I was fortunate enough to go for a hot lap around the fast flowing 3.93km SMP circuit on the weekend. It wasn't my first hot lap and every time I have been for a spin I try to learn something new and attempt to take in the magnitude of what these boys go through for 'X' amount of consecutive laps each weekend.
It was a dry session, we weren't being punted into, we weren't being told to conserve fuel or tyres, the engineer wasn't on the radio suggesting to adjust bars or bias or work to a lap time, there was no pressure to get a result by the team owner or sponsor and I wasn't the one driving. Yet it was loud, fast, the braking forced me almost out of my seat. It was hot, isolated and brutal.
Then Saturday comes round and the weather turns apocalyptic. I stand in pitlane complaining that my pink shoes are not keeping my feet dry and we get excited on the telecast about how great this is going to be to make the racing spicy!! 'Get out the popcorn kids this is going to get loose'. We love it!
However it wasn't until the end of the day, the end of the weekend when I was talking to the drivers that I really had to sit back and think about what we had just witnessed. Twenty-five of the best in the country had just put on a display of world class driving for our entertainment in some of the worst conditions we have seen. Just how good are these guys?! I wanted asked the obvious. Describe what was it like out there? I wanted to understand what they went through. And I wanted you guys to have the access to the answers I was given...
"The conditions were crazy - very unpredictable with massive variations in grip. Exciting but challenging. It's an experiment every lap finding lines to search for grip. Some would have good entry speed but ten would snap into wheel spin and give you a poor exit. The tarmac was like a switch it would change so quickly and unrepentantly and all of sudden be completely out of control."
But could you see?
"No, not really. Vision was scary, 260km down the front straight driving into a white wall. Your windscreen is fogged up, your mirrors are folded in, you are literally waiting for two little flickers of faint brake lights to appear in the spray to tell you where the corner was. You can only hope that no one was stopped or spun in front as you just have no chance."
Are you ever scared?
"It's fun at times. (REALLY??) I can probably count on both my hands races like these, so not many that we have had. You think, I'm seriously earning my money right now. It's insane. If something goes wrong it's going to be bad. You are thinking, this is actually crazy and dangerous. But at that moment you hold your foot flat into the spray and try to be that little bit braver then the next bloke because you know everyone is scared and facing the same problems. You are driving effectively as if you had your eyes closed and on ice through the spray into turn 1 to set up for a pass into turn 2, but power sliding in fourth gear blind... it's rewarding yet bordering on stupid! Its good to get that rush out of our sport, but something I wouldn't want every weekend! It's a whole new level. A whole new world of unpredictability. So many more things can go so badly wrong... But we count down the days until we can get back in the car as soon as we are out."
I just wanted to take a moment to say wow. Those races were pretty insane and these 25 guys are seriously talented.