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chilled
10-03-2009, 08:36 PM
This may be better in trip reports, but it's also a comparative car review.

Today I had a taster day for track-club at Donington, which was at a rare unsilenced Donington track day, organised by bookatrack. Really good value at 295 for the day. The track day fee was 225 on its own, and the fee covered that and the car hire.

I was expecting a Clio to be one of the cars on offer, but someone decided to stuff it into the arnco at Bruntingthorpe last week so instead I had to cope with an S2 Elise (1ZZ-FE 140bhp engine) S2 Exige S (2ZZ-GE with S/C, 210bhp I think) and a Westfield Aerorace, a Lotus 7 replica with a 180bhp engine (Zetec I think).

There were 8 of us, so we were split into 2 groups and given our own instructor and rotated through the cars. My group had Charlie Hollings as the instructor, who amongst other things raced a Pescarolo Judd LMP1 car at Le Mans last year. Nice guy and very helpful.

So the first car up was this:

http://lh6.ggpht.com/_mpA2rBSa8ds/SbbVVBOj-KI/AAAAAAAAAIs/OUTZWao6Wqg/s800/IMG_2566.JPG

The track started very wet and greasy, and if you've been to Donny in the wet you'll know exactly what I mean. This first session with Charlie was very eye opening, giving me *way* more confidence in the wet than I've ever had. The correct line though redgate and Macleans are very wide and constant radius. Whilst I've known this from reading, I don't think I've ever put it into practice. It's worth 10mph through the corner easily.

The S2 Elise. First impressions were a very stiff throttle, feeling more like a brake pedal. On track in the wet the lack of power was a good thing. However the brakes demanded respect, easily locking up, and quite hard to stop them locking up again once it'd happened. But reasonably sure footed despite the conditions. Very tractable, predictable despite the mid engined, short wheel base design.

http://lh4.ggpht.com/_mpA2rBSa8ds/SbbVDYY092I/AAAAAAAAAHg/aK--zDB8O4Q/s800/IMG_2557.JPG

chilled
10-03-2009, 08:56 PM
After the Elise was the Exige S. I've driven an Elise before but not an exige and definitely not one with a supercharger bolted to it :D The track was still very wet and the car was running on road tyres, not the oem A048Rs.

http://lh4.ggpht.com/_mpA2rBSa8ds/SbbVpU_M9kI/AAAAAAAAAKI/xQqp2xdBCkY/s800/IMG_2577.JPG

It has no rear view mirror as you don't need to see the S/C whilst driving on track. It has the probax seats which are as comfy as everyone says. And getting in is as hard as everyone says, especially with a helmet on. Throttle is lighter, gearbox similar to the elise. Maybe slightly better. Despite the high redline, the engine doesn't feel as rev happy as say an S2000 engine.

With the track still greasy, it was a handful and I had to be way more careful with the throttle, especially through hollywood approaching craner. But not too much of a handful. It actually felt more planted in the wet, a bit more together. The brakes were also more positive. Very communicative and it's like someone (ie Lotus :D ) has taken the Elise and turned it up to 11.

http://lh3.ggpht.com/_mpA2rBSa8ds/SbbVjDkgkgI/AAAAAAAAAJs/ZwHv1w60mFE/s800/IMG_2574.JPG

chilled
10-03-2009, 09:13 PM
After a session in the Exige, we had another session in the Elise. Still pretty wet but more instruction from Charlie about the wet line really helped. Also a bit of an ego boost as we were talking about the ARDS test. And how I'd pass apparently. Also, if anyone on here wants to do their ARDS in one day, it's 180 on Friday at Silverstone, apparently they're struggling for numbers. If I wasn't a contractor, I'd be there.

Then the next car, after lunch as the track was drying out was the Westfield Aerorace

http://lh5.ggpht.com/_mpA2rBSa8ds/SbbVPy0jkEI/AAAAAAAAAIU/VAdUjVnSrCM/s800/IMG_2563.JPG

Stack dash, no handbrake and no gear diagram either (never did find reverse :D ). I've driven a few superlights and an R400 and it feels like a midpoint between the two. But with slightly less understeer. Reacts well to being treated roughly and the back is even more pliable. Slightly stiff throttle again. Not something I'd experienced before today.

