Bedford Autodrome Track Day

This is the first track day I have done in my Renault Clio V6 Phase II. I purchased the car in December and it has had a complete brake refurb, including a strip down and the seals replaced. I had a high grade brake fluid and have K-Tec braided brake hoses. So the car should stop.

I have also installed a Janspeed ‘Spike’ exhaust which give a couple of extra BHP, is lighter than standard and also sounds great. Also, installed is a K&N air filter.

Bedford are renowned for their strict noise limits with a one strike and your home policy, so I was a little concerned about the exhaust. On the static test it measured 97dB, the max allowable is 101dB and there are a number of microphones dotted around the circuit measuring noise levels, which cannot be greater than 87.5dB. The car did not exceed the track noise limits.

As this was the first time I had taken the car on track I started with a couple of exploratory laps and it soon became apparent that the Clio V6 is a very capable track car.

My approach was to brake before the corners and then gradually feed the power in and through the corner, balancing the car, before nailing the throttle on the exit. Pushing harder you notice little body roll and it was commented that the front wheel would sometimes lift off the ground. The car did understeer but this can be balanced on the throttle and if necessary corrected but turning into the slide.

Now I did lose the car once. I approached a corner and dropped down a gear and applied the power. The car started to understeer and I tried to save it, but to no avail and it ended with a lot of tyre smoke and the car pointing the wrong way. I don’t know if there is an inertia switch in the car but it took a couple of times to get started. Anyway, I’ve read that your not trying hard enough if you have not had a spin in your Clio V6.

The brakes were very good with no fade in the stints I did. The brake pedal remained the same throughout and I had full confidence in the braking zones.

My only problem was with the clutch. My car has only done 23K miles and the previous owner only drove a few hundred miles each year. I don’t think that the clutch fluid has ever been changed and it may be that water or air has got into the fluid over time. Anyway, on two of the stints the clutch failed completely and I had to wait for the car to cool down before going out again. I’m hoping that a change in fluid will sort this out.

The Clio V6 was obviously not the fastest car on track but it was definitely not the slowest. It’s difficult to say how it compared against other cars because the other driver could be more or less experienced / good. There were a number of very powerful cars, such as high powered Merc’s, Nissan GT-R’s, M3 BMW’s and track day specials, and the Clio V6 had no chance against these. However, it was certainly quicker than the other Renaults, MR2, BMW 1 Series, MX5’s. It was faster than some of the lower powered Caterham type cars though it was more difficult to shake them on the twisty sections.

As improvements go the basic design of the car is it’s major flaw with its engine in the rear, over / behind the rear axle. This is why I bought mine, for a driving challenge. To improve the car more I would like more grip and better corner handling, and of course more power and torque. I understand that power and torque is difficult to add, better air filter, free-flow exhaust and a remap may get 20hp. On the handling side a Quaife LSD differential, different tyres and maybe upgraded suspension.

The track day was great fun. Bedford was definitely a great place to start, a long track with great corners and big run-off areas.

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