Date: Friday 20th October 2006
Time: 9.30am – 3.30pm
Location: Prestwold Hall, Loughborough , Leicestershire
Vehicles: Ferrari 360, Ferrari 550, Lamborghini Gallardo, Aston Martin DB9, Subaru Impreza, Mitsubishi Evolution
The following is the schedule I was given before I arrived at the driving experience day.
“The day starts at 9.30am for registration and bacon rolls, then it’s straight to the cars so make sure you are on time. One group will head off to the track for a taste of the high life in supercars whilst the other will burn tyres like Colin McRae on the rally course. Lunch will be served then it will be all change: those who were slipping and sliding in the rally cars will burn like Beckham in the supercars and those who have been shaken not stirred in the Aston Martin before lunch will head to the rally course. The day will end around 3.30pm and you should wear comfortable clothes and sensible shoes (no stilettos…). All specialist equipment will be provided.”
So the day was to be split into supercar driving experience & a rally driving experience
The day started nice and early as I was going to give myself around 1 hour extra than I *should* need to get to Prestwold Hall, that is also taking in to account the traffic for early in the morning rush-hour. The weather was wet with light rain as I set off and it not stopping on my journey there, not quite the conditions you want when you are set to be at the wheels of a number of extremely fast and extremely expensive supercars…
I had printed my directions out and it was simple enough and I made good progress, right up to the last little bit where you head out of town and onto roads out in nowhere. I had been expecting signs for a while pointing me in the direction of Prestwold Hall but there wasn’t any. I then spent an hour within 5-10 miles of Prestwold Hall trying to find it. There literately was no signs pointing to the place which I thought was crazy, I had passed a Hummer going the opposite way from me and had contemplated following it as I thought it might be heading to Prestwold Hall but I didn’t in the end and carried on trying to find it myself. Anyway, time was getting on and it was about 9.25 when I finally turned the corner and I saw the entrance to Prestwold Hall, at that very moment the sun peeped through the clouds which I took as a sign that the day was just going to keep getting better.
You drive onto the Prestwold Hall is actually an old airbase and that is what the track is built on. As you enter and drive down you will see some huts/rooms on your left, this is the section where the Rally Driving starts to take place but you don’t park up there, you follow the road down to the next set of huts/rooms and park up there.
After parking up and walking over to register myself in and have a quick brew I noticed the Hummer parked outside, I kicked myself…
With the brew quickly finished I went out and had a look over the cars outside we were set to drive, it was heaven. 2 Ferraris, 2 Aston Martin DB9′s & 2 Lamborghini Gallardos all parked up in a row (in trademark bright colours of Orange and Yellow)!
We were then split into 6 groups and handed an itinerary for the day, with 3 groups sent to the Rally car section and 3 groups (including mine) send to the Supercar section!
Inside we were given a safety briefing and instructions about what we would be doing and also shown a video of the circuit and also a couple of pictures of a Ferrari that someone had managed to write off on a previous track day…After this we we got our helmets and then went outside where we would wait for our go in each car.
When we went outside we were taken round the circuit in one of the Subaru just to give us a familiarization of the track so we had an idea where abouts we would be heading.
Next it was time to get behind the wheel and start the supercar driving experience.
Supercar Driving Experience at Prestwold Hall
Lamborghini Gallardo, Ferrari & Aston Martin Supercar driving experiences
On our itinerary first for the supercar driving experience was the Lamborghini Gallardo, an absolutely stunning and beast of a car and if I’m honest my personal favorite car there!
The airfield track at Prestwold Hall was nice to drive because it had nice long straights, sweeping fast corners and a small chicane. The track is marked out with markers on track as to where to aim for to get the racing line which on a track day such as this are welcome as when you are sat in a multitude of very expensive, very fast dream supercars sometimes your head is running in overtime just on the excitement and adrenaline! Sat next to you is an instructor who is there to make sure you stay safe on track and to advise as and when you can overtake other cars (the last thing they want is a couple of £100k+ cars having a crash), breaking points and turning marks (although with a bit of confidence you know when to do them but they will continue to tell you anyway). Each of the supercars we only got 2 or 3 laps in each car (this was because the experience day I was on was designed to give a sample of many different cars and driving experiences as opposed to a driving experienced focussed on one or 2 specific cars where you would receive much more track time in each car). The track itself was not wet but still a bit damp and drying out as the day went on as the sun and bit of a breeze meant the conditions were not too bad, although not perfect.
As you come back past the “pit” area and turn onto the main straight again you can’t help but smile as you floor the throttle and move up the gears (you will be told when to change gear by the instructor next to you, but there is usually a couple of thousand revs more you can pull before changing gear, if that’s what you want to do…). After my turn in the Lambo came to an end I pulled up and parked and got out with a huge grin on my face, which was pretty much the same reaction that everyone who got out of all the cars had on their faces. Our group of 6 all had their goes in the Lamborghini while the other groups worked their way through goes in the Ferraris & Aston Martins.
Next up we moved to drive a Ferrari, there was 2 available, a Ferrari 360 and a Ferrari 550. The fastest/most powerful car there that day was the red Ferrari 550 so I naturally positioned myself to driving that one (a previous owner of the car was Ryan Giggs according to the log book apparently). This was a manual and the gears/clutch were quite heavy but I guess when you have a 5.5L V12 pushing 485 horsepower through them they need to be, YUMMY!
Again, like the Lambo drive you have your instructor next to you making sure you don’t do anything daft, you can feel free to talk to them or just listen to them if you don’t want to talk or are too busy just giggling to yourself everytime you deck the throttle…
Again, the same routine as each group had had done their go in the next car it was time to move on again and this time for us to do our James Bond impression as it was the Aston Martin DB9 next up. Now on this one it would be slightly different, everyone on their last car would be accessed on their driving, so all the tips you should have been listening to about breaking and your racing lines would come into play as the instructors marked you as you went round. This was an interesting and unexpected thing so everyone wanted to end up with the best score so put their all into the drive (pretty much like everyone had put everything into the previous drives I guess).
Next on the agenda was the Prestwold Hall Rally Driving experience part of the day.