Sunday, 15 November 2009

Mando leaving present - Aston Martin Driving Experience

When I left back in May (it really doesn't feel that long ago) Tony bought me a voucher for a driving experience with the money from the whip round. These vouchers are only valid for a year and they don't run the experience during the Winter months so I thought it was time for me to pull my finger out and get it booked! November 14/15th was the last weekend of the year and it was wet!

When you arrive at the car park for the circuit (Pro Drive is in Warwickshire) you get a on a mini bus that takes you to the pit lane. There you sign in and they give you a slip detailing what you are going to be doing when.

The first part of the experience is an orientation drive around the circuit, you are driven by an instructor in a Mitsubishi Evolution at a slow (ish) speed to show you all the corners etc.

Then you get onto the interesting part, after you have been around the track you move onto driving your car of the day. I have to say this part of the experience was fantastic, they really want you to enjoy it. If you want to drive slow, that's fine, fast, that's good also. I had four laps.

The circuit consisted of two straights and a series of chicanes at each end. The first lap I was really just getting used to where I was going, but on the second I was able to start stretching the car's legs. It's hard to describe how quick the Aston Martin V8 actually is (and this is the baby one!) 380 horse power in a two seater results in epic performance. Down the straight I was able reach around 120mph! On the second lap I got onto the power a little early in the corner before the long straight and the car's back end stepped out, very controllable - you really appreciate how well balanced these things are when they slide.

The third lap was just amazing I'd got used to the car and the track and was really able to get going. So much so that I caught up a Lamborghini - I kept my distance through the corners but the instructor told me to close right up on the back of it. On the exit of the final corner before the long straight I was told to go for it and over take the Lambo. Fantastic, both cars going hard, down the straight. The Aston should have been slower but the guy in the Lambo wasn't pushing as hard as I was so I reached the corner first. Not ever day you overtake a Lambo whilst driving an Aston Martin! (It was the orange one in the pic below)

After the experience was over the instructor marks you on your car control. They didn't tell you that at the start either. Interestingly the scale was 31-38, not idea why! Anyway, flattering he gave me a 37+ saying it was a pleasure to take someone around who could drive and really wanted to enjoy it.

Finally they take you around in another Mitsubishi Evo on a fast lap. Interestingly down the straights the Aston was just as quick as this fast demo lap, through the corners they rain you in but not as a passenger on the fast lap. This lap was fun, quite violent and over very quickly!

On the way out of the circuit you are also taken on a four wheel drive circuit as a passenger. This was fun but I've actually drive off road myself and it is never as good as a passenger.

So I just wanted to say thank you to everyone at Mando who put into the pot for me when I left. I had a great time at the track and really appreciate it.


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