I went to Brans Hatch on Saturday 10th Dec. Went down in my mates BMW M4, which was a great start to the day. That car looks incredible in stealth black 🙂
We arrived early and met Gary and the team. There were two E30 PBMWs there, mine and a newbie called Will who will be racing with GRF in the 2017 championship. He was a lovely guy, starting out and was pretty new to track days.
Whilst they prepped the car and garage we attended the Briefing. And to my surprise, Tom Chilton was making a guest appearance for the day. Two lucky people were picked out randomly and each had 30 minutes of 1 on 1 tuition with Tom, lucky buggers.
After a bacon roll for some much needed wake up fuel we were in the car getting ready for the first stint. I have never driven an E30 before, so I was keen to see how it compared to the Z4M.
The weather was pretty cold, the track was wet, and the car had 888s. With an open diff this was going to be exciting.
The morning sessions started off at a slow pace, learning the car and track, my first time at Brans. The first thing I noticed was how heavy non assisted steering felt, and how many turns the rack was from lock to lock. Also the throttle was a lot less sensitive that the M, which took a while to adjust to but was actually welcome after 10 laps.
Doing a track day in the E30, with only 145 bhp was a brand new experience. I was getting buzzed by so many cars with loads more power, and some caterhams with wet tyres, but I soon learnt to drive hard where I could and be aware of others coming past. Everyone was well behaved and things progressed.
After lunch, with some track and car time under my belt I increased the pace and pushed harder each lap. Now I could feel the car on the limit of the tyres and I started to get used to it being on and beyond the limit of grip. Brans is a great circuit, so different from the flat of Bedford Autodrome.
Towards the end of the afternoon my pace had increased significantly and I was having loads of fun, the grin on my face was huge lol. The track was drying slowly and was becoming more and more greasy. Graham Hil bend was a nightmare with the apex like an ice rink! I pushed on as hard as I had all day, and ended up doing a massive drift in front of James, one of the GRF instructors who was following in their new Z4 3.0 Race Car. I held the drift and came in a lap later for a rest, to be greeted by a marshall who informed me in an every so nice way that drifting is not allowed and he took my number and wrote it in the naughty book!
A few laps later, we saw the medical car leaving the pit lane. We then heard that the Z4 had left the track and was involved in an accident. We found it, burried into the tyre wall on the exit of druids. Gary’s business partner was clearly enjoying himself a bit too much and had spun out and had a big one. The car was recovered and the entire right hand side was dented, every panel from the front wing to the rear. Whoops! The only thing hurt was his pride, but it was a bit extra drama for Gary as they had driven the Z down and now had to trailer it home, to get back in time to get the PBMWs back.
The day finished with another 10 laps on a pretty empty track and the light faded and everyone had had their fill. Over the day I was faster than Will, so I may not qualify last for the first race (note MAY lol). My mates were timing my laps and I went from 1:16s in the morning to 1:11:54 best time and most laps around 1:12 – 1:13 depending upon traffic. I have no idea how that compares to wet lap times in the PBMW series, but hey, it was an awesome intro and I really loved having support from GRF throughout the day. Having someone to tend to the car, help with the harnesses and coms, and keep things running smoothly was something I could get used to lol.
I am going to get more dates booked in between now and the first race, getting an much pre-season learning done as I can before the first race meet @ Cadwell Park late April.