All high quality pics courtesy (c) of picman
What a trip! Well it nearly didn't
happen at all, but before I get to that bit, I should really start
by thanking Martin Holden, for offering me a seat in his MR2
Roadster Turbo on this trip. Martin had booked to do both Dijon
Prenois and Magny Cours GP on consecutive days.
We nearly didn't make it at all
though as on the way to the Chunnel just as I was coming up the
slip road I could feel a clonking noise, then all of a sudden just
about 100m from the check-in the car ground to a halt and nearly
swapped ends! We couldn't work out what had happened though the
car would reverse, so we did onto the hard shoulder. A call to the
recovery people resulted in a four hour wait and us missing our
crossing. Eventually we got towed back to my Mum's (only an hour
away) and was about to swap cars and take my car, when we noticed
that the efficient mechanic at Toyota who had replaced the brake
pads and discs a day previously had forgotten to do up the caliper
mounting brackets on the nearside rear!! Luckily I managed to
borrow a caliper bolt off my car and it fitted okay on Martin's.
So after five hours of messing about, well mostly waiting for the
typical clueless recovery guy (he was okay, but didn't have much
of an idea) we were on our way.
Just the drive to Dijon to contend
with then. It was now dark and we had a very long way to go. We
ended up shooting through France at 110-120mph with the roof down
in a desperate bid to get to the hotel before midnight. We
eventually made it tired and exhausted and obviously looking
forward to getting up at 6.30 the next morning!
View out of the hotel window at
Parking at the hotel BaT style!
After typically getting up
somewhat bleary eyed, we then had a bit of a tour of Dijon which
was a bit like Ronin with the added Deja Vu of other hopelessly
lost trackday'ers going in the opposite direction. Pure
luck (or lack of it) meant that we were a little bit late for
sign-on, which was problematic as I was supposed to be helping!
Sign-on at Dijon-Prenois
Dijon pit-lane before the action begun
J5 holding court as he gives the
briefing. Even at 8am it was starting to get hot
As usual prep and a bit of bearding
was going on
The BaT crew prepping the BaT Cats.
With chief Beard Rich and Scruffy looking on
I was working on the pit-lane on
this day but had been promised a drive of Martin's car. All went
well and after hearing everyone raving about the circuit I was
just dying to get out there. I was also looking forward to getting
some shade as it was desperately hot standing on the pit-lane in a
hundred degrees of heat. Dijon is an incredible circuit and really
is up there with the best. It is punctuated by a very long
start/finish straight which runs the entire length of one side of
the circuit. Then you get round the back. It is seriously twisty
with lots of camber changes and some real gradient just about
All was going very well and I was
getting Martin's 220bhp turbo Roadster to slide quite nicely round
the first corner.
At speed on the first corner, car
went into a nice angle as the camber went away
I obviously found the gooning corner
Then disaster struck. This was
really embarrasing as coming round the last complex their is a
tricky uphill right-hander that you end up taking at around 90mph
or so. Yep, the car went very light very quickly and the next thing I
know i'm going backwards into the gravel trap with the tyre wall
scarily close. No real harm done, but not what you want to be
doing when it's not your car!
Round the tight left-hander that is
very easy to spin on due to it being downhill and of course with
the camber falling away from you. I did actually spin here, but it
was relatively slow and I stayed on the tarmac!
Beards of the day award had to go to
these two for making there own fun by taking their BDA engine out
to change the clutch! Everyone who could lent a hand though and
this was typical of the camaraderie on the Euro trip
That was Dijon all over though
lots and lots of camber changes, bumps and intricacies that made
it such a challenge to get right. It's hard to believe that the F1
Turbo cars of the late 70's raced here, it must have been
terrifying, but the ride of your life at the same time!
Absolutely fantastic and that's
not even going into the four hour sourjourn with the BaT convoy
over twisty french style b-roads on-route to Magny Cours.
Last but by no means least an
absolute mega thanx to Martin Holden for inviting me on the trip,
letting me drive and bin his car and for putting up with the