So it’s off to the home of motor racing in Great Britain, the circuit is based in Northamptonshire and like most circuits was a former 2nd world war airfield.
I have a theory about motor racing that as a spectator has always been proven to be correct, it is either hot and sunny, cold and wet or any combination of all in one day. Of course if you were building an airfield you need somewhere flat, somewhere that has a likely potential for planes to take off and land quickly.
After the last race at Snetterton the car needs a little fettle but not too much so I drop it off with DPH Services for Dave and his guys to make sure my wheels don’t fall off, as part of his business he offers a valet and even to me, I decline because every time I have taken the car to a day it has rained on route so I will clean the car at the track plus it gives me something to do on the day.
Being the home of motor racing the circuit is the longest in the country but we are on the National version of the circuit, I have driven it before but only when doing the full Grand Prix track.
A bit like any top racing driver I have a racing simulator at home, most F1 teams have a simulator probably worth in the thousands, maybe millions, probably a dozen race engineers but being on a budget mine isn’t like the ones in F1, mine is a PS4, a large T.V, my race engineers are my daughter Isla and Amber our new team member a 4 month old Spaniel, to be honest the Spaniel is not much use unless it needs eating or taking away something to somewhere so you have to look for it.
I do need to practice the track, I get comfortable in my simulator, load a racing game (it’s the only game I own) chose Silverstone National track, I set off around Copse up to Maggots, approach Becketts, forget to turn right onto the Club Straight on and end up in the gravel, luckily still in the comfort of the simulator this is not a disaster, just hit reset.
Silverstone race track
The day before any race day, I load up my van and trailer, the van is a VW Transporter that has been fully converted by Advanced KFS so I can sleep in it if I want to, the trailer also built by Advanced KFS uses running gear from my main sponsor ALKO, this has in-built lockers that house tools, a trolley jack and more importantly my special dry race track tyres.
I leave from home as Silverstone is only 1.5hrs away even towing the trailer, the alarm goes off at 5.00am, I grab a coffee, wake my race engineer, Isla is 7 but has been to a race meeting with me before but only to spectate never to watch her Dad race, I am not sure how she will like it.
We arrive and park next to Verum Builders Racetruck a 7.5ton lorry built by Advanced KFS back in 2011, this was a pure coincidence but I am very glad we did, especially when the owner Rob came out with a hot cuppa, much needed at 7.30am on a cold but sunny Silverstone.
Before you can race each car is taken through a process called scrutineering, this basically is making sure the car is fit for purpose, they also check your race clothing and helmet to make sure it meets the required standards, they checks belts, they check everything that might fall off and check the electrical cut out.
Unusually their scrutineer was a lady, she tried the external cut out and said could I try it and see if I could make it work but I couldn’t do it either so the car failed, I have to take it away and see if I can get it to work.
Being parked next to Rob was a bonus on many counts, the tea, the cake but best of all he had a spare cable, with his help I replace the cable and get the car back to scrutineering and get the valued sticker fit to race, that’s the car - not sure about me!
YIPPEE It's dry!
I decide to fit my Khumo special super-duper dry tyres that will, according to some will be better than the Toyos I used in the previous race, these tyres had done only one lap at Snetterton when I did a test there, the reason they only had one lap was on the damp track on the very 1st lap I fell off the track, my confidence of these in damp conditions was low, in fact I would say zero.
I go to the assembly area to go out for qualifying, I get there 1st with plenty of time to spare, I watch with interest how the current session is going for the cars similar to mine, front wheel drive, they all seem to go around Brooklands on 3 wheels, I really can’t wait to get out.
I put on my helmet connect it to my Hans device, this is to stop neck injuries in case of a crash, put on my gloves and get in the car. As I do up my 6 point harness this keeps you so tight you cannot move at all, but as I set off I find I cannot turn my head, the safety device is not allowing me to move my head properly, this feels wrong but I convince myself it’s just me and it always like this.
As I go out 1st I am technically leading the pack but this is only qualifying as you can see the range of cars this is not going to be easy, the rain on any circuit is a leveller of cars but we all have to drive on the day and even with the result previously I would rather race in the dry.
Apart from not feeling that great in the car due to not being able to move, I went along the main straight around Copse, around Maggots then guess what, I forgot Becketts, trouble with having driven the full circuit I got a bit carried away and nearly forgot to brake for the corner, good thing about the Golf is if you go too deep you can get aggressive with the steering and it normally comes good and it did just that, it’s a bit like the reset button but a bit more real!!
Advanced KFS Race car mid-race
I qualified 19th out of 21 with my time of 1.09.977, this was on lap 6 out of the 25 laps I managed, whilst the placing was not as high as I would like if I could find a second I would have been 14th if I could have found 2 seconds I would have been 10th, so like any racing driver, I have worked out what is wrong what I need is more power, better tyres, better brakes, less weight both me and the car.
After the session I found the strap on the device was wrapped around hence restricted movement, this must be worth at least 2 seconds.
I was pleased with the way it went average speed of 84.39mph, most of the session it was a mix of 3rd, 4th and 5th gear, going around Copse in 4th gear was good and touching the odd rumble strip or kerb, trying different lines but whatever I tried didn’t seem to make a huge difference but at least we did the required 3 laps unlike my 1st time in the simulator.
