A Day at Milbrook

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A Day at Milbrook

Post by Wizzle » 28/02/15 19:15

Now I might be preaching to the converted here, but I was lucky to be able to do a dynamic handling day at Millbrook Proving Ground yesterday with Ivan Thompsett from Total Car Control, an ex rally driver and senior BMW/Porsche test driver.

Now I’m an ADI by day, and have done both IAM and RoSPA courses, not to mention a few track days in the process. I like to think I am a reasonably good driver on the road, though by no means perfect, and still class myself as being inexperienced on track/circuit events. So when I saw the list below of what I would be doing for the day I thought to myself, ‘I know a little about all of those’ and should be able to hold my own!

The topics for the day were as follows:

• Observation and sight/line interpretation
• Understeer/ lift-off oversteer and power oversteer control, characteristics and break points
• Trail breaking and ideal line vs geometric line, apex identification and corner synchronisation
• Longitudinal and lateral grip of tyres, limit handling and control
• In-depth look at weight transfer
• ABS control and threshold breaking

All I can say is that it was a baptism of fire ending up with me throwing 10 years of driving, over 1 million miles of experience and the rule book right out the window.

The day started with a briefing as to the targets for the day, what I wanted to accomplish, and the specific areas listed above that I wanted to develop. As a base point to start, it was a few laps of the outer handling circuit, a fantastic piece of track to test observation, lines, control and steering/breaking points.

Then onto the bowl, dry to start with and the figure of 8 with two 50 degree and two 60 degree bends where we worked on trial breaking, weight transfer and steering precision. Once I had managed this in a controlled manor it was time to play with understeer and oversteer, so the track was soaked and back again to having fun! To be honest I usually find the car a little tail happy when pushed hard but with tweaks to my driving style she, to my surprise, became very predictable and balanced, with significant understeer before oversteer set in. Development of steering and throttle response was also played with to hold limit handling and balance.

Then the part I found the hardest. By a long way! The circular bowl was soaked in a bid to develop and control power oversteer. Build up the speed to the limit of grip and a hard blip on the throttle to encourage the back end to step out. Catch the back end with quick hands as you lift off the throttle and soft pulses on the gas to hold the rear end out. Indeed on a F/E RWD with a wide wheel base it is much easier to balance the car, but as many of you here have probably tried this before, you know on a short wheelbase M/E RWD car the tolerances between limit handling and holding the drift are much smaller. I would be lying if I said I didn’t end up backwards on a few occasions! But with time and practice it started to come together. The highlight before lunch at the end of the morning session was watching him hold a full 4 wheel drift. Honestly, he made it look effortless.

After lunch it was back to the outer handling circuit to build on the work we’d done at the bowl and integrate and develop the techniques into my driving on circuit. We spent a fair bit of time on corner synchronisation, steering, throttle response to adjust lines at a set steering input and sight and observation.

Next to the mile straight for a couple of speed runs followed by threshold breaking and steering under load.

To finish, probably one of the most spectacular hill climb routes I’ve driven to pull together all the skills developed throughout the day.

All in all, it was a thoroughly enjoyable day, defiantly worth it. Hugely confidence building in both my own preconceptions and in the ability of the car and I’m already noticing differences in my driving style when I went out today. Whether you drive on a few occasions or are a professional driver on the road most of the day, a track novice or a seasoned veteran, I would highly recommend anyone giving it a try.

Ivan was a fantastic teacher, very patient, and an all-round nice guy. I personally will be going again, and the offer is there for club members as well if they so wish to develop their skills.

At the end of the day many people spend hundreds, if not thousands, on improving their cars, but often overlook the single biggest performance upgrade, the numb nuts behind the wheel!
Last edited by Wizzle on 28/02/15 19:26, edited 1 time in total.


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A Day at Milbrook

Post by stuMR2lee » 28/02/15 19:24

Sounds awesome Will. Was it an expensive day? Probably well worth it from a learning experience and something I'd love to do at some point.

Great write up:). Thanks for sharing.
Last edited by stuMR2lee on 28/02/15 21:15, edited 1 time in total.

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Re: A Day at Milbrook

Post by _Al_ » 28/02/15 19:44

Very interesting! I'm looking for a new challenge to take my driving up a level. This sounds like just the ticket...

