I took the Saxo down to Penrith for a wee club AutoSOLO, courtesy of Wigton Motor CLub, on Sunday. An AutoSOLO is like an Autotest without any reversing - lots of cones and lots of scope for going the wrong way. The key to success is smooth, accurate driving - not really my forte!
It is brilliant fun and great for practising car control albeit at relatively low speed.
The weather was pretty wet and windy but that in no way dampened spirits and the 15 or so competitors all entered into the fun spririt of the day. Everyone takes a turn at marshalling which is a great way to see other drivers up close.
My natural tendency is to just go hell for leather as fast as I can but this style is not really suited to AutoSOLO as it is very easy to go the wrong way round a series of cones or indeed hit the cones and incur a time penalty. My first few runs were littered with the dreaded phrase 'wrong test' meaning I had failed to complete the course correctly.
I did evenually get the hang of it and post some respectable times but the damage was already done and I was never really in contention for a win.
The Saxo performed well. I learned about how the diff can catch you out and pull the car sharply in one direction. I learned about how to steer it on the throttle round a 360 degree turn - grip is really impressive
The Saxo's steering is far too heavy for tight AutoSOLO courses and by the end the day my arms and hands were aching. I also found that the steering wheel boss has a small amount of play so I need to get that off and have a look before Harewood.
Other wee issues are that the car sometimes won't idle but it seems better once warmed up. The battery managed to last the day with a wee boost for 10mins at lunchtime so I'm fairly confident that I can just remove the alternator completely rather than fork out for a new one.
I've managed to move the seat forward a wee bit but I could do with moving it another inch or so - a minor winter project.
I'm thinking of running the car in the modified class next year so I might have a few other things to do over the winter......