Richard Mitchell Tests at Brands

Richard Mitchell

Whilst racing in perfect sunny weather in a Historic Formula Ford 1600 double-header race weekend at the iconic Brands Hatch Indy Circuit, I wandered through the bustling paddock and got chatting to a very nice chap called Rob Hedley who told me what he was driving when he wasn’t sat in his little single seater next to me on the grid. When he uttered the words “supercar, 6.2 litre, 450Bhp V8, sequential gearbox, limited slip differential, flame-spitting side-exit exhausts and lots of noise” I was immediately hooked! He noticed that I had just gained another podium finish in my first season of racing in Historic Formula Ford and after a long discussion said that I should come and have a go in his V8 racing car to see what it was like and to give me some more seat time – an offer I just couldn’t refuse! Back again at Brands Hatch, although this time in very wet and poor conditions, I was introduced to the fantastic and very professional James Tucker and his team of engineers who would be running the car for the test. After signing on and getting in my race kit, I peered round the door of pit garage and saw this menacing, red monster saloon car with its bonnet up, displaying its glorious V8. After getting my seat position spot on, I had a brief from Rob who introduced me to the cars basic controls and what it would potentially behave like on the circuit. I couldn’t wait! After watching the team warm the engine and diff up (those side-exit exhaust pipes and crackling sequential gearbox were a spectacle by themselves!) I climbed over the roll-cage, got strapped in and given the thumbs up! 12096406_10153737940954343_6959909895551584550_n With the cars wipers on full chat due to the worsening rain I pulled out the pits at Brands Hatch and with the nose pointing down Paddock Hill Bend I gave it ‘the beans’. Wow! – the intoxicating noise from that thundering V8 launching the car down paddock hill and up to Druids, the whine of the sequential dog box demanding another gear and the incredible way in which the car was so stable under power in such poor conditions was amazing! (You might have noticed I have a soft spot for noisy revving V8’s!) As a single seater driver, used to very light and highly sensitive machinery I was very impressed with how the car managed its weight and power delivery as it was very easy to become confident in the car quickly. When the brakes and tyres were up to temperature enabling me to explore the wet and dry lines finding the grip, I was able to really push it after only a few laps. The car is set up in such a way that in the wet it is very forgiving and quite predictable, which enabled me to really explore the limits of the chassis and the brakes quickly, therefore being very happy to throw the car sideways on the exit of Druids and on the entry to Graham Hill Bend! (Naughty Richard!) Even though the notorious McLaren, Clearways and Clark Curve were up next, which have caught many an experienced driver out, I was able to really lean on the car through this sector. It was very stable under braking and turn-in, with minimal understeer and great feedback through the steering wheel. I was able to get the car rotated and apply the power quickly, keeping the it just on the yaw limit as the rear found traction on the exit of Clark Curve in the dreadful conditions. With the car delicately placed close to the pit wall I ripped through the sequential box and really let that 450bhp V8 sing as it launched me over the start/finish line. I was then ready to get back hard on the brakes, heel and toe down through the gears, bleed off the brakes to get the car settled and turned in for a good exit down Paddock Hill Bend. I just didn’t want to stop! After what felt like a couple of laps, I saw the thing that racing drivers really hate – that ‘IN’ board! I did my cool down lap and brought the car in. After a de-brief from the engineers, who then uttered the words “nice and consistent times” I thanked James, Rob and the amazing team for such a brilliant experience. Now I have to think what to do next to get back in that car for 2016 with my very limited budget!12112314_10153737940769343_8683702894988596574_n On reflection, I think the UKV8 one-make series will really kick off this year. The format is very well thought through and will attract big crowds. I can assure you that both gentleman drivers and seasoned professionals will have huge smiles on their faces whilst going door-to-door and wheel-to-wheel with each other on some of the UK’s best circuits. The cars are fantastic fun, very easy to drive and combined with that V8 noise will provide close and exciting racing. To me, this is one of the best ways of spending a weekend. Richard Mitchell – Historic Formula Ford 1600 Champion 2015 Chosen 7th out of Top 10 Club Drivers from 2015 by Autosport Magazine Twitter – @richmitchracing Facebook – Richard Mitchell Racing Link to some video of Richard taking the car around Brands.