This should have been my third track day of 2020 but here we are, more than half the year already behind us and I’ve just completed my first. I can’t tell you how eager I’ve been to get back out on track, it was late last year at Anglesey since I was last out. First world problems, eh?!
Track Selection with a Slow Car
With the Suzuki being desperately underpowered, I’ve been selecting the more tight and twisty circuits rather than the fast-flowing ones that I’d only be a rolling roadblock on. I had previously been to Blyton Park and Anglesey, next on the list was Cadwell Park. Cadwell is primarily a motorcycle track, it’s narrow and has some tight and twisty sections that turned out to be fantastic fun.
Using Air BnB
My girlfriend came with me for the first time, so, instead of setting off at 4am and grinding out a really long day like I normally would, we stayed in an Air BnB about 10 minutes from the track. It was called the Little Barn in Great Carlton and it was lovely, it even had a little archway you could park your car under, I’d highly recommend it for anyone looking for a place to stay in that area.
Arriving at the Circuit
We arrived at the track at about 8am after filling up at the local shell garage on the way, then the sighting laps commenced at 9am, giving me time to swap the road set of Falkens for the Toyo R888R’s (a task made much easier thanks to my mate lending me his De Walt impact wrench). A quick fluids check and torquing of the wheel nuts was due, before heading down to scrutineering for a noise check. With all the pre-flight checks ticked off and wrist bands collected, we strapped in and set off for the three sighting laps. For those unfamiliar, everyone follows the safety car around the track to familiarise themselves with the layout of the circuit and the location of the marshals. Once this is complete, the track opens for the morning session that runs up to dinner time at 1pm.
Learning the Track
After a quick sausage butty, we headed out on track for our first stint. First impressions of the track are that it’s quite narrow and undulating with some blind corners. It took me the first two stints to get the flow of the track, know my braking points, and what lines to take. I try and keep the stints to roughly 15-20 minutes, any shorter and it’s not enough time to get into a rhythm, any longer and the brakes and tyres start to overheat. I managed 4 stints in the morning and 4 in the afternoon session, each time returning to the paddock to let the car cool off and run a few checks. It’s important to have some mechanical sympathy, no matter how old or new your car is. Pounding around the track all day is pretty brutal on any vehicle and it will far exceed any stresses that it’s gone through on the public roads.
Happily, the mighty Ignis dealt with the full day no problem. The reliability of this little car is really rather impressive, especially considering how I’ve used it, it’s never let me down. Yes, it is outgunned on the straights but with the R888R’s fitted, it can hold its own in the corners, which is where all the fun happens!
By the end of the day, I’d really got in tune with the track and was getting pretty consistent (watch the video at the end of this post), there was the odd red flag to disrupt the flow but nothing was long enough to put a downer on the day. With a long journey ahead, we started packing up at about 3pm and decided to make tracks after swapping the wheels back over. The front left looked like it had seen better days but I think I’ll be able to eke out another day with them.
Cadwell Park is a fantastic circuit and very rewarding when you get the lines right, the mountain section and beyond to the start/finish straight is particularly satisfying. There are two or three heavy braking zones that will stress the brakes and a few hard right-handers that will wear the left front, especially if you’re in a front-wheel-drive car. I’ll definitely be coming back here again, but first, there are a few more tracks to try!
Let me know what you think about Cadwell Park if you’ve been or if you haven’t is there any information I’ve missed that you’d like to know?