A 130mph driving lesson



I’m flat out in fifth pushing 130mph approaching Hawthorns, one of the fastest and most demanding corners of any circuit in the country for the first time in my life. I’m also driving a very quick Radical SR3, on slicks and full downforce wings, for the first time in my life. The slight worry is that I’m not allowed to brake until my co-driver says so. This should be interesting…


I should be nervous, but luckily I’ve got Le Mans driver, Porsche Carrera Cup winner and Goodwood TT winner Sam Hancock next to me making sure we don’t end up ‘doing a Piquet’. We charge through the corner safely and within several laps I even manage to get the line through Clearways right too. Not easy, I can tell you.


Sam is the founder of The Drivers Club (www.thedriversclub.co.uk), a new venture run by his Jota Sport team to teach aspiring drivers the basics of performance circuit driving. Formed in 2000, Jota has prepared and run cars at all levels of competition, making the podium at Le Mans and in the ALMS.


Together with fellow drivers such as Williams F1 tester Jonathan Kennard, Sam has built a reputation for easing the best out of aspiring drivers. If he can get me lapping the fearsome Brands Hatch GP circuit in the super-quick Renault Megane 26R, harassing Porsche 911s through fast corners on my way, then a half decent club driver should easily be able to unlock huge amounts of lap time under his patient tuition.

A perfect example of what can be achieved is the story of Jota driver Simon Dolan. In April 2007 Simon had never been to a race circuit, yet amazingly this year he’s competing at the sharp end of the European VdeV and UK Speed endurance series driving a prototype Ligier JS49. Not bad for someone who’s wife bought him a track day for his birthday, which involved driving a Mini with Sam at disused airstrip Bruntingthorpe.

His connections with Jota and The Drivers Club have allowed Dolan to recently test a full-blooded Zytec LMP2 car with the aim of competing at Le Mans within the next year or two. Simon insists he’s there to win, and if Sam and Jota Sport can continue his development at the current rate, who’s to say his claims can’t be achieved.

Of course, such personal tuition doesn’t come cheap, but if you’re trying to build a career as a racing driver or just get the most out of your own car, it’s money well spent. Sam can tailor the tuition to cater for historic racers, which obviously requires a somewhat different driving style to that of a modern single-seater.


My experience was of a friendly, relaxed team of people who have built a good reputation for on-track success with Jota Sport. The Drivers Club is the next level of personal driver training and, whether you’re searching for those last few tenths or just want to ease your way into motor sport, this is a great way to start.

Damon Cogman

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