Trackdays are very popular and it seems in my case habit forming, well at least once per year for the last three years, if that qualifies? I just spent all day clogging it around Oulton, like you never can on a public road, including spinning the rev counter as hard as my pressure on the accelerator pedal would allow. At one stage I even managed to get a cramp in my right foot, more usually associated with certain types of rowing!
The day starts by attending the compulsory drivers briefing from Motorsport Manager Steve Kevlin. In conversation at lunchtime Steve reminded me he had been at the launch of the 928 only a brief 40 years ago. AFN were the original official importer of Porsche in 1977 and when they went racing he was the first out the box in a 928.
My 928 turned out to be the only 928 at Oulton that day, so many keen-eyed drivers stopped by in the pits to discuss the motor, with many topics centred around the V8 engine size and the rarity of the model.
I was also keen to have some track tuition so I had booked time with Howard Hunt. His method is very much to show you that it’s the smoothest line that brings with it a reward of a faster speed round a given corner. His comment being that others who rag the cars round corners, only wear the car and the tyres and whilst it looks interesting it does not always win races.
Lewis Hamilton has raced at Oulton and Lewis’s 2018 season this has arguably seen him win more races through smooth control, making fewer mistakes on track than Vettel, to take the F1 championship title. At the end of this day my car control was much improved too, but I am not exactly looking for a seat in F1 next season!
This time around I was relaxed enough to collect some statistics. For instance the car used three quarters a tank full of fuel, some 55 litres of Shell V Power which at today’s price was £80. That translated into approx 33 laps of the International Circuit which I am reliably informed is “2.775 flowing miles”.
I usually stuck with achieving 4 or 6 laps maximum, before returning to the pits, because I could sense the brakes going lumpy and starting to soften at the pedal. My brake system is already filled with high temperature brake fluid and the discs and pads had been replaced and checked last year, so I was quite confident that my loosely controlled stints followed by a cooling down period, as given out at the briefing, would be all that was required. It worked.
On track you find, not surprisingly, that you are regularly overtaken by every 911 bar the early cars, but as they run themselves into the distance you are left to enjoy the calm of the track.
It’s a joy to find yourself on a stretch of empty track, just soaking up the sheer pleasure of safe, flat out, Porsche motoring. On any 928 with its V8 spinning round to 6,000 revs the engine is pretty relaxed.
Racing is not permitted and the sentence is subject to being sent to the Tower of London, which means potential black flagging and removal from the track, if repeated. This applies to any type of errant behaviour reported by marshals to Race Control, which is now supported by on-track CCTV.
Like many Porsche Club trackdays, the Oulton Park day ran using an open pit lane format which allows participants to go out on track as and when they wish to. For us on this October day it was cool but dry with sunny skies, so the only real limits were your own concentration of effort, lap after lap. Not as easy as it sounds!
David Hemmings, 928 Register Secretary