The summer has finally arrived, I have a day off and there just happens to be a track day on not a million miles from home. Time to put this madcap family friendly track day car idea into action.
The guys at Maundrell and Co host an annual track day at Castle Combe for their customers and friends. It’s a relaxed affair with a maximum of 9 cars on track at any one time. The perfect environment to find what the Scooby – and I – can do.
The Paddock area had a good mix of cars parked up when I arrive. Everything from 911s and Boxsters – the staple of Maundrells sales diet – to race-prepared Caterhams brought on trailers; a stripped and caged Civic Type-R; some fast AMG Mercs; and a GUL Yellow 850 T-5R estate. Comforting to know I’m not the only one daft enough to bring a wagon.
Briefing done, the next step was noise testing. With the Prodrive back box I wasn’t too sure what it would score on the decibel meter, but a reading of 89db meant it was well under the limit.
The Scooby was ready to hit the track, but was I? I went in search of Tim Nash, the friendly ARDS instructor Maundrell and Co had provided to give coaching sessions. Tim has been instructing for decades and has plenty of experience with all sorts of cars. With his input and advice I was no longer a mobile chicane for the other cars.
12 laps were quickly racked up and Tim advised we come in to let the Scooby – and me – cool down. What did I learn about the car? Well, RF03 has enough grunt to take Castle Combe’s fast, sweeping corners in third or fourth gear. Folly, Hammerdown and Westway are flat out, but it takes plenty of brave pills to find the limits around the tricky Camp Corner, leading onto the start finish straight.
As for me, Tim advised I needed to relax and be smoother with my steering inputs, so after lunch I went out again and set to work on improving. I was able to get the car really flowing from Tower, through Bobbies and Westway, before slowing down for Camp. However, nailing a good line through Quarry proved difficult. I was either understeering wide with the front tyres protesting, or losing too much speed on entry and needing a mid-corner downchange to get some punch out of the corner.
Again 12 laps was enough for me and the car. The brake pedal was getting longer and I was conscious that RF03 had to fulfill its other role collecting the kids from nursery later on that day. When I parked up in the pits I could see that the front tyres had taken a beating and wouldn’t stand up to another session, so while I still had brakes and road legal tyres it was time to call it a day.
Driving RF03 hard on track was a lot of fun. It will need better tyres, longer lasting brakes and there is some understeer that could be dialled out. But I need to improve my driving skills before I start looking to change suspension settings.
Now the kids are delivered safely home and tucked up in bed I’m looking into the next outing.
By Dai Davies