So, I accidentally hired a Caterham R300 at Brands Hatch over the weekend. I had gone to Brands to see Grubby and Caroline as Steve was taking out his SuperSnot onto the track.
He had foolishly offered me a drive in the car and I was totally up for seeing what that beast could do on the track. I happened to ask Jonny at Bookatrack whether they had any spare cars at the track – fully expecting him to say no… but sadly for my credit card, he said I could use the spare car!
About 1 second of careful consideration later, I’d handed over my credit card and headed to the driver briefing.
As well as Steve and Caroline, there were some of the 2015 Caterham Academy contingent in attendance having hired out and Academy car for some early track practice.
It was great chatting to them and feeling the excitement of the unknown that they are approaching fast!
It was damp early on after overnight drizzle – but the sun shone hard all day and it dried out pretty quickly.
Unfortunately, after this run out on track, I managed to trip the drive by sensor for noise and the only way to continue was with reduced revs. This did rather blunt the performance of the car but it was still great fun. Round the Brands Indy circuit, it just meant I had loads more gear changes to make!
I took out 3 of the Academists for a quick passenger ride. They all seemed to enjoy the experience. Just a taste of what they have in store over the next couple of years! Looking back at the video after, with the reduced revs and colder track I was only turning in laps 1.5s faster than the Academy race times! It does feel a whole lot faster though with all the gear changes and the engine noise.
My final treat for the day was Steve coming through on his offer for a drive in the SuperSnot.
I’ve been a passenger in the car before on the road and have been suitably impressed (dare I say, scared!) And now, I had the keys and permission to have fun. This was the car that Steve and I had headed over to Brands Hatch back in 2012 to watch an Academy race, not long after we’d signed up for the 2013 season. And now, I was going to drive it.
It was suitably epic! The noise alone is spectacular. It’s also extremely well screwed together. The engine is a master piece, the gearbox is solid and setup is extremely balanced. The only things that soften the experience are the road seats – which just don’t offer the required support you need – and a fading brake pedal.
I didn’t stay out long. A sizeable moment coming out of Graham Hill bend was enough for me to remember this wasn’t my car and it should be returned in one piece!
The day ended with a golden hour to beat all golden hours. There were 3 BAT cars out on track all circulating fast and it was just like an exclusive test session. Lap after glorious lap. I think I may have circulated for a good 45 mins before finally, reluctantly, handing the car back over to the BAT team.
It hopefully wont be too long before the cheesemobile is in Tracksport spec and I can get out on track and start to learn my new steed. I’m certainly counting down the days.