Headed up to Cadwell Park last night and stayed in a great B&B called the Paddock, located just 2 miles from the circuit. Highly recommended.
Gary called at 8pm to say unfortunately he was not going to make it for the day today, as something urgent had come up. A shame as the continuity of having one instructor is helpful, but he said James Foard was coming in his place. James called at 21:30 to touch base and we were set for the morning.
Arrived at the circuit around 08:30, met James, and just made sign on and the driver’s safety briefing. We started the day by reviewing some videos showing Gary and James battling at Cadwell in the 2014 PBMW Championship. It was helpful to see the lines, and get an idea of where the breaking points are, before I get into the car and give it a go.
I explained to James that from my last session at Snet, my Heel n Toe was something I was working on, and I wanted to get that nailed in the morning before pushing on. We joined the circuit around 10:00 and within 3 laps I was pleased that all the muscle memory work at Snet seemed to have paid off, and I was comfortably Heel N Toe’ing every downshift. With that put to bed, we moved onto learning the lines and getting a baseline. After 10 laps we came into the paddock and had a debrief. Good early progress with 4 areas of improvement to work on. Cadwell is an amazing circuit, and venue. I had heard a lot about it and it lived up to the hype. The first left hander from the start finish straight is a flat out forth gear corner, but I did not have the confidence yet to attack it full on. Your brain has to switch from road mode to racing, and it initially tells you there is no way on earth you can get round that corner flat out.
After 3 15 minute sessions, we had put in some decent track time. We had lunch and hit the GPS timing data and GoPro video to see how I was getting on. Officially there is no timing allowed on track days, but since when has that stopped anyone, especially as the loggers are installed into the cars. The results looked promising, if frustrating. I have never seen so many red flags at a track day before. That was really hampering putting in hot laps, and the timings said it all. My fastest morning lap was a 1:53.05. To put that in context, the pole times in summer are around the 1:48s. So I was a long way away.
After lunch we went back for more. I had now sorted all the lines, braking points, and knew the circuit pretty well. After a few clear laps the times started to fall. We had some dramas with the GPS not starting automatically, but were able to get a feel for the actual pace I was at, and predict the times pretty accurately. At the end of the day, after looking at all my best sectors, and feeling us going much quicker, I was lapping in the 1:50s. Really chuffed with that, if I can replicate that during qualification I should be looking at around 10th. I think it is not realistic to set that as a goal, as who knows how I will deal with qualification in my first season, at unfamiliar tracks, but it is an indicator that if it all hooks up I have the potential to challenge the Top 10. Awesome day, in fact the best day I have done so far. I actually feel ready for the first race now, rather than feeling really anxious.
So that concludes the pre-season work. The only things left now are to buy the remaining kit, and keep watching the vids. The next event in my calendar is Race Meet 1, Cadwell Park, 23rd April 2017. Now the excitement builds…