Taking it to the edge

In last week’s sweltering heat, I took to Silverstone’s historic international circuit in a blissfully air conditioned Toyota GT86.

I was back for some more 1:1 tuition. This time covering heel and toe, trail braking and lines.

Silverstone’s historic international circuit omits the chicane at Vale for a fast kink. After a few laps getting used to the different entry, it was a lot of fun guiding the car in and out of ‘fast Vale’. The historic circuit was being prepared for the Silverstone Classic, where Denis Welch was to tragically lose his life on Sunday.

I took several things away from my time on the historic layout. The first: Corner entry. I’d been slightly nervously avoiding getting right to the edge of the track on corner entry, with the effect of creating a much tighter corner than is necessary. Jack, my instructor, showed me the difference of taking the car to the track limits: The corners become straighter, exit speed is increased, time is saved.

The second point was controlling the weight of the car. There’s a lot of inertia in a one-tonne car travelling at speed. I’d already covered using a balanced throttle to balance the car, but this time I learnt to use the brakes to transfer weight forward and over the front wheels. This allows them to grip better, and consequently helps the car turn in. If the weight is too far back, the front tires skid pointlessly and the car develops understeer. Instead of coming off the brakes before turning in, the technique is to gradually bleed off them before getting back on the throttle.

These two points, along with a little more experience with heel and toe have helped to increase my confidence. Thanks to the great instructors at Silverstone, I still feel like I’m learning a huge amount every time I get behind the wheel.

On to the next lesson.