Ginetta GTA - Testing December
Just after the last Focus Cup race at Donington I received a phone call from Nathan at Century Motorsport. I used to race with Nathan a number of years ago and he now runs a successful Ginetta and GT race team. I had been speaking with Nathan previously about Ginetta and the possibility of racing in the championship.
It's Saturday afternoon and the conversation is can I get to Donington on Monday to have a test in the Ginetta GTA?
A little short notice but I am not going to miss the chance of getting a test in the new Ginetta GTA, so with the help of Century motorsport and Ginetta Cars I am on my way back to Donington.
Arriving mid morning it was cold and wet (no change there), time to sign on and get suited up, have a look round the car and have a chat with the team about the session before lunch.
After lunch and after the car is checked over I climb into the car, get strapped in while the engineer runs through all the controls. It's a dashboard of buttons on the steering wheel and on another separate dash to remember.
The GTA is a 3.7ltr, 270BHP, 405NM torque with flat paddle shift and fly by wire throttle with a 50 / 50 weight distribution. Before heading out onto track I am briefed to take it easy for a few laps to warm up the tyres, brakes etc and get used to being back in a rear wheel drive race car.
Rolling out the pits and I head out onto circuit going up the box and head down towards the curves already with a smile on my face. Probably going a little quicker than I should of been, I stand on the brakes and not a lot happens as the brakes are not warm enough and the track is still damp in places and tyres cold, I just about stop it in time and over shoot the corner and decide I had better give this the respect it deserves and warm the tyres and brakes for the first few laps while I get used to the car.
A few laps in and you can feel the grip getting better with every corner, the brakes are now working so I start pushing harder and start learning the car. Each corner is now coming up much quicker and I am being given a real physical workout in the car as I go quicker and quicker each lap. Driving round the outside of other trackday users in Porsches really does give you a feel for how quick these cars are and the corner speed you can carry.
As I am picking up pace and pushing harder, one thing you need to be doing is left foot braking as if you don't, the power can come in quite abruptly from the fly by wire throttle as your trying to feed the power after being on the brakes. This unsettles the balance of the car when you need to have it well balanced, so left foot braking allows you to keep some power on while rolling off the brake and keeping the car more settled.
Heading down to the hairpin I brake too late, turn in with too much steering input as well as then giving it too much boot and end up doing a nice 360 before parking it backwards on the grass and trying to find neutral by pressing the right button and paddle sequence on the steering wheel of buttons so I can start it again.
Back on it and I start to get more comfortable with car, you really do need to give it the respect it deserves, the car sits very flat and with its 50 / 50 weight distribution and is very responsive to steering input. You get good feedback from the car but it can just as easily spit you off the track if you are not ready for it with so no time for a slight lapse in concentration. One lap I am coming through Coppice which is a quick corner and then heading down to Fogarty Esses, I go for another gear not much before braking, then realise I am already in 6th, at this point you realise how fast you are travelling before standing on the brakes before the quick left right of the Esses.
A few more laps and I am happy with my progress, I come out of the corner onto the main straight and get on the power too early or should I say too much, too early while on the kerbs. While the car snaps one way then the next I spot the guys waving at me on the pit wall to come in. I hadn't spotted them on the previous lap but apparently they had been waving me in for the last 3 laps! Sorry guys I had my hands full keeping hold of things.
Next lap I rolled into the pits and had a quick debrief with the engineer before getting out of the car.
It had been a really good session and I learned a lot about the car. There is much more to learn on the setup and a lot more to come from me having seat time in the car. All in all a good session with some good progression, a great insight to GT racing.
Thanks to Nathan at Century Motorsport and Ginetta Cars, we are now trying to put the racing budget together for this years racing!
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