Sunday, 6 December 2009

Oulton Park : Trackdays.co.uk event : Golf GTI Edition 30





Why

It all started with my wife buying me a £100 voucher for Christmas last year!
This can be used for any type of event, but I’ve already done some 'driving days' this year in a Ferrari 360 and Porsche 997 at Prestwold Hall, but I wanted more control and doing something a bit less 'constrained'.
The previous days were good fun but too short and not enough driving.
I have done small track events in Scotland but reckoned it was time to step it up.
I duly booked the 5th Dec 2009 at Oulton Park as a local track to me.

Sourcing

Track days can be purchased from various vendors.
Mine was from trackdays.co.uk. (run by 'focused events' on the day I went)
[url=http://www.trackdays.co.uk/tracks/oulton_park.htm] >> trackdays.co.uk website << [/url] It was a generic £100 voucher which I topped up to a total cost of £135 for the event I had selected. Saturday, 05 December Oulton Park Island circuit Open Pitlane, 105 db £135.00 Fitting / Preparation

Given it’s a serious circuit it would be foolish not to consider preparing to some extent for an event that has safety implications and is going to be very hard on you and your car.

[url=http://www.mk5golfgti.co.uk/forum/index.php?topic=8957.0] >> preparing for trackday << [/url] [url=http://www.mk5golfgti.co.uk/forum/index.php?topic=5121.0] >> trackday and ‘ring insurance << [/url] [i]Brakes [/i] I have various posts on the forum asking about track day brakes! After much deliberation I had decided on Pagid Blue pads for my 312mm std GTI brakes. then a week before I reread all the info again thanks DaveB and TonyD, and common sense got the better of me. I called DaveB and we did a deal on S3 front brakes. These were fitted by ADS Preston and would have a weeks bed in before Oulton. I considered this a longer term solution to remove a limitation of the GTI brakes esp as I have a remap. I really wanted twin piston 'fancy' calipers but the other half said no. And to be fair I would really spend the extra an an intake [i]Trackday insurance[/i] You wil not be covered by your normal insurance. By far the best bet seems to be Greenlight, who allow an extra £50 each time for full cover ! I just couldn’t get anywhere near to this. Greenlight won’t quote for my postcode, so I was stuck. Various quotes varied from £150 to £250 for track cover, with excesses of 10% of the value of the car. Heres the cheapest I could get from www.Moris.co.uk Premium: £148.50 Excess: £1920.00 Optional Extensions Tick if Required 1. Vehicle Recovery: £14.50 2. Personal Accident:£5.00 3. Insurance of Your Excess £57.60 Policy Premium Admin Fee: £5.95 Total Due (inc. Tax): £154.45 ! In the end I weighed up the risks but on this occasion I chose to to do the day with none. This worried me more than a bit, and probably made me drive more carefully (for the first lap at least lol) For multiple days I intend to get some. Knowing it was going to be wet didnt settle my nerves either. TonyD helped a lot with a calming PM :smiley: Usual checks : tyres , suspension , fluids (oil and water) , brake pad depth left Tyre pressures left unchanged Car in full road spec How the day unfolded ............

got up at 6am
crawled out my pit to go outside and wash the car in the dark!
Peer pressure with knowing TC might appear meant that sleep was secondary to a clean car.
so far so good as its still reasonably warm (not freezing at least anway) and its not raining , the roads were still very damp though.

car nice a shiny after some Megs quick detailer, I head off to Oulton Park and arrive 7:45 am ish.
Its still dark and pretty empty as I drive through the entrance and park up near the restaurant.
Odd to arrive without huge crowds and queues at the entrance gates for things like BSB days.
More like an empty service station………

Small queue for signing on. Already lots of cars in the pit lane garages.
I believe its first come, first served, so if you get there early enough you can bag a prime spot.
Would be cool on a group day to have a pile of Mk5’s lined up for a garage group shot.

You need both parts of your driving licence and in exchange you get a red wrist band (licence/payment details confirmed) and a large white sticker to be placed on your windscreen for the duration of the day.
Sign on is between 7.30 and 8.20 , any later and you are bumped into a later session = missing track time.
I head inside and grab a bacon butty/barm mmmmm tasty and a coffee.
Just a shame this part of the world has these ‘barm’ things as opposed to a nice Scottish crispy morning roll ………

Hall begins to fill up, then at 8:45 we get the days briefing.
Flags to expect, warnings about track slippyness (esp Druids), rules and what level of driving is expected of us.
The guy giving it was very professional and amusing.
You now get a white wristband (briefing attendance confirmed)

I then wander down to garage 25 (that the event organisers have comendeared for the day)
And hire a very nice new RST XL helmet for £10 for the day (credit card etc used as a deposit)
I also book a session with an instructor for £25, seems sensible to do so.

