Working with a brand like Ferrari has only fuelled my passion for high performance cars. I’ve always loved to drive fast so I thought it was finally time to get a race driver’s licence so I could satisfy my need for speed without getting a speeding ticket.
Braving the elements we travelled to Knockhill racecourse near Edinburgh for a bespoke two day course. I was lucky enough to have a great teacher, Rory Butcher, a brilliant young GT driver who has raced in Ferraris, Porsches and Aston Martins. His family has owned Knockhill for over 30 years, so he literally grew up with a race circuit in his back garden.
First we checked out the track with some performance driving in a Seat Leon FR front wheel drive. For a Seat it was seriously fast.
Next up was skid control in a BMW 3 series. By now the rain was really lashing down, making the skid pan even more slippery than usual. The ARDS theory test afterwards was not quite so exciting, but pretty important nevertheless.
The next day began with the second stage of performance driving, now in a Lotus Exige. The weather hadn’t improved but luckily the back end tail didn’t mind the rain one bit and yesterday’s skid control lessons certainly came into their own.
Then it was time to try out a rally car. Driving the purpose built Ford Fiesta 1.6 Zetec with its rally spec suspension roll cage on the tight and twisting track was a whole different experience. You have to turn into hairpin bends with a super swift movement of the steering wheel whilst using a hydraulic break at the same time. Fun but hard work.
Driving on rally stages and race tracks teaches you different types of control. For instance looking ahead is key on a race track. And in rally driving you always have a co-driver who reads from pace notes. In race track driving you are on your own.
Finally I was ready for the most exciting part of the whole thing – getting behind the wheel of a single seater race car. Based on a Formula Ford chassis with its 140 bhp, 1100cc Yamaha bike engine, mine could go from 0-60 in just five seconds achieving a maximum speed of 120mph. It was truly exhilarating.
So, two days of brilliant instruction, high speeds and technique learnt and I am officially a racing driver. I can’t wait to plan that first race.
For more information on driving courses at Knockhill, check out www.knockhill.com