With the new season fast approaching I decided to incorporate a family visit in the north of England with a quick run over to Ardent Raceway to test my 2012-spec F1 car. This allowed me to get the feel of the G2 motors and the foam tyres that will be used for the new season.
The circuit was a challenge to say the least. There were many many bumps where the carpet was not sitting perfectly on the (wood?) underneath, and several of the seams between pieces of carpet were coming up. I even managed to drive under one piece of carpet as my front wing snagged it! This is unusual for Ardent as the circuit is normally A1, so I can only assume they are in the process of working on the circuit or doing something with it. It is great to have the option to practice during the week and is a fabulous facility I only wish I lived nearer so I could us it more!
The 2012 rules
To begin with I can say for sure that the cars are very different with the new motors and foam tyres. I managed to grip-roll my F103 for the first time ever! The G2 motors are without doubt slower than the Saturn 20T motors we have been using over the last couple of years which is to be expected, and if I’m honest I am missing the speed. There were several corners where it was a case of just planting the throttle and the car had all the grip in the world, which I feel does detract from the skill of the driver in throttle application.
I was finding the motor was getting far too hot and I had to take the car outside to cool it off after one run, so I decided to gear down much further than I would have imagined, and far lower than I ever have at this circuit with rubber tyres. The motor still got extremely hot, but not quite as bad.
I also discovered that the foam tyres are far less capable of dealing with knocks compared to rubber tyres. Ardent is a savage track and can really damage your bodyshell and tyres. I have had more damage after one meeting at Ardent than all year on outside tracks in the past. I found that hitting the barriers (or maybe it was the metal staples holding the track together) were ripping my foam tyres in the centre of them. I have two sets of front tyres with tears in them now and I’m not sure if they are going to be suitable for further racing, which is frustrating as they were brand new.
Overall though I think it’s going to be any interesting season and with numbers looking strong for all classes it should be very different to the previous two seasons and I can’t wait to get started.