Radical ride: XCAR goes racing for the very first time
So I'm here at Brand Tach very early in the morning.
And, today's the day that I've been anticipating for months and living in abject terror of.
The past couple of weeks.
Today is the first round of the Radical SR1 Championship.
And somewhat unbelievably, today I'm going to be driving in it.
So I'm going to be driving in the first two rounds.
The whole thing about the Radical SR1 Cup is that it is for beginners.
No one on the grid will have completed more than 7 races.
I've got qualifying at nine and then two twenty minute races, so I think my strategy is to take it easy for the first race, come home in one piece and then, second race, not quite off the wall, but maybe push it a little bit more.
See how it goes, exciting.
And terrifying at the same time.
That's pretty much the feeling I've got right now, so I'm gonna go and sign on.
So this is the Radical SR-1 car.
It's got a 185 brake horsepower or 1.3 liter four cylinder bike engine.
But it just weighs just 480 kilos.
It's go the power to weight ratio that would trump most super cars.
Now last time out when I drove it, I found it an absolute dream to drive it.
So communicative and responsive, the kind of car that radical dude.
It just talks to you.
You just feel a connection to it that you don't get from other cars.
And of course this is a true race car.
The thing is today in the wear I feel it's gonna be a completely different proposition.
This thing doesn't have traction control ABS or power steering, so a lot's gonna need to come from the driver, and I know my limitations all too well.
So I feel that this is gonna be the.
Strongest link in the team today.
Qualifying with last 20 minutes and this will determine where I'd line up for both races.
So, getting a good time was absolutely key.
The problem was I found myself in the middle of a pack on Branze's short indie circuit.
And the first few laps I spend refamiliarizing myself with the circuits in the car, which was not driven in quite a while.
In the meantime I was getting a lot of blue flags as much faster cars were needing to pass me, so frustratingly I never felt as though I got really into the flow of things or got a proper lap together.
I've just come out of my first and only qualifying session for the Radical SL1 and it was difficult.
It felt for the first few laps I was just trying to get the grips of the car again.
I felt towards the end I could get all the corners hooked up individually but I didn't have one lap where I had it all.
Track is bone dry at the moment.
We got out before the rain but the wind's picking up.
The humidity's high.
The clouds are ominously kind of dominating the horizon in all directions at the moment.
It is gonna pour it down.
And I've never driven this in the wet.
And it's gonna be difficult.
I found out my time was 56.4 seconds, only good enough for last place and 17th from the grid.
I was 6.4 seconds away from pole position, which was light years away on a circuit as small as this, and a second behind my nearest competitor in 16th.
So I'd really have to up my game if I was going to be competitive in this race.
I'm in the cockpit, I'm [UNKNOWN].
The engine's running.
We're just about to be called for my very first motor race.
The track looks very slippery, very wet.
We've had quite a few red flags on other previous qualifying sessions, of people going off.
Especially, at Paddock Hill and [UNKNOWN].
It, it looks treacherous out there.
I've never driven this thing in the wet.
And I'm told it can be quite unpredictable.
The guys have softened up the dampers for me, and taken off the rear bar.
So that should give me, A little more stability it'll be a little more predictable, a little softer.
The fear from this morning is gone having gotten out on the track.
Conditions be damned I'm extremely excited.
Just warming up the tires which feels very surreal.
The adrenaline's really starting to flow now, I can feel it in my legs
Here I am lined up.
This is the start of the race.
This is very scary.
As the lights went out for the first race, my start was pretty good.
True to my promise, I didn't dive upon the inside of [UNKNOWN] bend.
I kept it calm and waited to see how things would play out As it happens, I had to move quite quickly to avoid a stalled car that was on my side of the grid.
My confidence grew as the race progressed, and I began to close in on car number five.
I realized I could soon make a move.
Unfortunately, it was at this point that my video game training decided to kick in.
And I dived recklessly on the inside, in what can only be described as a monumentally stupid move.
Woah, woah, woah, woah.
Richard Wilson make little skids oh damn [UNKNOWN]
They're in a safety car period now and I guess it's time to talk about my accident.
Like a complete idiot I was last but one.
Closing in on the guy just a little bit lap by lap.
Saw an opportunity and drew it.
And pretended it was Playstation!
After the 20 minutes race, my best lap was 55.6 seconds.
.8 of a second quicker than my qualifying lap on a damp track.
Which just showed the difference that a little bit more seat time can have.
So in the first race and as you may have seen I had quite an embarrassing moment.
I have to do some explaining to [UNKNOWN] the course.
You felt the car a lot more [UNKNOWN].
In the corners you felt it turning and I really actually like that.
Felt like a big improvement for me and I felt like I was, I was doing well.
Actually the car just in front of me I was keeping the gas fairly consistent.
Actually closing down on him and then it drew it so I had a bit of a rush of blood to the head and thought I was on the video game and went to overtake when probably didn't have enough way of a taking.
I definitely saw an improvement on the qualifying even though the track was drying I actually felt I drove a lot better and got to know the car.
So, goods and bads really.
I don't feel too good having to report to the Marshall's office but they were, they were fairly understanding.
Once again I got a good start off the line managing to pass two stalled cars.
And I found myself closing up on car number five.
However, wanting to avoid yet another trip upstairs, I decided to break a little earlier than usual at Clearways, the final corner, which would give me a better run through the corner and a higher speed advantage through the straight.
Amazingly, it worked.
And I spent the rest of the race in some sort of fantasy, tussling for position, pushing the car harder and harder, finding the limit and, well, racing.
[UNKNOWN] meant that it was the last handful of laps where I really thought I started to get to grips with it, then in the blink of an eye it was all over.
I'd achieved my aim, finishing both races and not finishing last in either.
I'd not pushed as hard as I possibly could have, but it was nice to be able to hand [UNKNOWN] back an undamaged car.
That was absolutely unbelievable.
What a difference the first race, bone dry track really hot just amazing racing if I didn't get in the first race or it just, it just builds up the knowledge through out the first to help me in the second and it just felt so much better, just the whole experience.
I've never felt more in complete harmony with the car.
It's just so unreal.
I was, you know?
Holding my rev and thinking, this is [BLEEP] mental.
I'm on a racing rig.
I'll never forget that experience.
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