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tertius
10-02-2011, 12:38 PM
Bookatrack trip to Spain (Ascari and Jerez) and Portugal (Autodromo Internacional d'Algarve or more commonly, Portimão).

Travelling with a mate, Nick (NXI20 on the forums) whom I had met on previous track days and ring trips.

Our cars travelled on transporters and Nick and I flew out to Malaga on Friday morning. We were met by one of the BaT instructors (Scott) at Malaga airport who drove us to Ronda. We stayed in a beautiful hotel in the centre of Ronda built on the side of a massive 120m gorge that cuts through the town.

Ascari

Saturday morning was an early start - its cold, dark and did I mention early, the temp gauge in the minibus reads -4 degrees as we turn into the very discreet entrance to Ascari.

Moderate chaos in the paddock slowly resolves itself until all the cars are off and the briefing is underway. The usual Jonny/BaT briefing concludes with the encouraging words "oh, and there is some ice on the track" from the local instructor ... ! The circuit is at 900m and the overnight chill can linger.

http://www.tertius.me.uk/pages/Iberia_2011/Ascari_09.JPG

Out on the sighting laps I am very cautious in the cold following the Ascari Porsche - this circuit is huge - nearly 6km long and there is a lot going on.

However, as soon as the sun is up properly the temperature climbs and its becoming positively warm.

The circuit proves surprisingly easy to learn and I'm fairly soon into a rhythm. It has a fabulous roller coaster section uphill through a couple of fast chicanes and then diving into a shallow bowl, reminiscent of the Karrussel. It definitely suits a nimble car like the Elise.

There is a great mix of cars on the trip, dozens of Caterhams of course, lots of GT3s, a Ruf Rturbo, a Carrera GT, four or five Radicals, two Ultimas, a PalmerSport JP1, a KTM X-Bow (ballistically quick the whole trip, and not once did the driver give a wave of thanks for being let through ... ;) ), a Ferrari 308 which doesn't actually complete a single lap before it breaks down and its trip is over and a small contingent of Lotuses, though I had the only Elise.

http://www.tertius.me.uk/pages/Iberia_2011/Ascari_06.JPG

Many of the more extreme cars were accompanied by support crews but everyone is very friendly.

Ascari itself is superbly done, the paddock, the buildings and the grounds are actually beautiful, the restaurant and the food were excellent, certainly the first track day I've been on where lunch was served at tables with linen tablecloths.

The track is long with some superb and exciting sections, but it is not especially challenging or difficult to read and somehow it lacks soul. I really enjoyed it and it suited the Elise very well but it didn't live up to my very high expectations.

http://www.tertius.me.uk/pages/Iberia_2011/Ascari_05.JPG

In car video of me chasing a Carrera GT at Ascari ('http://www.vimeo.com/19778376')

In traditional Lotus fashion my alternator (all of one track day old) packed up at 4 in the afternoon, and so I finished the day a little early. Fortunately the boys from Track-Club were there supporting the JP1 and had a spare K series alternator which they agreed to fit the next day for me.

Jerez

Saturday night and the cars were back on the transporters and we were all bussed to Jerez. Passing quickly over the hotel (which defined merely adequate) next morning we were bussed to the circuit.

The F1 teams were already starting to setup for testing later in the week, and were incredibly chummy and interested in what was going on.

There was considerable chaos and confusion as we all had to produce our health insurance documents - public healthcare in Spain won't cover injuries incurred on track - but the delay gave the Track-Club guys time to fix my alternator including the underlying wiring issue, and I only lost about 2 hours track time all told (including the hour at Ascari).

You can see it jacked up in the background here:

http://www.tertius.me.uk/pages/Iberia_2011/Jerez_03.JPG

Jerez is an epic circuit, fast and flowing with some real technical challenges. It is set in a dramatic bowl carved out of the landscape. It has a slight air of decay and fading glories but I'd cheerfully go back tomorrow. Surprisingly the Elise really worked here and I would rate it my favourite of the three circuits.

http://www.tertius.me.uk/pages/Iberia_2011/Jerez_01.JPG

http://www.tertius.me.uk/pages/Iberia_2011/Jerez_05.JPG

http://www.tertius.me.uk/pages/Iberia_2011/Jerez_08.JPG

The only major incident of the trip happened at Jerez with a GT3 RS pretty heavily damaged after being put in the wall.

Portimão

Sunday night most of the cars were back on the transporter, but Nick and I decided to drive ourselves in his GT3 to Portimão. Monday was the only day off of the trip and we had an enjoyable drive across southern Spain and Portugal the 400 odd kms to the next hotel.

Portimão is an immense modern, technical and hilly circuit. Imagine Cadwell combined with the Nurburgring GP circuit and you'll get some idea. It is very deceptive with a number of blind crests usually followed by startling dips. It is a true power circuit and the Elise proved desperately under-powered - all the twisty bits seem to be uphill! And the start-finish straight is 1100 metres long. A really challenging circuit that would reward many future visits (preferably with a GT3!).

http://www.tertius.me.uk/pages/Iberia_2011/Portimao_02.JPG

http://www.tertius.me.uk/pages/Iberia_2011/Portimao_06.JPG

http://www.tertius.me.uk/pages/Iberia_2011/Portimao_08.JPG


The final night dinner was on Bookatrack and was rather good.

