Updated: Mar 18, 2019
We knew the weather at Lydden Hill was forecast for rain but for Dan’s first shakedown of the car MY GOD he would have been better suited in a Kayak over his track prepared Focus ST170.
I’ve been to a few track days before in the rain but this was practically monsoon weather with standing water on three of the more “trickier” corners and with Dan never actually driven the car before, it was shaping up to be an eventful track day for sure.
The sessions were broken up into three classes. Novice, Intermediate and Advanced! Even though Dan had never driven this car before, he had driven his highly modified Focus RS during some of the BHP Shows open track sessions so he felt confident he wouldn’t make a mess of it and went straight into the Intermediate class…ballsy eh? We thought so too…
With the final last minute checks done and a confident kick of the rear tyres he was off on his first track session and he was doing so well… for at least 2 or maybe even 3 laps when he suddenly took to the pit lane surely the car isn’t knackered already? No, turns out he had heard a weird thump from the first suspension and was concerned something had snapped.
Panic over, a light inspection and nothing is wrong. Perhaps the BC Coilovers are just settling in? Perhaps a large stone? With little else they could do, it was back out into the rain for the remainder of the session. He survives the trial by fire (water) track session and even seemed quite pleased with the outcome and how the car performed although the addition of some ‘wet racing tyres’ is discussed.
The Intermediate class is called up for their 2nd session where a spirited “dab of oppo” on the bottom right hander sees Dan into a tank slapper, widely fish tailing left-right-left till eventually landing him sideways across the track miraculously avoiding two tyre walls and a gravel trap…more importantly my ‘NICKSIMMO” branding is still in tack #thankyoujesus
He brings the car back to the pits and after a couple more dramatic arse-clenching laps of you guessed it “near misses” and it would appear the water on track is having quite an effect inside the car also or in other words “she’s taking on water” it would appear the ST170 was a little more err rotten than first expected! Water removed and duct tape applied and hopefully that was the end that.
Now to tackle Dans happy go lucky attitude to ‘lift-off-oversteer’ with aid from Roger, Dan is able to adjust the rear toe & camber set up to help keep the back of the car under control.
After a short lunch break, 3 more sessions get completed and the weather finally seems to be onside we even suggest the idea of whacking on the ‘slicks’ however the mere mention of this causes the clouds to go all ‘Day After Tomorrow’ on us so we decided to play it safe and stay on the semi-slicks as Dan heads out for the final session of the day. It’s a bit like asking your parents to stay up 10 more minutes and they say yes so you decide to go mental and eat 15 snickers then wash it down with Red-Bull, basically Dan throws caution to the wind and goes balls out for this could be the last time he ever drives this car again…I mean it’s not obviously but damn it that’s how it feels.
He manages to break free from the group and had the track to himself knocking out some of his fastest laps so far just as the checkered flag waves and the session ends!
What a day and more importantly a successful shakedown of the car bar the odd spin and gathering of water in the footwells of course, the calendar is already earmarked for the next session looks like we’re heading to Brands Hatch. So let’s see what challenges that brings.