Chatting to some of the others there, most of whom were fairly new to the track game, they didn't like the westfield. And one of them couldn't even fit into the seat. But despite me being a bit of a fat giffer, I had no problems fitting in the seat. It's more the size of a caterham SV to be honest.

In fact, I think I preferred the aerorace to the R400 I've driven (bookatrack's). I don't know if it's a chassis thing or if it's the geo, but the lack of initial understeer really helped a faster lap.

chilled
10-03-2009, 09:23 PM
After the first session in the westfield, and now on a practically dry track, I then had another session in each of the Exige and the westfield. I was particularly looking forward to running the exige in the dry and getting the best of it.

Taking the exige out again, instantly it felt great. More sorted, very well planted and pretty damn quick. Getting a decent dry line through Redgate meant I had to brake for craner. It's possible I might not have had to, given enough time, but it was on road tyres. I could be a race driver with excuses like that :D .

I came up against some kind of Ultima. Through the back half of the track he was holding me up, then he'd pull over after coppice and plant his foot. :jerk: I'd then catch up half way through redgate and it'd happen all over again. Even Charlie the instructor was egging me on, leaving me out an extra lap to see if I could get him. didn't manage it but it was good fun. Enough time and I'm sure he would have made a mistake.

After the exige it was back in the westfield for some completely dry hooning. Lots of fun and putting everything into practice that I'd learnt through the day. I'm not much quicker in the wet and have a slightly better line in the dry at Donington.

Overall, I still prefer the caterfields for track work. Or at least UK tracks. But the Exige is a good trackday car that you could also drive to the ring. If I stop doing so many work miles, I think one might be on the cards. :D

Sid64
10-03-2009, 11:48 PM
Let me get this right - it's 295 for the day, you get an instructor and you don't have to provide your own car ?

That sounds pretty tempting as an introduction. I'm itching to have a go at a track day after my passenger laps at Silverstone. I don't think our Hilux is the correct tool for a race track though ;)

Simon
11-03-2009, 07:23 AM
Originally posted by Sid64@Mar 11 2009, 12:48 AM
Let me get this right - it's 295 for the day, you get an instructor and you don't have to provide your own car ?

Does sound good. How much driving time do you think that you got over the day?

Nige
11-03-2009, 07:46 AM
Great report :thumb:

Interesting how much quicker you felt in the wet after the instruction. I`m not a fan of the wet either, I have passenger laps with others (ie Matti) and wonder where they get the grip from sometimes...

Dale
11-03-2009, 08:35 AM
295 including all that seat time?! :blink:

What are the crash excesses? Where there any more charges?

EDIT:

Aha... just answered my own questions with 30 seconds on Google. They're 'taster' days and offer exceptional value over the normal 900 packages.

5 sessions, 3 different cars, ARDS instructor, all fuel and entry fees covered... amazing value at 295. Will undoubtedly create a 'buzz'! :thumb:

chilled
11-03-2009, 08:51 AM
Each session was approx 5 laps. So it worked out at about 6 sessions of 10-15 minutes. Lots of hanging around, but an utter bargain.

It is indeed a loss-leader type session. :D

Nige
11-03-2009, 08:58 AM
Originally posted by chilled@Mar 11 2009, 09:51 AM
but an utter bargain.
Absolutely :thumb:

Simon
11-03-2009, 09:09 AM
Originally posted by chilled@Mar 11 2009, 09:51 AM
Each session was approx 5 laps. So it worked out at about 6 sessions of 10-15 minutes. Lots of hanging around, but an utter bargain.

It is indeed a loss-leader type session. :D
Great value and the aim is to get you back on a full paying day :thumb:

chilled
11-03-2009, 11:32 AM
Originally posted by Simon+Mar 11 2009, 10:09 AM--></div><table border='0' align='center' width='95%' cellpadding='3' cellspacing='1'><tr><td>QUOTE (Simon @ Mar 11 2009, 10:09 AM)</td></tr><tr><td id='QUOTE'> <!--QuoteBegin-chilled@Mar 11 2009, 09:51 AM
Each session was approx 5 laps. So it worked out at about 6 sessions of 10-15 minutes. Lots of hanging around, but an utter bargain.

It is indeed a loss-leader type session. :D
Great value and the aim is to get you back on a full paying day :thumb: [/b][/quote]
Which I may do. If 2 of you share a car, which doesn&#39;t cost extra, it can make for good value.