The UK’s Arctic spring inevitably led to testing being postponed, but Geoff Gordon found time for some welcome tuition
After months of watching the Sud come together, I was really looking forward to getting behind the wheel – and four weeks on I still am. Whenever there has been a potential testing slot, the weather has thwarted our hopes.
Assuming things perk up, Raceworks Motorsport will be taking the car to Blyton at about the time that this edition of Motor Sportreaches the shops.
It hasn’t been a completely fallow month, though, because I went to Snetterton with coach John Norrington. I’d been getting into a bit of a lather about the transition from rear- to front-wheel-drive – I’d watched Dickie Meaden’s ‘How to drive a Clio Cup’ video countless times on the Motor Sport website! – but John has a calm, quietly spoken manner and gave me some really good pointers in an Alfa 145.
The 145 was well prepared with a recent refresh by Dave Ashford at Brunswick, who also does my engines. We were on season-old rubber to exaggerate the car’s movement and we lapped two-up for a while, taking turns in each seat, while I also did some solo runs.
John told me, “The best way to handle a front-wheel-drive car on track is to brake deeply, turn in a bit earlier than usual while trail-braking to keep the weight forward over the front wheels and try to straighten the steering early for the exit. The aim is to reduce the stress on the front tyres and allow the car to accelerate out of the corner cleanly without scrubbing the driven wheels and losing speed.”
I understand the principle and will book another session with John before the season starts. I also need to learn left-foot braking, which probably comes more naturally to karting kids than it does to somebody of my generation.
I have a little more time to prepare, though, because for various reasons I’ve had to cancel plans to enter the opening round of Peter Auto’s Heritage Touring Cup in Barcelona. The car’s race debut will now be here in the UK, sharing with Dickie at the Donington Historic Festival (May 4-6).
I have definitely started to pick up the front-drive technique, though it remains to be seen how that will transfer to the grippier, more powerful Sud. I’m not about to rush off and enter a round of the British Touring Car Championship, but I’m feeling better prepared than I might otherwise have been…
Next month: Blyton shakedown report (snow permitting); Donington preparations
Thanks to: Raceworks Motorsport; John Norrington; Brunswick Motorsport