Silverstone Shakedown!

It’s Wednesday the 2nd March. We are running an experience day at Bedford Autodrome on the 19th March and I felt a 2011 shakedown was in order to test the car and make sure it’s race prepared for our clients. After frantically calling Anthony Dunn, Bradley Ellis, KB Developments and EasyTrack to organise a day at Oulten Park, I fail miserably at such short notice. What to do?

After what amounted to stalking “Dunny” (Anthony Dunn) and Brad (Bradley Ellis) with phone call after phone call, I finally hit on an RMA Track Day that Dunny was attending the following Monday at Silverstone. Anthony was testing in preparation for this years Radical UK Cup. Bingo! Although he wouldn’t be able to instruct for us, it would mean that KB Developments (our support team) would be there to help us check the car over and get it singing ready for our first paying client event at Bedford. All I needed was Bradley to be free! He was and as an added kicker, the weather was set to be amazing.

radical-at-silverstone

We arrived at Silverstone just before 8am. Not nearly early enough, as we only just managed to snatch the last remaining pit garage. Phew! We open up the garage shutters and were taken completely aback by the site of this – a Mercedes SLS AMG in the garage next door. It had been delivered from Stuttgart, brand spanking new, two days prior and is the only one of its kind in the world. It has been built to race in the GT3 racing series and there was an army of people around it, frantically getting it ready for its first track debut.

mercedes-sls-amg-race

As we prepared our Racial SR3 RS ready to go out on track, the first breath of life came from the Mercedes SLS AMG around 10am. With both our car and the SLS engine both roaring away in unison, I thought to myself “this is going to be a day to remember!”

radica-sr3-rs

I squeeze into the Radical next to Bradley and we headed out. No sooner out… than back in again –  with a Porsche GT3 RS giving Silverstone’s GP circuit a liberal coating of oil. Half an hour later, we are back out and motoring. Bradley goes through the sighting laps, explaining the braking points, turn in points and over around lines to take. Then he asks if I want to do some fast laps…..He begins warming up the tyres down the straight. We snake from side to side with such force my whole body feels like its been put into a steak tenderiser. I look at the speedo….we are doing 110mph! Well that explains that! Bradley begins winding up the pace and before I know it, all thoughts of trying to memorise the track fly out the window. I’m locked into a speeding bullet from which I cannot escape. I struggle to comprehend the sheer speed we begin to go into corners; I don’t remember it being this fast!!!

radical-and-mercedes-silverstone

Next into the mix; the Mercedes SLS AMG! Bradley took one look at it and I felt the pace increase yet again. He was like a bloodhound, and something was bleeding all over the place! Back and forth we went, as we over took it for the first time, then it regained the place back down the straight. We exchanged places three or four times during a truly special experience with such a rare motor, and two drivers whom were both quick, whilst maintaining a level of mutual respect on track which is required on open pit lane days such as this. I was thinking of just how many thousands of Youtube hits we would generate with this footage!

After 8 laps or so, Bradley asks if I’m okay. I give him the thumbs up, just seconds before he takes the first corner completely flat out! No sign of a lift into the second either, then a dab of brake, through the chicane complex and onto the straight. I grin wildly and recall swearing quite a lot.

silverstone-circuit-map

We pull back into the garage and I get out of the car. I think it was a combination of being a bit cold, not having eaten that morning (something which is not advisable before you go out in our Radical SR3 RS) and sheer adrenaline, but it took me nearly 20 mins and a warm coat to stop shaking. I had, had my fix and felt satisfied to the full. Now…..who would be our next victim?!

 As I stand on the pit straight watching the cars fly past, I try and understand, as the Mrecedes SLS AMG goes past, how they have managed to capture an entire thunderstorm and put it under the bonnet. Seriously, it sounded like the world was ending as it went past. Then as it pulled back into the garage, sounded like there was an engine monkey throwing spanners around inside. I have never heard such a contrast of sounds coming from the same car.

mercedes-sls-amg-race

After lunch I got to drive, as did Dave, and everyone at least went out as a passenger. Here is on board footage of my first experience under the tuition of Bradley Ellis, at the Silverstone GP Arena Circuit.

 

As the day went on, I discovered to my sheer horror that none of the footage we had of the battle with the SLS AMG was usable. The inside of the camera cover was covered in condensation due to the cold weather. When I found out I felt like crying!!! Anyway, after some cleaning and drying, to make up for it, we sent Dave out at the end of the day to be shown what can be acheieved in a Radical SR3 RS at the hands of the British GT Champion, Bradley Ellis. Here’s the footage: