Or SprayWatch as it should have been known! One of the few occasions when the roof was fitted to the car, as it was raining all the way from my house to Caterham and down to Climping. Kate read out the directions using my PC headset/intercom combination which seemed to work pretty well. There were some fun roads, and a few interesting moments. I don't think I'll forget the sight of a petrol station full of 7s - and me bump starting Bozz's car in the pouring rain! Thankfully the rain had stopped by the time we got to Climping and the trip back was with the roof back in the boot where it belongs!
One day I'll drive the route again, in the dry, to see what it should really be like without having to ford flooded roads. Much respect goes to those who aero-screened it!
Organised by Steve Mell, Surrey AO at the airfield location where Top Gear is filmed, this was an opportunity to play with the 7 in a safe location. There were 4 different activities:
Nikki offered to bring her car to carry my wheels, jack and other bits and pieces. She seemed to enjoy the 0-60 more than the slalom (I blame that on the Pilots!) and resolutely refused to get into the 7 for the donutting!
A totally different discipline... No corners, a set of funny traffic lights and seriously fast machinery.
Dave Jackson from BlatChat organised this event and almost 50 7s turned up, aong with the usual Run What Ya Brung people in their cars - everything from rail and slingshot dragsters to Yank V8 muscle cars - oh, and a Vauxhall Nova!
I have a good range of excuses for my poor reaction times at the lights, from "my AP22 accelerometer was still calibrating" to "I took so long staging that they started the sequence whilst I still had my foot on the brake!" I also had problems with the arm restraints on my first run and struggled to change up into 2nd!
My personal best was around 14.5s for the 1/4 mile - with a 93mph final speed. My AP22 matched the timing slip for the one run I used it on - so I was quite impressed with the accuracy of this bit of kit. It was quite amusing to be staged next to a Chevy BelAir that looked like it was driven by Harrison Ford in American Graffiti, even if I got my worst reaction time and the bellow of his V8 completely covered any noise from my 7! See my video clips for the proof.
The same format as last year, but this time round I was more comfortable and confident with the car. Angus lent me a pair of wheels with Yoko 239 tyres as my A048s were too worn to have any fun with the lift-off oversteer section! My worst performance was on this section though - I span on all but 2 of my attempts. One of my runs was pretty good, and I have no shame about spinning. After all, where else can you try this kind of stuff out without getting into trouble?
I also really enjoyed the driving challenge slalom. I had a much better idea of what to do, despite it being the first event of the day for my team. My posted time for this event was within a second of the top 3, I believe.
The most useful thing I learned during the day was the technique of pulling rather than pushing the steering wheel to increase smoothness, along with moving the pulling hand to get a fresh grip (whilst the other hand maintained its' position) when needing more than an armful of lock. This came in useful for the track session, which I found a lot more satisfying than the previous year. I even overtook a couple of people in similar cars - finding that I was quicker into the corners than them (even if the R300 and R400 could easily catch me on the short straights, as well as taking the corners quickly.) My final report this year showed the improvement, commenting on "smooth steering" and "good corner entry and exits."
I managed to put a number of BlatChat ids to names in the paddock. This was certainly eased by susser and myself having our ids on our numberplates. I'm definitely going to do this again, but perhaps slightly neater!