Unusually for me at this time of year, earlier this week and less than a month after finishing up the season at Oulton Park, I was out testing for next year. We started looking at our options super early in the year and had already earmarked British GT as the preferred option. A great series, with lots of exposure and some super quick drivers. So off I went to Snetterton to test a McLaren 570s GT4.
When you try to test in the UK in November, the weather is always going to play a part and the first day was not an exception. With a forecast that said rain from 1pm, I was super positive about getting both some dry and wet running to get a feel for the car, but thick fog rolled in preventing any running until about 11:30. Once it was gone, we did manage to get in two solid runs on a mixed damp and drying track before the rain came. The car was great fun, but it was very different to what I’m used to. Going from a lightweight, mobile car with no assists to a heavier car with ABS and TC was always going to be a bit strange at first. I learned a massive amount and by the end of the two runs was starting to get my head around driving the car how it wanted to be driven.
Having never driven on a full racing wet tyre before, the car felt awesome to me when the rain came. It’s also a bit odd being able to plant your foot flat to the floor and having the TC prevent you from getting almost any wheel spin. It immediately felt more comfortable to me, I’m used to a car that likes to move around a bit and in the wet conditions I was getting a much more familiar sensation from the McLaren.
The Second day started for me at lunchtime. We decided to wait for the track to start to dry before going out in the car. Similar to the day before, it was drying and quite damp in places by the time we headed out for the first run. I was immediately comfortable and enjoying driving the car more than the day before. I think that having the opportunity to go away, process what I had learnt and sleep on it was useful for me. I was immediately quicker than the day before, on a worse track. After two long runs on some very old rubber, we decided to put some new boots on and go for a quali sim. The first of my two flying laps was slightly under driven, it’s difficult to immediately know the grip you’re going to have when you’ve never driven on new slicks before in an unfamiliar car. The second lap was the fastest lap of the two days. I’m very happy with my performance on it, the first two sectors where very strong but a slight mistake in the final sector cost me a few tenths, I had slightly overdriven it as I started to lose the peak performance of the tyre.
I ended the day with a pair of long runs that went really well. Delivering consistently fast times throughout. All in all I’m mostly happy with how the two days went. I adapted well to a new car and team in a high pressure scenario for me. It always felt like I was being judged, even if that isn’t necessarily true. It’s nice to head into the off-season now with a solid understanding of the car and bring confident that I’m more than capable of driving the car on the limit. Finally, a massive thanks to HHC Motorsport for both days, all the guys where amazingly helpful and a pleasure to work with.