- Saturday, 20 September 2014

Next season's car

I'm very excited, and a little nervous too. The last time I felt like this was skydiving in NZ, hanging outside the plane with my backside dangling in the breeze and nothing to hold onto, strapped to my instructor whose surname I will always remember was Judas... That moment before he let go and we plunged from 15,000ft into the unknown felt about the closest thing to right now - electric but kind of terrifying too, in a fun way.

'Chunky' sticker will be going!
After a few months of viewing cars, phone calls & emails, I've found the one. There were initially a few simple criteria for finding a car, but the more I learnt the more things I had to factor in - affordability was still high on the list but simply finding the cheapest car was not way to do this (I learnt that last time). I wanted the youngest chassis, the freshest engine & box, something that was racing at present ideally and a good spares package. I was scheduled to look at a very promising 2001 car in Le Mans, helped by the fact that the Euro is currently very low and booked the entire journey only to find myself evacuated from Luton airport on the day of the recent the bomb scare. A bad omen perhaps? 

As that unfolded I'd also booked to see a few younger cars with two local teams - an 05 & 07 car. It quickly dawned on me that it would be a very bad decision to buy something that came without any support, there is so much I need to learn about this car as I will be a long way from home next year. In the end I came full circle and opted to go with one from MGR Motorsport, the very first people I'd gone to see and only 20 minutes from my work.

I first spoke to Mark Godwin who owns & runs the team while I was racing in Jersey and explained that I was looking for a FR to compete with in France. He had kindly agreed to sit down and listen to my plan and talk me around the cars in the workshop once I was back home. His enthusiasm to work with me as a driver, provide some training on maintaining & running a car and support me going forwards was a critical part of the decision. This is a huge step up for me (these cars will hit 160mph on a circuit) especially given that I will be overseas, and there is so much I want to learn about the car. Having the support of a team obviously gives me a lot of confidence - there is such a buzz every time I visit their workshop and I can't wait to start getting my head round the car.

At 2007 it's the youngest chassis (no. 490) I've looked at, and although some of the body work has a few battle scars its the fact that it had a fully rebuilt engine & gearbox at the start of the season that matters. Current driver Tarrun Reddy has his final race of the season this weekend at Croft so I'm crossing my fingers for him that it goes smoothly! MGR will be prepping the car afterwards, then the plan is do join them for part of their winter testing programme. Having never driven a single seater I need some proper time on track to get used to the cars limits - the downforce, brakes and sequential box will be too much to take in with a few visits to Curborough. I'm hoping that a full day with the team to fine tune the setup and learn about the data logging will be time well spent and give me a good foot hold to work from next season.

Then there is of course the issue of a colour scheme! I love putting my own design on a car and I'd like to carry on using the Martini stripes in some way. With so many plates spinning I'm trying to keep a careful eye on costs, so it may be a case of working with the current colour as a base - I know what I want to do and I'm fairly handy with vinyl and a hair drier so we'll have to see... 

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