9:30am , woohoo time to jump in the car, everyone queues up at the entrance to the track.
towing eyes to be fitted if you have them (remember its a reverse thread on the GTI)
Large white sticker must be on windscreen, and it now has a 'tick' added to prove you passed brief scrutineering.

first time out its sighting laps behind a 'lead safety' car (new Clio Sport in white).
I was in the second group and was the first car waiting to go on, for a brief moment I was slightly concerned I was going to have to lead and set the pace for the group ! eeek

luckily the clio turned up and I could relax.......
straight out onto track behind the clio.
approx 50 mph , following the clio’s lines and keeping an eye on the cones placed on track
(turn-in/apex and exit points)
already I’m starting to get a feel for how quick this track is going to be.
Its feels good to be out on track and my nerves have started to settle a little.

3 laps and chequered flag is out.
Pull in and re- queue immediately lol. Sound checks now performed. You are asked your max revs.
I said 7k rpm, so i had to hold the car at 5200 rpm steady for a noise reading to be taken.
Passed and my white sticker gets a red dot now too.
I run a std exhaust so its virtually silent. (note to self , next mod exhaust)

Its now 10 ish and I can get a few laps in before my instruction session at 10:20, common sense says I maybe shouldnt, practicality says I can be sensible and get maximum laps in as the light is going to fade around 3.30 pm. needless to say I went out :-)
helmet on. I’m finally out on my own, without a lead car on a very wet track!
my heart thumps as I accelerate out of the pitlane, checking my mirrors for approaching cars down the pit straight.
ESP is of course on. taking it very easy.

Oulton only really needs 3rd and 4th gear (maybe 5th if you are really on it, which I wasn’t)
Cascades taken in 4th (for this lap) , ease it round , straighten the wheel and feed the power in
(its easy to feel the point where too much power would wash the front out with understeer), must stay off the power later that expected.

Up the hill 'Lakeside', full power 3d and 4th easily, I’m choosing to lift a little and dab the brakes for entry into 'Island Bend' , here its pretty easy to lose the rear.

Pull the car straight for serious braking into ‘Shell’, down to 3rd.
turn right into Shell, boy oh boy do you notice the banking and camber of this corner.
neck straining looking where you want to go.

again steady throttle waiting for the apex and for the exit, full 3rd and 4th again, tweak right then straighten for hard braking into the first chicane 'Foulston/Hill Top' ?, back into third and take the chicane easy and dont 'attack it' left first then right,

waiting, waiting, waiting for the exit , trying to ease the throttle on, slight hump in the road unsettles the front and ESP flashes almost every time. wheel straight, run wide off to the right and nail it up the hill....
(here you really notice the 4wd cars gain ground on this exit and really punish you up the hill)

going over the top of the hill , flat out in 4th (5th if you are very brave), reckoned I saw over 110mph at this point.
Easy to keep WOT but you then start to come downhill, and the braking point for a hard right looms.
This was probably the biggest stop for me, braking VERY hard, pulling 3rd when appropriate and trying to complete it all before hanging a right into 'Fosters' ?
there is run off straight ahead should you need it.
hard right (how close do you want to get to the wall of tyres?) , stay wide then hard left , let it run wide steady throttle and

chase the car round a right and then WOT into 4th and up clay hill, how brave are you ?
ESP flashes as you go light over the brow and the rear trys to break away (!)
speed now raised significantly and your’e approaching Druids where the overhanging trees make it slippier than the rest of the circuit!
We were warned about this corner and rightly so.
I managed to achieve a good rhythm but Druid did give me more than a few scares. I always though Id braked enough, only to feel my 'ring twitch as the camber drops off, the rear starts to break away and the ESP starts flashing.......

stay left then pull it into the apex , WOT 3rd and 4th , ease left and hard break again into 3rd and turn right into Druids.
A good turn in here really effects you speed into the dip and up onto the pit straight.
Each and every time round the g forces from Druids and up are addictive, like a carnival ride.
full 3rd and 4th up and over , I could pull 5th but I never did past the pits.
I proceeded to do 8 laps then came in for some instruction lol



back out for a short time with my instructor, Simon seemed ok with my driving (and liked the GTI), my biggest fault was letting off the brake non progressively which was unsettling the car more than it should. I needed to match my smooth braking with smooth 'unbraking'

came back in after 4 laps for the early lunch 10:45 planned. Simon happy to go out again later to see how I’d improved.

