I’m fortunate enough to have a race circuit on my doorstep. Llandow is a small, family run race track in South Wales which often means if you turn up for a test day on a Friday, you’ve got the circuit all to yourself. Perfect if you’ve got a testing plan you want to work through without having to worry about traffic!
Normally during “testing” during my first season in motorsport, I’d spend the entire day without any real plan and just look to complete as many laps as I could and go as fast I could every time I was in the car.
Whilst all tracktime is valuable, especially when you’re learning the ropes, I’d be lying if I said I got anything more out of testing in the early days than getting comfortable with the car and getting comfortable with driving (relatively) quickly. I certainly wasn’t collecting any data.
This time, things were a little different. Not dramatically different but I did have some goals that I wanted to achieve (other than drive the wheels off the car at every opportunity) by the end of the day. Pretty simple goals, but goals nonetheless.
One of the key areas that we wanted to be better at from a strategy stand-point for our second season is at predicting fuel usage. We’d always just used second-hand data and so were never confident with our predictions and always therefore added more fuel than we probably needed just to be safe.
During this session, we completed multiple runs in the car with a fixed amount in the fuel tank, then drained it after each run to give us an exact fuel usage amount. With some of our own real litres-per-hour data to go off, it’ll mean our strategy calls should be more accurate moving forward.
We also experimented with a few different tyre pressures in an attempt to understand how the balance of the car was affected. As we’re all novices, it’s not always obvious to “feel” the changes on the track, so the more we do this in an attempt to understand how the changes affect the car, the better.
As we approached the end of a fantastic day and the sun began to set, we thought there was just enough time for a little fun. Fun which actually also proved extremely beneficial as it consisted of some extremely close bumper to bumper running which you normally don’t get to practice in testing!
We spent the remaining half hour of the session having a little on-track battle with some local rivals who had joined us for the test day which was a great way to end an extremely productive day. Although, it did get the competitive juices flowing again and left me longing for the new season to start again as we left the circuit for the Christmas break!