Silverstone Grand Prix Circuit Track Day
I purchased my Lotus Exige LF1 to take part in car events but also to take on track. I had booked the Silverstone track day in March and have been really looking forward to the day.
I was very lucky with the weather as it was the best day of the year with the sun out and the temperature at around 12°C. I arrived at the track at just before 8:00am and went to the race administration building for registration and for the drivers briefing. The event was to take place at the old National Pits. The format of the day was the same as most other track days with overtaking on the left and on the straights only.
After the briefing I walked down the back of pit lane. Silverstone seems to attract some seriously expensive and exotic hardware, some of which is extremely quick. There was the normal diverse range of cars from BMW’s to Porsche’s, Ferrari’s to Caterham’s and a number of classis cars too. The three most noticeable cars were a Ferrari 488 GT3 Race Car, a Lamborghini Gallardo Super Trofeo and a Mercedes Benz SLS AMG GT3 Race car. There were a number of race teams in attendance. I was not that daunted this time as this was my 3rd track day at Silverstone.
I have a small tool bag that I fit in the boot of the Lotus Exige LF1 and this consists of a tyre pressure gauge, tyre pump, gaffer tape, cable ties and a screwdriver and socket set. I wanted to store this is a garage and I met a chap who actually allowed me to share his garage with him.
I started the first session at around 9:30am and had already decided to run in Sport Mode and at a relatively easy pace to get used to the car and to the track. Within a couple of laps I had already approached the exit of Maggots too quickly and had to bailout over the tarmac run-off area. I couple of laps later I came in to the pits and quickly checked over the car before checking the tyre pressures. From previous articles on The Lotus Forums website I knew that the Pirelli Corsa tyres should be at 30psi hot all round and I had to adjust the pressures down by 7 – 8psi per tyre.
I set out again for a 30 minute run and started to gain a far better understanding of how the car handled and also what the best lines to take were. Upon entering the pit garage I again checked the tyres and the pressures had all risen by 2psi, so I readjusted them again before going back out on track.
I was most impressed with the handling and speed of the Lotus Exige LF1, although I found the rear end a little skittish under very hard breaking. The car was a lot easier to handle at the limit compared to the Renault Clio V6 and when it oversteered or understeered there was time to take corrective action before it all went horribly wrong.
In another morning session I managed to enter Brooklands at far to great a speed, I realised that the Lotus was not going to make the corner so I bailed out running over a small areas of grass before getting onto a tarmac area where I could re-join the track. I went straight into the pits and was happy to find that no damage had been done to the car, just a bit of grass between the front splitter and bumper.
For the afternoon sessions I felt that I had gained enough experience of the Lotus to be able to go into Race Mode. I began my laps a little bit more conservatively and I slowly built up more confidence in the car and my ability’s. The afternoon sessions were fantastic with no excursions off track. By the end of the day I had driven on track for over 4 hours and was shattered.
My fastest times were 2 minutes 40 Seconds and this was 14 seconds quicker than I managed in the Clio V6.
From the new International Pits start / finish line, a typical lap went as follows:
Approach Abbey in 4th gear and brake before entering the corner, then aim for the apex marked by two small red curbs and exit to the right of a black and white marker blending the throttle and steering inputs to fly around Farm Curve. Just as the car straightens up I started to brake heavily dropping down to 2nd gear for the right turn of Village. I would accelerate out of Village, not using the entire road on the exit bringing the car over to the right braking for the late apex of The Loop before getting the power down and approaching Aintree which is taken flat out in 3rd gear. Then it was down the Wellington Straight changing up to 4th gear and braking hard before and dropping down a gear for Brooklands. The apex of Brooklands is between the second and third bollard and I used the entire exit before immediately entering Luffield, still in 3rd. I tried to let the car push out a little mid-corner to open the exit and as the exit came in sight I would accelerate out of Luffield changing up through Woodcote Corner and onto the National Pits Straight. Then braking for Copse and after the apex, which is marked by 2 red bumps, blending in the power and steering keeping in 4th and moving over to the right turning left towards Maggotts Corner and braking then accelerating towards Becketts before braking and dropping down to 3rd before adding power through Chapel and onto the Hanger Straight. The car is able to get up to 5th gear down the Hanger Straight, before braking and dropping down to 4th gear for Stowe Corner and accelerating down to Vale, which is taken in 2nd gear. The speed builds up through Club Corner changing up to 3rd and after the exit up to 4th onto the International Pit Straight and past the start / finish line.