Thruxton: The fastest circuit in the UK
We arrived at the classic World War II aerodrome circuit Friday night and setup on the grass area of the paddock we'd been allocated. In person mandatory scrutineering is finally back so we headed straight there - car and kit all good.
With a limited field of Porsches we lined all the cars up - show'n'shine style and headed to the hotel.
Saturday morning first thing, temperatures were still rising as we were first series on track.
As usual we pre-prepared the car so the only things to decide were suspension stiffness (stiff) and tyre pressures (low due to the heat). Given the keep turning right nature of the circuit we ran the left side tyres lower than the right to try to protect them from overheating given the soaring weekend temperatures.
Garry headed out to qualifying with a clear track in front for most of his half of the 25min qualifying.
We had never driven the track, let alone raced it before so we're grateful for the couple of hours on a simulator the weekend before. The lines and gears were pretty good but the SIM doesn't portray the bumps, nor the off-camber sections where if you run wide it just keeps dragging you wider!
It took a couple of laps to get tyres up to temp and then Garry was able to push for what he thought was a decent 1m32s lap time before pitting (3rd fastest). Tyres were already overheating after just 10 mins so we reduced pressures at the same time.
After a quick driver change Michael went out for his qualifying. Initially hampered by other cars, but once he let them past and created a gap he was virtually as quick setting a time just over a second off, with both drivers faster in different sectors of their laps.
However the single drivers just got faster and faster through the session as they gained more confidence over the full 25mins and we were shunted down to p7 on the grid.
Before the race, we were potentially in trouble with the clerk of the course over failing to attend a new driver briefing. This was scheduled at the time we were due to be heading for the assembly area, so we attended the later meeting. All was resolved amicably with common sense prevailing in the end.
Luckily we had family and friends in support who serviced the brakes and refuelled the car for us, so we were still ready to race in time.
Our race was scheduled for 40 minutes, with a mandatory pit-stop of 90 seconds to switch drivers anytime from 15-25 mins. The slower class 4 924 cars would have a shorter stop of 60 secs to bring the field back together.
Garry got an absolute flyer of a start jumping straight up to 3rd off the grid. The front 3 Boxster's pulling away from the rest of the field impressively, with just over a second covering the trio.
Within 2 laps he was looking likely to pass for 2nd but lost the rear momentarily in the fastest 100mph corner (Church), the fraction of a second of opposite lock causing him to run out of exit curbs and onto the grass. Thankfully he held a straight line and re-joined losing around 3 seconds.
The external temperature was 38 degrees in the sun and tyres were immediately struggling. It took 10 minutes to re-catch that gap and at the second attempt pass for 2nd place round the outside into the final chicane. With the lead Boxster having now escaped a handful of seconds up the road, he pitted the next lap round exactly 20 mins into the race.
Michael took over but we noticed we had somehow lost a big chunk of time and dropped back to 4th on the road.
He lapped consistently and with good lines but was unable to push the car harder feeling it understeer and a distinct lack of grip from qualifying. He improved to a 1m34 best lap (many drivers were a second or two slower in the afternoon heat) holding on for 5th place overall.
In hindsight we lost around 10 seconds in the pit stop, hampered by some slightly-too-intrusive scrutineering judges and our own lack of practice. But also probably took too much air out of tyres at the stop causing Michael to not have the grip and hence the confidence to push harder early in his stint.
The event overall was great experience. Loads of spectators with the Truck Racing series and various attractions, side-shows and stalls going on. And the track is very fast - you are on the knife edge of grip all the way round the back section - feathering the gas in the turns - just keep turning right!
We reached a vmax of 135mph in 5th gear averaging 95mph round the lap.
The fastest circuit in the UK
Timing Data --> https://www.tsl-timing.com/file/?f=BARC/2022/222721pot.pdf
Full Race Onboard --> https://youtu.be/6QWO0ki466Y
Live Stream Replay --> https://youtu.be/Kk9Z49S7_-0