Question is, did my super-duper dry tyres make any difference to the car during qualifying?
The answer is really unknown as this is the 1st time I have driven the car when it is dry and warm, I have no idea if they are faster but they feel ok but I can tell that there are many cars going faster than me.
Before the race started the heavens opened, this was around an hour before I started, so after much debate with several people I decided to change my tyre to the Toyos, of course if it dries these may be slower than the Khumo tyres.
Another rolling start, it promises to be good for me, towards the back I just need to sit in my relative position, the pace goes around at 60kph and with no speedo this gives me the right revs in 2nd gear to run through the pit for the dreaded pit stop.
This time I was aware of the Hans device, I can now move my head from side to side so I can see both mirrors properly, this will be important when all those faster cars come past me.
Green lights go, go go!
I am at the back of the grid, with the cars here from the normal suspects, Caterhams, M3, some Porsches, this is going to be fun but who knows what will happen.
The 1st corner seems to be the place that most incidents happen so once the lights go off, I go to Copse and manage to make it around with plenty of space and holding my position, so I spend the next 4 laps racing with a spaceframe Mini special built race car
I got by after a couple of laps and that felt good, doing an overtake feels really good and satisfying, the Mini was 6 places in front on the grid or 1.8 seconds faster than me, ultimately he ended up in the gravel at the Becketts corner, obviously he doesn’t have the benefit of the simulator or race engineer like me still tough luck but the track at that point doesn’t really make sense
The dreaded compulsory pitstop, you must stop the car and get out, I had help this time already organised, this part of the race is a real distraction.
So I decide that I will come in early around lap 10, with my help in place this should be a doddle, pit window opens around lap 8 so I come in and my friend Marc is waiting for me, it seems no matter how you practice the heat of the stop just gets in the way, between us we managed to get me out of the pits with a better than the last time stationary time but still needs more work.
Back to the race I exit the pits and spend around 10 laps doing my own thing getting past by some faster cars but more importantly staying on the black and off the green, then around lap 20 out of the pits come a stunning Porsche 911, now being piloted by Tony Blake, he was driving really well and I enjoyed our on-track battle immensely.
Porsche racing at Silverstone
It was a great tussle we had for the remains of the race, at one point I was laughing out loud when I imagined how frantic the steering wheel was being worked, he left a lovely pair of black lines out of Brooklands, he drove superbly and it added to my fun for the day, many times I tried to out brake him but it wasn’t to be and he got to the line 1 second in front, so I ended up with 18th out of 19 cars that finished happy to see my fastest lap was faster on my normal tyres not my super duper dry tyres.
Race track tussle
Another successful race weekend, with both me and the car coming out unscathed, I learnt a lot I found the car performs well and I need to do some work on the brakes so the next race for me in this series is Anglesey 23rd July, so the car will have new brakes, some new lightweight doors and a driver with a focussed pit stop strategy.
I did feel a bit sorry for my race engineer afterwards, apparently Isla hid behind the seats in the grandstand because the Golf has a tendency to lift the inside rear wheel very high off the ground when cornering hard, you can’t feel it in the car but outside it looks good.
My lap times are fairly consistent with most around 1.10 so that is satisfying.
1 - 1:16.479 77.21 mph
2 - 1:09.900 84.48 mph
3 - 1:09.100 85.46 mph Fastest Lap
4 - 1:10.311 83.99 mph
5 - 1:10.566 83.68 mph
6 - 1:10.594 83.65 mph
7 - 1:10.990 83.19 mph
8 - 1:11.956 82.07 mph
9 - 1:17.761 75.94 mph
10 - 2:35.168 38.05 mph Pitstop lap
11 - 1:11.810 82.24 mph
12 - 1:11.985 82.04 mph
13 - 1:11.300 82.82 mph
14 - 1:11.494 82.60 mph
15 - 1:12.520 81.43 mph
16 - 1:11.870 82.17 mph
17 - 1:13.490 80.36 mph
18 - 1:13.417 80.44 mph
19 - 1:12.119 81.88 mph
20 - 1:12.469 81.49 mph
21 - 1:11.717 82.34 mph
22 - 1:13.198 80.68 mph
23 - 1:11.159 82.99 mph
24 - 1:10.332 83.96 mph
25 - 1:12.440 81.52 mph
26 - 1:11.555 82.53 mph
27 - 1:11.505 82.59 mph
28 - 1:10.017 84.34 mph
29 - 1:10.452 83.82 mph
30 - 1:10.172 84.15 mph
31 - 1:10.231 84.08 mph
32 - 1:10.172 84.15 mph
All this again was made possible with the support of my sponsors:
Also a special thanks to Anne Hardy wife of Rob from Verum Builders for not just supplying cake and tea but also looking after Isla for me most of the day, and of course without the new pull cord for the electrical system, I would have probably not got through to race so easily.
And also www.davidstallardphotography.com David has once again provided some great shots for my write up.
For more information contact firstname.lastname@example.org
Telephone: 01264 350666
Ian Knight driving at Silverstone Race Circuit