After my first race at Silverstone I was keen to get out on track again but with most race championships going into hibernation between November and March, my next race was to be eight long months later. The next race needed to be at a smaller circuit with a shorter lap so I had a better chance to learn the corners. Hopefully I’d also be involved in some closer racing.
Cadwell Park seemed to tick both boxes and the MSV Trackday Trophy had a race there on May 1st. Colin at Supatune had the same green puma available for that event so I signed up to share the drive, with Colin finding the other driver. Having never driven the track before (other than one sighting lap on a trackday that was then cancelled due to fog…), driving circuit before the race would definitely help. Fortunately, Colin had organised a trackday at Cadwell in early March. To keep costs down I signed up for the morning session only.
The day was wet and windy. So windy that the Supatune crew’s luxury accommodation (or tent to you and I), hadn’t survived the night. No F1 luxury winnebago’s here. At least there was no fog this time. Having sold my old helmet without HANS posts and foolishly delayed spending the money on a new one, my helmet for the day would be my old Top Tek I’d purchased over 20 years ago (who remembers them?). It only cost around £65 new so was never the latest in protection. My cycle helmet was probably safer but it was not cracked/damaged so was allowed to use it. Gotta love trackday regulations!
After the sighting laps I headed out on track for the first of my 3x 20 minute sessions. Colin sat in with me initially to share some of his circuit knowledge and ensure I didn’t fire the car off at the start of the day. With it being front wheel drive, the key point was not to lift off if it starts to slide, but to keep the power on to pull you out of trouble. The car was using Federal RS-R fast road/trackday tyres. These seem to be really popular for trackday use giving good performance for sensible money. Uncertain of the grip these would give in the wet I took it steady initially but once warm they worked surprisingly well, both on a wet and drying track. The morning flew by as i shared the car with the other drivers, the downtime being useful for analysing where I could improve next time out. The rain continued to fall in varying intensities from drizzle through to biblical downpours. Fortunately the hospitality tent (pop up gazebo) was made of sterner stuff than the tent and kept us dry between sessions.
Cadwell is the total opposite of Silverstone. Its narrow, undulating, and a real challenge even with modest power. Cresting the mountain where the car goes light is great fun but before you’ve had chance to enjoy it you’re into the chicanes of the hall bends. Carrying speed through this narrow section is challenging to get right as you go from kerb to kerb before immediately braking for the hairpin. I worked hard to get my lines right, often following other cars to see their lines. The section I found most difficult was as the end of the start/finish straight where you go uphill into coppice before reducing speed and picking the correct lines through the double apex of Charlies. As usual it’s these difficult corners which have the biggest impact on lap times with Charlies opening out onto the longest straight on the circuit, Park straight.
By the end of my sessions, I’d learnt the track pretty well having tried almost every possible combination of gear, speed and line into every corner without the added pressure of competing. The race couldn’t come soon enough.