’d picked it up, but also could be a little more committed in some corners, and also be in a lower gear for Yentwood and Gracelands. After our chat, Ali jumped in the driver’s seat, with me now in the passenger seat. I remember him specifically saying ‘right, I’m going to try and scare him now’. Ali very much showed me what the car was capable of, being very committed through all sections on the track.
Subsequently, after my experience of Ali throwing everything at the track with the MX-5, I went out and tried to channel my inner Ali Bray (which required the suspension of sanity) and really gave my all towards the end of the day. During my last session, I was catching up with another MX-5 Championship spec MX-5. I saw this and knew I had to overtake it, especially with the GoPro running. I ended up overtaking the fellow MX-5 on the straight after being close in the infield. This was a fitting end to the day as I felt I’d made significant headway in getting to grips (and sometimes not…) with the car.
We packed our stuff up and had a wrap-up discussion with Jack Sycamore and Ali. We concluded that it was a great day. I’m looking forward to the next track day at Snetterton on Sunday 4th March.