Is this it?

http://www.parklanedrivertraining.com/performance.htm
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Re: A Day at Milbrook

Post by Wizzle » 28/02/15 20:08

Thanks Stu, its not cheep that's for sure, but its not something you do on a regular basis. I was lucky, this was paid for. It really depends on what training you want, whether you want just track or road or both, and the number of days you want to do.

Al, website is http://www.total-car-control.co.uk/
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Re: A Day at Milbrook

Post by _Al_ » 28/02/15 20:14

It seems quite reluctant to discuss pricing...
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Re: A Day at Milbrook

Post by parker455 » 28/02/15 20:20

Sounds awesome! I'm having a day of drifting with Luke (pacific works) over Easter, hoping to develop my control and give it a good Pop!

It's something I've always fancied but until I'm earning decent money I can't afford to run a second car or let alone drift it!



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Re: A Day at Milbrook

Post by _Al_ » 28/02/15 20:22

Another Luke (not skywalker) on here used to drift an MR2. He said it was VERY expensive: something fundamental broke every time he took the car out.

The downside of massive mid engined traction...
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Re: A Day at Milbrook

Post by parker455 » 28/02/15 22:30

Yeah I can imagine! I won't drift mine, I've tried and failed miserably as it feels like a pig to control/I'm too scared of bashing it as it's my daily driver. I've brought it back from the dead and I'd rather not let it die in my hands at least..

But, I've got a set of wheels spare with rubber that's begging to be skidded on hehehe. My fronts are on their way out too, so they'll get some smokey treatment.

We've got an MX-5 sitting in the garage back home, shame it's not LSD but that was fun to skid about with at bedford on a trackday. Whole day ragging the tits off it and all that happened was melted tyres and busted alternator belt! Winning!
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Re: A Day at Milbrook

Post by TonyleFrog » 01/03/15 0:13

Wizzle wrote:Now I’m an ADI by day, and have done both IAM and RoSPA courses, not to mention a few track days in the process. I like to think I am a reasonably good driver on the road, though by no means perfect, and still class myself as being inexperienced on track/circuit events.

All I can say is that it was a baptism of fire ending up with me throwing 10 years of driving, over 1 million miles of experience and the rule book right out the window.
Not a surprise tbh. IAM/RoSPA teach road driving skills, not circuit/rally techniques. As an ADI you will be well aware that nobody should be getting anywhere near the edge of the envelope on the public road.

There aren't many trees at Silverstone/Snetterton/etc. and most competitive rallies are held off road* in the UK with no traffic heading towards you.

* Except the Jim Clark and the Tour of Mull and the roads are closed specifically for these. If you want to go b**** out rallying on ordinary roads the place to go is the RoI where it's much easier to get authorisation to close public roads for such activities.

Nice write up btw. :th:
parker455 wrote:Sounds awesome! I'm having a day of drifting with Luke (pacific works) over Easter, hoping to develop my control and give it a good Pop!
Drift Limits at Bovingdon I presume.
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Re: A Day at Milbrook

Post by parker455 » 01/03/15 1:35

Correct Tony!


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Re: A Day at Milbrook

Post by gavsdavs » 01/03/15 9:00

Lovely write up - investing in your own driving is always worth it...

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Re: A Day at Milbrook

Post by _Al_ » 01/03/15 9:08

TonyleFrog wrote: Not a surprise tbh. IAM/RoSPA teach road driving skills, not circuit/rally techniques. As an ADI you will be well aware that nobody should be getting anywhere near the edge of the envelope on the public road.
I found IAM difficult mostly because every behaviour / reflex I'd drilled into myself for track use had to be set aside to drive as they wanted me to..
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Re: A Day at Milbrook

Post by baileydom » 01/03/15 9:35

_Al_ wrote:
TonyleFrog wrote: Not a surprise tbh. IAM/RoSPA teach road driving skills, not circuit/rally techniques. As an ADI you will be well aware that nobody should be getting anywhere near the edge of the envelope on the public road.
I found IAM difficult mostly because every behaviour / reflex I'd drilled into myself for track use had to be set aside to drive as they wanted me to..
Yeah, they do frown upon trying to clip the apex on right hand turns ;)
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Re: A Day at Milbrook

Post by Howlin_Mad » 01/03/15 9:55

I'd love to take the snotty IAM instructor I had 15 years ago out in the turbo and make progress now!

Sounds like an interesting and rewarding day!

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