Lunch from 10:45 to 11:15, this was a rescheduled time to suit a hunt going past at some point!
wander round, everyone seemed very friendly. Lots of nice cars.

11:15 back out , for continuous laps ;-) I just didnt stop all day. Once youve started , you just dont want to stop.
Each and every time you find yourself with different groups of cars.
If they are faster let them past (overtake on the right only) and then watch their lines and try and keep up.

TC turns up at 1pm, I take a break to go and fill the car up with fuel, I had used 3/4 of a tank !
A dry line started to appear and the understeer started to go away, with the ability to carry more speed and throttle through corners. Down into cascades started to get very quick indeed ......

Tony d turned up around 2pm and we all had a chat.
I left the track around 2.30pm as I reckoned Id had my fun and didnt want to push lady luck.


Plus Points

Huge fun
Fast and safe in comparison to the roads
Relatively cheap (for the amount of track time you get)
Improve track craft and knowlegde of limits of the car, should you ever need them on the road.
High quality event planning and running by trackdays.co.uk/focused events.
Couldnt fault them from organisation through to execution.
Great driver instruction provided by Simon on the day. helpful, friendly and very knowledgeable.
Everyones friendly on the day
Huge levels of respect on the day. Everyone seemed to respect overtaking rules and let people through.
Great circuit with sufficient difficulty to be a learning experience over a protracted period of time. You will want to go again.


Minus Points

Knackering , Im acheing all over the day after
Without insurance, you are putting the entire value of your car on the line (not including personal cover either!)
You have to consider the worst case scenario.
Wet track in December (although I think this was actually a benefit having done it). I went into this event thinking I wanted a dry track, but now I dont. I want to try both. Dry = higher speeds and the potential for
bigger accidents. wet means you very quickly find out the grip levels and adjust you driving accordingly,more of a technical discipline.
you need to spend money on preparation and consumables.
Increased wear on brake pads/discs/drivetrain components/tyres etc
you will get addicted and want to do it again :innocent:


Type of Cars on the day :

hot hatches through to custom machinery
slk amg mercedes
alfa
r26
radical
skylines
evo's
imprezas
mk2's
clios

the way a car looks and any preconception you had about its 'known' speed dont apply on the track!
I often found cars I expected to be faster werent, and conversly slower looking cars to blitz by me lol


Summary

What an absolute blast, best thing Ive done in a while.
Brakes never faded, car held together and the muppet at the wheel survived for another day :signLOL:
Roll on next year so I can scrub TopCats, R888's it :P

A must do , for all car enthusiasts :notworthy:


[u][b]End of day statistics[/b][/u]

£135 day payment
£10 helmet hire
£25 track tuition
£30 for the photos
£60 petrol
£10 food
£550 brakes
£??? General wear and tear

so its a £100 day that cost £830 :grin:

remembered to reset both trips so
12.8MPG / 1 tank of fuel / 120 miles

Island Circuit is 2.3 miles , so that’s roughly 50 laps!

TD top tip : left foot brake to settle the car for increased traction out of corners :happy2:

some more pics I found online of the day :

[url=http://forums.m3cutters.co.uk/showthread.php?p=121532] >> black M3 E46 pics << [/url] [url=http://www.midlandslotus.co.uk/forum/index.php?showtopic=32593] >> couple of lotus elise pics << [/url]

first poster indicates the GT3 and TVR both went off :scared: , must have been after I left!

1 comment:

Roaders said...

Glad you had a good day John. We really should try to do a track day together at some point! We've not done Oulton park yet so maybe next year we can arrange a track day together.

If you're wanting some good track day kit take a look at demon tweaks - that's where we got our helmets. Very big range. Don't do what we did and pay the full price though - ask for a discount if you're buying a lot of stuff!

Fancy coming to the ring next year with us then? You'll love it I know!