Thursday, 9 February 2017

National B Race License Tests - ARDS Day

Yesterday was the first of many 'proper' events for this years Caterham Academy season... The ARDS day at Castle Combe circuit, where (so long as I didn't balls it up) I'd get approval for my National B race license... Sounds cool huh?

Well it was a cool day... Very cold in fact!  Arriving at 7:45am it was cold and wet, but the cafe was nice and warm... The cafe filled pretty quickly and it was the first time to familiarise myself with this years 'competition'...

As the each group of Academy Racers is twenty eight strong, the ARDS day was split into four sections and the racers were also split into four groups of seven drivers.

After a bit of an introduction and some agenda setting the clouds lifted and we were put into our groups... I was in the silver group and we started off at the skid pan where some super slippery silicone was mixed with water and then we were let loose in some old BMW 3 series...
BMW 3 Series on the Skid Pan at Castle Combe Circuit
BMW 3 Series on the Skid Pan at Castle Combe Circuit
We spent a good hour or so at the skid pan which was a good laugh, then headed back to the cafe for coffer prior to our next section...

The next section of our day was for Jennifer, Lucy and Darren to give us a talk and some demonstrations about how to convert our cars from road to race cars, and some helpful tips for strapping yourself in, info about decals, parts you needed to fit and so on - which was well timed, as this is something all competitors will need to be doing (if not done already) in the very near future!
Matt? and Darren using a six point harness and wrist straps on Jennifer Mouratsing
Matt? and Darren using a six point harness and wrist straps on Jennifer Mouratsing
Lunch was included too, and trying to keep 'race-trim' I went for the stuffed red peppers with a MASSIVE side plate of chips!  Perfect - it was lovely!

After lunch we headed over to the classroom to re-watch the ARDS DVD we'd been sent... After the DVD one of the instructions talked us through the circuit, lines braking points and so on, before we were sent off to the cars for a couple of sighting laps...
ARDS instructor briefing us on the lines and braking points of Castle Combe Circuit
ARDS instructor briefing us on the lines and braking points of Castle Combe Circuit
Five ford fiestas were lined up with race instructors, ready to take us for our sighting laps... 
Five ford fiestas were lined up with race instructors, ready to take us for our sighting laps
Five ford fiestas were lined up with race instructors, ready to take us for our sighting laps
Sighting laps completed, it was time for the drivers to take turns to show we had the competence to race a car round the circuit - with one caveat - spin off, you fail instantly...

Even though I like the wet conditions, I still felt nervous as a dreaded spin of death and the day would be over... So I drove round like an OAP (well I'm not far off!), and got that bit out of the way successfully...  Next up was the medical and then the written test paper.

Medical was fine, a touch of high blood pressure (but everyone's results were higher than usual - not sure if that was due to the excitement of the day or the cold weather)...

Time to sit the test paper - it was a 10 minute multiple choice test, which required 100% correct answers to pass... Get just one wrong and it was a fail... So again, nervously I ticked the boxes I assumed were correct, read and re-read my answers and handed the test paper in.

Luckily, I didn't get any answers wrong and, I passed - yay!  I now have a National B race license (well I don't actually have the card yet) but as they say "it's in the post"

This coming weekend is more seat time... Rockingham ISSC on Saturday, and by the looks of the entrant list there will be a few Academy drivers there, then moving on to Snetterton 300 on Sunday...

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