After talking to a few people about different sprint venues, the Lotus test track at Hethel came up as a good venue which is fast and challenging. Looking at some on-board videos I could see why it was popular.
So I headed off to deepest Norfolk and the home of Lotus. The track is very very smooth, and is designed to F1 test standards. So not the normal home for a rally car. After unloading to probably the most expensive car there a McLaren MP4-12c, I looked over parts of the track to get my bearings.
The day was made up of two practice runs and then two timed runs. The first timed run was a bit of a sighter lap, the second timed run showed me getting closer to the class lead but not close enough. This was being lead by a highly modified Fiesta 1.0 Turbo, showing just how much you can get out of a small modern engine (170bhp+). With this being a fast circuit the lack of power did show up. However it was a good challenge to try and carry as much speed and as the car, tyres and myself would allow through some great twisty sections. The best part was around the pits, which was a flowing section taken flat out in 4th.
After the first timed run I had closed down the gap to two seconds (it was 4 seconds at one point), so it was all down to the final run. This is what I like about sprints, it really focuses your driving on to one run, trying to think where to get time back, and carry speed the most. On the last I really tried hard, and used my best rally cutting techniques to ‘trim’ the grass a little, but it was all a little too late as I got the gap down to 1.1 seconds. However it was a good battle, and a challenge to get me to think hard about my driving. The Micra and the rather standard Yoko A539’s performed faultlessly, and the competition pushed me on hard and beat 3rd in class by nearly 18 seconds…
Sadly there was no photography or on-boards allowed on the venue, but I do have some data logging traces recorded on my iPhone (hence the odd view).
Here is one from my first practice run.