Motorsport is a game of fine margins

Published on Friday October 06 2017

MN reporter Stefan Mackley with a Ginetta G40 at Goodwood for a track day. Pic by RedMxx.

“Brake. BRAKE. BRAKE MORE!” Those are the shouts from my driving instructor Bradley Ellis as I come within inches of colliding with another car during a track day at Goodwood on one of the circuit’s fastest sections.

Things had been going so well.

I was driving a Ginetta G40 having been invited down by JBR Capital – a finance company for high end vehicles – who had organised the track day.

Having never driven at Goodwood or a Ginetta before, I was keen to listen to Ellis – a former British GT champion who has also raced at the Goodwood Revival – during my first run of the track.

Throughout he was constantly talking of where to brake, turn in, when to get on the throttle, even to the point where he knew exactly how the car was balanced without being behind the wheel.

“You came on the throttle too early and you see how it pushed the car wide,” he tells me as I try and get into the groove.

By the end of the first session I feel comfortable with the car, speed and turning in points and I’m excited to get back out.

Moving forward to the next session and the fast right and left of St Mary’s, where I’ve reached just over 100mph.

A Porsche has moved across from the right-hand side towards me on the left and although I’ve braked in the same place as previous laps it’s not enough this time.

Without sounding clichéd time seemed to slowdown and I felt the wheel being pulled to the left as Ellis grabs it and pulls us over towards the grass at almost 100mph.

Miraculously we avoid contact but it knocks my confidence and offers a stark reminder of how quickly things can go wrong, how easily I had misjudged what I thought was the Porsche letting me through (we’d been told to only overtake on the left).

My near-miss and the result of what happens when it goes wrong were about to become even more clear only minutes later, though.

Instead of seeing a chequered flag to end the session we saw a red and as we made our way around to the exact scene of my own near-crash, another Ginetta was off on the grass with heavy damage to the front having collided with the barriers at seemingly almost unabated speed.

Thankfully both the driver and instructor were unhurt but unsurprisingly severely shaken – the accident seemingly a misjudgement by the driver with severe consequences.

As I made my way slowly back to the pits I couldn’t help but feel that could easily have been me had it not been for Ellis.

He tells me that getting to a level of comfort in a race car is not the hard part, but pushing further to find that extra few tenths is and there is a fine line between success and failure.

I’d learnt more alongside Ellis from two sessions than I could ever have driving the car on my own for a whole day.

The professionals really are a class apart.

Recent news

Column

Who I have my money on for the BTCC title

By Matt James

Rallying News

Citroen: Meeke was 'not under control'

Citroen World Rally team principal Pierre Budar felt Kris Meeke was out of control and left...

Karting: The secrets to PF International

As part of our special investigation into the world of karting, we got former karting star and...

Racing News

BTCC driver Moffat quits TCR UK

British Touring Car Championship driver Aiden Moffat has exited the TCR UK championship, with...

Racing News

Historic FFord driver saved from fiery crash

Historic Formula Ford driver Nelson Rowe credited two spectators and a competitor for saving...

Rallying News

Citroen: C3 design saved Meeke in crash

Citroen team principal Pierre Budar believes the design of the manufacturer's C3 World Rally...

Rallying News

Triple ERC champion makes WRC2 move

Reigning three-time European Rally champion Kajetan Kajetanowicz will move into the World Rally...

Column

Silverstone's rallycross adventure

By Matt James

Taking on the European karting scene

The international karting paddock has witnessed its fair share of talented British drivers in...

Rallying News

Electric Mitsubishi rally car being developed

Swedish outfit Mpart has started developing an electric Mitsubishi rally car built around R5...

Rallying News

New WRC GB route a missed opportunity - Evans

Last year's Rally GB winner Elfyn Evans feels the revamped route for Wales' 2018 World Rally...

Rallying News

Rally seeding rules relaxed

Two-wheel drive and historic rally cars will be able to run first on the road on rally events...

Rallying News

MN Road Rally legends to attend Speed and Rally Show forum

Legends of the Motoring News Road Rally Championship will attend a forum at this weekend’s...

Rallying News

New push to get privateers back in WRC

World Rally Championship organisers are mounting a new push to get privateers back in the series'...

Rallying News

Toyota rules out team orders to boost Tanak

Toyota team principal Tommi Makinen has ruled out making Ott Tanak a clear number one and imposing...

Exploring karting's family tree

It’s commonly defined by professional racing drivers as the purest form of motorsport. It’s...

Rallying News

Kelly to make surprise Killarney return

Manus Kelly will make a surprise visit to the International Rally of the Lakes in Killarney...

Rallying News

Rally GB to unveil major route revamp

A significantly different route for Rally GB 2018, Britain's World Rally Championship round,...

Rallying News

Rovanpera hospitalised after Argentina crash

Kalle Rovanpera was hospitalised for checks after crashing out of the Rally Argentina WRC2 lead...

Rallying News

Ford sets out conditions for works RX return

Ford wants to see how the future of rallycross develops amid changes in America and plans for...

Racing News

Ingram takes victory in Donington Race 2

Tom Ingram became the first two-time winner in this season's British Touring Car Championship...

Racing News

Cook claims maiden BTCC victory

Josh Cook has broken his victory duck in the British Touring Car Championship, taking his Power...

1 2 3 52

More national news, in-depth race reports and analysis. Subscribe to the Motorsport News paper today.

What’s On

This weekend

No Events

Later

No Events

This weekend

No Events

Later

No Events

X