All in all a fabulous trip, that I enjoyed immensely. Every circuit was different and thoroughly worth driving. The organisation was excellent with no more than the usual glitches one might expect. Weather was fabulous throughout, with bright sunshine and temperatures in the high teens every day.

Driving standards were impeccable, we had at most four or five red flags during the whole trip and they were usually dealt with very quickly. A few cars broke down and as far as I know only one was crashed.

Would I go again, yes absolutely, though perhaps not every year as its seriously expensive. Although it was nice to have my car there it is a bit nerve-wracking so if I do go again I will probably rent a BaT Caterham and find someone to share with.

All my pics are here ('http://www.tertius.me.uk/pages/Iberia_2011/index.html')and I will post up more video as and when I get the chance to process and upload it.

Nige
10-02-2011, 12:48 PM
Great report Dan. Thanks :thumb:

Blue flag for Mr Carrera GT... :veryhappy:

I did like the look of the trip, but it would eat up my entire annual trackday budget (and then some...)

Hammerzeit
10-02-2011, 01:11 PM
That looks amazing! Really want to do something like this!

Dan
10-02-2011, 01:11 PM
looks like a cracking trip :thumb:

Would love to do something like that.

Kev_G
10-02-2011, 01:41 PM
I love your reports and Videos. Ascari looks a gorgeous track but like you said it does seem a little bit of a let down from your video.

What sort of cost are these events or am i looking at silly money :lol:

tertius
10-02-2011, 01:51 PM
Originally posted by Kev_mk3@Feb 10 2011, 02:41 PM
I love your reports and Videos. Ascari looks a gorgeous track but like you said it does seem a little bit of a let down from your video.

What sort of cost are these events or am i looking at silly money :lol:
I haven't actually added it up yet, but somewhere between 3 and 4k.

The three track days cost £1100; transporting the car was £1275; hotel was £3-400; add in fuel, flights, meals, beer, cabs to/from the airport at this end, etc ...

Plus I had to buy a new alternator, but I'm treating that separately ... ;)

Uncle Benz
10-02-2011, 03:44 PM
I went for a nosey at the portimao circuit a couple of years ago whilst still under construction, and it looked awesome then. I wonder if I could get away with towing the m3 out there when we go on holiday...

Joel
10-02-2011, 08:58 PM
That looks fantastic. Glad you had a good time. I was tempted to go but I didn't find out about it until quite late and the timing wasn't good for me. Hopefully they'll do a similar trip again in the future.

tertius
11-02-2011, 08:35 PM
Originally posted by Joel@Feb 10 2011, 09:58 PM
That looks fantastic. Glad you had a good time. I was tempted to go but I didn't find out about it until quite late and the timing wasn't good for me. Hopefully they'll do a similar trip again in the future.
I think that is certain. Jonny certainly arranged some provisional dates for Portimao next year. Not sure if it will be the same three circuits - there was talk of going to Estoril.

I'm still buzzing with the whole event - really an amazing trip.

pye21
11-02-2011, 09:59 PM
Looks like a great trip, sort of thing i would like to do.

I would probably drive between the events though, make a proper trip of it.

Peach-uk
11-02-2011, 11:18 PM
I'm amazed at 2 things - Apart from the price, I'm amazed that it took you over 1min 30 secs to change gear at Ascari :)

Other than this it looked amazing! Great trip :)

tertius
12-02-2011, 06:11 AM
Originally posted by Peach-uk@Feb 12 2011, 12:18 AM
I'm amazed at 2 things - Apart from the price, I'm amazed that it took you over 1min 30 secs to change gear at Ascari :)

Other than this it looked amazing! Great trip :)
ha ha, was it really that long?

That was quite early in the day, and I was certainly minimising changes so I could focus on where the circuit going. That changed through the day, however, I could drive the whole circuit in 3rd/4th if necessary. There are a couple of places where 2nd helps and only one where I could use 5th.

Peach-uk
12-02-2011, 10:11 AM
Yep - looks like there's more torque than I have in mine :)

autotrader
14-02-2011, 09:54 AM
nice write up. my friend was on that trip in a red GT3, irish guy.

Stace
14-02-2011, 11:05 AM
Looks lovely :thumb:

tertius
15-02-2011, 08:33 PM
Originally posted by autotrader@Feb 14 2011, 10:54 AM
nice write up. my friend was on that trip in a red GT3, irish guy.
Ah, yes, I chatted to him a little bit. Seemed like a nice guy. He put it in the gravel at Portimao but no damage done.

tertius
15-02-2011, 08:34 PM
Originally posted by Peach-uk@Feb 12 2011, 11:11 AM
Yep - looks like there's more torque than I have in mine :)
I may have answer to that for you ... :whistle:

tertius
15-02-2011, 10:34 PM
Lap of Jerez: http://vimeo.com/19993908 ('http://vimeo.com/19993908')

Truly awesome circuit.

tertius
24-02-2011, 07:40 AM
And finally, Portimao:

http://vimeo.com/20319560 ('http://vimeo.com/20319560')