Donington Testing - Focus Cup
11th March was a 05:30 start heading off for another test day in the Ford Focus at Donington Park. It has been a long time since I've driven this circuit and this is where i was convinced to start racing again when a friend Tony Lynch (Multiple Rallycross Champion) asked me to give him some pointers around the circuit back in 2017. Thanks again Tony for giving me the racing bug back!
Anyway, we arrived at the circuit ready for signing on, and for once it was a dry day and I was looking forward to it as i haven't tested the car in the dry before due to the great British weather we all love. The circuit is a fast flowing circuit and requires a brave right foot in some parts of the circuit,, bearing in mind 4th is the lowest gear you will be using so high cornering speeds and making sure you don't scrub any unnecessary speed off through the corner and exit is a must.
First session - I was back in the pits as fast as i went out due to a vibration under braking, Turns out new pads had been fitted and they soon bedded back in.
Session 2 - I was re-learning the circuit and trying to push harder in each section and learn what the car was doing, Then 2 laps from the end of the session, the brake pedal decided to drop and with the brake binding I was struggling to come off the corners. Back in the pits and with a brake bleed I was back out for session 3.
Session 3 - Back on track and brakes sorted, I spent the whole session pushing harder through each section but just struggling with scrubbing speed off through some sections, So, back in the pits for some quick suspension changes and straight back out. Result, Much better throughout corner entry, mid corner and much better on exit, The car was feeling much better balanced and lap times were coming down to respectably quick times.. Pleased with the morning session it was time for a lunch break before the afternoon sessions.
After lunch I only did 2 sessions, but they were long sessions where I was in and out the pits testing different suspension settings, as well as being hampered with changing conditions changing from dry to slight rain then drying again before heavy rain later in the day.
Session 4 - Back out in the dry and we continued to improve the setup on the car and whilst I was improving through the sectors with improving lap times, it started to rain. As the rain came down it started to become a little of a knife edge, but I needed to stay out and persevere to learn as much as I could about the changing conditions and how the car reacted and where the grip on the circuit was. It soon dried and I was back down very soon to the times I was doing before the rain. Another long but good session.
Session 5 - Rain is coming down so back out on track to learn some more. Car is still set up for the dry so was a handful in some parts of the circuit, so back into the pits for some setup changes, Back out and initially the car felt much better but after a few laps I had gone too far on the setup changes, as even though it initially felt better it became very snappy on on the brakes and turn in and didn't feel balanced. Back in to make changes on the front first and then back in again to make changes to the rear and I finally found a comfortable balanced setup for the wet, well as best as you can get it in the wet as it is always like being on a knife edge trying to find grip as well as balance steering, braking and throttle. As the rain continued there was a couple or red flags and on the last red flagI came in as there was only 20 mins of the session left.
All in all a good days testing with the best of all weathers and pleased with what we achieved across the day for a good base..
A big thank you to all our partners this year, Pemberton Tyres,, Fueltone, Bloc Eyewear, King Dick Tools, Opie Oils, Amt Autos, Individual Auto Design, Bespoke Extreme and BrandDrivers. If you would like to get involved and add to our list of partners please get in touch.