What’s more, the search has also revealed that the SR1 Cup cars can go seriously quick indeed around the Outlon Park International circuit, judging by the times from when it last came here in 2013. There’s no hiding place, in other words.
YouTube has shown the handy stuff such as lines and turn in points, and some videos also have some key info such as revs, gears, and brake and throttle applications overlayed as graphics to offer further clues to unlocking quick laps at Oulton. YouTube also shows that it’s a tricky circuit to overtake on given its tightness, which makes that pace for qualifying even more crucial, plus of course the racecraft of getting the car off the line in the first place.
But what YouTube cannot prepare you for is the stuff that makes Oulton Park a favourite circuit of many drivers in Britian. It’s akin to a mini Nurburgring if you will with a mixture of seat-of-your-pants fast corners and complexes, some heady ascents, sharp descents, cambered bends and all the bumps. Ah, the bumps, of which there are so many that the overall impression of Oulton is one of a circuit that does its best to ensure you can’t get around it as quickly as you would like, wanting to spit you out into the condensed run-offs.
So it proved for me upon the two half hour morning practice sessions today ahead of Saturday’s races. The circuit was fine, the car even better, it was the driver that was the problem.
More specifically, the driver’s inability to build up the confidence to really attack the circuit by turning in positively, hitting the brakes hard, and carrying in far greater speeds into both the entrances and exits of corners. The lines were generally okay, but much like previously at Silverstone, my pace was one of neat and tidy rather than really pushing and experimenting with the car, lines, and turn in and braking points in order to unlock full seconds of extra time rather than just the last tenth of two. Much to work on for the afternoon.
That afternoon of work, with the help of my expert driver coach for the weekend James Abbott, resulted in four and a half seconds or so scrubbed off lap times from morning to afternoon, a huge confidence boost ahead of tomorrow. Not even a trip into the gravel trap could upset the progress.
A few technical changes helped also achieve boost the lap times, namely increasing the tyre pressures and also disconnecting the rear anti-roll bars to make the car grippier at the rear end, although understeer was a knock-on effect. All being well (ie it doesn’t rain) new rear tyres for the race should result in lap times that are faster still.
In the meantime, it’s back to Google for the evening pre-race routine: numbers, data, weather, YouTube…
Read more Radical race diary entries
Part one - Snetterton test day
Part two - Bedford Autodrome competitive track day
Part three - What's it like to drive a racing car?
Part four - Round one of racing at Silverstone