Sunday, 22 June 2008

Llandow with Mazda On Track


I just had an epic weekend at Llandow with Mazda on Track, a start-up trackday company run by two top blokes, Nick and Al.

The plan was to travel down Friday, camp Friday and Saturday nights and back up Sunday. It didn't quite go to plan!

All was well on the way down - I left at 10,30am and, by chance, met up with me old mate, Lazza at Cardiff Gate services. We arrived at the track at 7.30pm and quickly got the tents set up. The evening was spent chewing the fat, eating kebabs, drinking beer and playing glo-in-the-dark frisbee!

Next morning after breakfast Lazza and I headed into Bridgend for fuel. We couldn't find an super unleaded at the first couple of petrol stations so I left Lazza to find some on his own (he needs it for his supercharged beast!).

Back at track, we had the briefing and we were all set to go. There was no sign of Lazza. I checked my phone and there was a text message - "Car is broken". A quick call later and it was established that his throttle body was stuffed and he was waiting for the RAC. Major bummer!


Still, I had travelled 400 miles so I got stuck in to testing out the car properly for the first time this year. Llandow is a great circuit - a combination of a very slow technical section (Bus stop/Devil's elbow) combined with a couple fast straights and a fast, 3rd gear corner (strangely called Glue Pot).

The Bus Stop section is very tricky to get right. The temptation is just to floor it but this just results in terrible understeer. The trick seems to be to stay off the gas until you're heading for the second apex then blip the throttle which brings the rear end round. Then you can nail the throttle and set up the car for Devils Elbow. This is another corner which is tricky and again you have to stay off the gas until the car is straightened up. By the end of the day, I had just about got it right but I still couldn't keep up with some of the other guys through that section!

The Glue Pot, on the other had, is one of my favourite types of corners. If you get the line right, you can go flat out all the way! It takes some balls though as the run-off is fairly meagre!

The car felt absolutely superb. I had the P5 dampers set to 8 front and 10 rear, tyres set to 26psi all round and it just stuck like glue. Through the Bus Stop it was easy to provoke oversteer, catch the slide and drift a bit - no nasty handling at all. I needed to get that confidence and I'm sure it will stand me in good stead for the rest of the season.


With Lazza heading home on a flat bed truck, I decide not to bother staying Saturday night so I packed up during the afternoon break and had one final session on track before leaving around 4.45pm.

After several stops to catch some sleep, I made it home at 3.30am! I did say epic!

All in all, I had a good weekend although I felt sorry for Lazza and I could have done without the journey (and the fuel costs!).

I've got a bit of a break now as I've decided not to do Forrestburn next weekend. Next outing (budget permitting) will probably be at Scammonden Dam on 13 July.

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