On this Blog.
by Pierre Martins
I’ve been fortunate to test some fairly quick and interesting machines on race tracks in my time and I’m always grateful, not only for the opportunity to drive cars on race tracks that most people can only dream about, but also for the experience I gain in the process. Every car is different and handles different. And all the new things I learn go upstairs into my memory bank…
Be that as it may, I take extra care during testing. You see, unless the owner of the car specifically asks me to, I never take a car to the absolute limit. There is no point in trying to break lap records when your job on the day is to give feedback on a car’s handling or to provide driving impressions. Besides, one must always show respect for another man’s machine when you’re given the opportunity behind the controls, especially with rare exotics such as these.
Anyway, here are some of the stories -
Superleggera, Kettles and Turbos…
They hosted another Supercar school at Kyalami a few Sundays ago. I was fortunate to get an invite to play instructor and was privileged to pilot a variety of cool machines at a decent pace around the track.
Lamborghini Gallardo at Kyalami
Porsche 930 turbo at Zwartkops
Putting a well-kept classic like this on a race track is actually not the right thing to do, but the idea behind this test was to blow the cobwebs away and see what the car was capable of on a race track, for once…
Formula GTi versus 250 Superkart at Zwartkops
With almost two full seasons under the belt in 250 Superkarts I got an itch to try something else in the way of single seater wings & slicks racing, so when the first opportunity to test drive a Formula GTi at Zwartkops presented itself, I grabbed it with both hands, literally…
GT40 versus GT40 at Kyalami and Zwartkops
Of all the GT40s built by Bailey-Edwards to date, about sixty percent were built for street use. The other forty percent went to customers who wanted all-out race cars. The idea behind this test was to take an example of each around a track to see how a Bailey-Edwards street legal GT40 compares to one in full race trim.
Lotus Exige S at Kyalami
By the time I zipped through the Bowl and wiggled the car’s cheeky little ass as I hoofed it a moment too soon I had a huge smile on my dial. I had forgotten that this was just the warm-up lap. This was just way too much fun. It’s like the gods of sports-car heaven answered my prayers and built a track toy just for me.
Porsche 911 – Two RSRs at Midvaal
What’s better than spending a day at the track behind the wheel of a powerful old-school 911 RSR? - Spending the day behind the wheel of not just one, but two RSRs of course. So without further ado, allow me to introduce the cars to you…
Porsche 917 – Bailey-Edwards replica at Zwartkops
The Porsche 917 is the car of my childhood dreams, but the problem with the 917 is that it’s generally so far beyond the reach of mere mortals like you and I, that driving a 917 will always just be just that - a dream. And then a local company started building 917 replicas and guess what, I got to track test their test mule.
Porsche 944 Gabor’s Turbo at Kyalami
Gabor's Porsche 944 Turbo is a wild animal indeed. This gutted, light-weight 944 Turbo produces 500bhp! Well, almost. It makes 496 to be exact, and is is yet another wild 944, built by M&R Motors in Johannesburg and one of the most radical 944's you've ever seen!
Shelby Can-Am at Zwartkops
I can tell you upfront, if you have any thoughts of ever getting behind the wheel of a sports prototype such as a Shelby Can-Am car, you’d better not be a zombie ‘cause this thing will bite your head off if you’re not paying attention. You’d have to be wide awake and sharp, a thinking driver with a fair amount of skill to be consistently quick in one of these things.
SPEADS Single Seater & Sports Prototype at Zwartkops
Some cars are quick, but they’re hard work. The SPEADS are so easy to drive fast it’s a joke, to put it mildly. I’m talking about a lightweight single seater that resembles a Ferrari F1 car and an open top sportscar that resembles a LeMans sports prototype, both powered by motorcycle engines, but don’t let that fool you. These things are proper race cars and they’re seriously quick!
Sunshine Testing at Phakisa
So here’s the dilemma. - A 600km round trip in the middle of the week for an off chance of getting some seat time in something exciting. Besides that, I was already semi-switched off from track driving for what was left of 2008… Well, I didn’t get to drive anything, but I enjoyed the day nevertheless.
VW Challenge cars at Zwartkops
I have to admit I was a tad apprehensive when asked to do this test. Spoke to VW Challenge Class B competitor Stuart Mack and he gave me just one single bit of advice - “Make sure you’re on the gas even when you’re not on the gas”. Erm, okay Stu, I’ll be sure to try that…
250 Superkart – First drive
I’ve always wanted to have a go in one of these little rockets, and when the opportunity presented itself when I was offered a test drive at Zwartkops Raceway, I grabbed the opportunity with a fat smile, dusted off my old leathers from my bike racing days, removed the knee sliders and squeezed myself into them…
Keep your eye on this page. I’ll post updates of more track tests in due course.