The website was rather quiet yesterday and there’s a good reason for that. I travelled down to Andover, where I visited Thruxton Racing Circuit to have a go on the skidpan with my Mazda MX-5. I’ve done things kind of like this before but never have I been on a skidpan.
I was excited but nervous at the same time as I didn’t know what to expect, plus I’ve never done anything like this before in my MX-5. I met up with Lorne, who helps manage the skidpan and watched him slither about elegantly in a Toyota GT86 as I prepared my camera equipment. He then went for a quick spin in a Mini, making it dance as the sprinklers made the surface even more slippy.
After a bit of faffing around with one of my GoPros – that had chosen a great time to stop working – it was time to get going. I fired up the 1.8 litre engine with Lorne sat beside me, chewing gum, looking calm and collected. I started off by going through the short slalom before heading to the loop at the bottom of the backwards ‘P’ track layout.
I hit the loop and it wasn’t long before the inevitable came. Yes, I spun. In fact I spun quite a few times and I have to say it was rather frustrating, especially when it was happening at low speeds. Lorne was keen to stress that the skidpan has been designed to catch cars (and drivers) out and this was certainly ringing true. The surface felt like ice making the car unpredictable.
Lorne kept patient whilst feeding me tips here and there to keep me on the straight and narrow. Well to stop me spinning as much at least. One minute my steering was fine but the throttle wasn’t and then it was vice versa. Finding the right balance felt like trying to take out a risky piece in Jenga.
Speaking of pieces, the jigsaw puzzle started to come together slowly, and once I had stopped waffling away to focus on driving, things improved. Sure, I still span here and there but I could feel myself getting in the groove. My steering input was getting better and I was starting to recognise what I was doing wrong. In fact I almost did a full loop without spinning but I fell off towards the end sadly.
Before I knew it though, my time on the skidpan was over and I had to let Lorne get back to his daily duties, some of which probably involved telling this colleagues how much of a clot I was! In all seriousness though, he felt I made decent improvement although I feel there is still much for me to learn.
The whole experience was great fun despite its difficulty, and it was very addictive. It’s something I’d love to do again – and hopefully master. Hopefully Thruxton Racing will have me down again and maybe, just maybe, I could rival Ken Block. Too far? I thought so. I’d like to thank Lorne and Thruxton Racing Circuit for allowing me to come down and make a prat of myself on their skidpan.
Do you fancy giving it a go? Then good news you can! You can either take you own car, which at the moment costs £99 (down from £125), or you can pay the same price (£99) to use Thruxton Racing’s Toyota GT86 and Mini Cooper. For more details, head to the Thruxton Racing website.