Aaron Morgan: My pre-season trackday
My pre-season testing for the 2012 Marangoni production BMW championship took place on the weekend of 18th February at Brands Hatch. It was an early start to arrive at the track at 8.30 in the morning and after arrival I had to sign on for the day. Despite the sun shining, it was still cold and conditions on the track were damp. After the drivers’ briefing it felt like a really long wait until 10 o’clock, the start time at Brands Hatch on a Sunday.
After the briefing the track was open and all drivers had to complete the mandatory sighting laps behind a pace car. These laps gave me a chance to remember the lines of the track and check that everything in the car was working as it should be. During these two laps, as I began to increase my pace a little I slid around a corner showing me just how slippery the track was.
After this little wakeup call, I took my first few laps that I wasn’t behind the pace car very steadily. Paddock Hill Bend was particularly scary, following my rollover there in the wet eight months before. But during my initial session on track, I began to steadily increase my speed and become more comfortable with the conditions. Once my session had finished, I had a brief rest in the pits and this also gave the track a chance to dry out a bit more.
After my quick break I took back to the track and a dry line was starting to emerge so I began to increase my speed. During this session I also began to change my lines a little bit to maximise my speed.
After the lunch break had finished, my mechanic Robin came in the car with me for a session and praised the speed I had on the track. However, he did point out that I needed to go faster around Paddock Hill Bend and understood why I was a little cautious around that particular corner. He then quickly showed me the correct line and speed to use around the corner and this gave me the confidence to match the speed he had used around the corner as I knew what the car was able to do.
During my final few sessions of the day I particularly concentrated on increasing my speed around Paddock Hill Bend and tried to work on maintaining a consistent speed around the track.
After the chequered flag had dropped on my final session I looked back on what had been a really successful day for me. I was able to increase my confidence driving in slippery conditions, to drive good lines around the track, lay to bed my demons around Paddock Hill Bend, ensure the car was working correctly, get plenty of time driving and get used to driving with a manual gearbox again. Overall the day has really made me look forward to the season opener there on the 24-25th March 2012.